Freya Johnston (University of Oxford) will be presenting her paper, ‘Medieval Graffiti: Editing Thomas Love Peacock’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 10 February 2015. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.48.
This paper reflects on the challenges and rewards of editing a writer whose works have routinely been described as ‘inaccessible’. Even if his comic fictions abound, like Jane Austen’s, with clever, good-looking women and with sparkling dialogue that culminates in marriage, Peacock’s repartee can be hard to follow. This is partly because he does not aspire to the portrayal of interiority—perhaps the most cherished aspect of Austen’s novels. Rather, his characters, both male and female, exist primarily in order to share, voice, and test the limits of their ideas. His fictions, rebuffing intimacy, are inescapably political and intellectual. This paper will show that to approach the nineteenth-century novel via Peacock is to see it as an outward-facing genre indebted to philosophical tracts, lectures, classical dialogues and the rhythms of parliamentary debate.
About the speaker
Freya Johnston is a fellow and lecturer in English at St Anne’s College, Oxford. She has published two books on Samuel Johnson and is now the general editor of The Cambridge Edition of the Novels of Thomas Love Peacock, whose first volumes will appear later this year. Other work includes a new co-edited text of Jane Austen’s juvenilia, for Oxford World’s Classics, and (in the longer run) a monograph on fiction and opinion from the eighteenth century to the present.