Eavesdropping in the Novel from Austen to Proust investigates human curiosity and its representation in eavesdropping scenes in nineteenth-century English and French novels. Ann Gaylin argues that eavesdropping dramatizes a primal human urge to know and offers a paradigm of narrative transmission and reception of information among characters, narrators and readers. Gaylin sheds light on the social and psychological effects of the nineteenth-century rise of information technology and accelerated flow of information, as manifested in the anxieties about - and delight in - displays of private life and its secrets. Analysing eavesdropping in Austen, Balzac, Collins, Dickens and Proust, Gaylin demonstrates the flexibility of the scene to produce narrative complication or resolution; to foreground questions of gender and narrative agency; to place the debates of privacy and publicity within the literal and metaphoric spaces of the nineteenth-century novel. This study will be of interest to scholars of nineteenth-century English and European literature.

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