PERSUASIONS ON-LINE V.32, NO.2 (Summer 2012)

Jane Austen’s Conversational Pragmatics: Rational Evaluation and Strategic Action in Sense and Sensibility

Bill Hughes


Bill Hughes (email: was recently awarded his doctorate from the University of Sheffield, UK.  His research centers on the interrelation of the formal, printed dialogue and conversation in the eighteenth-century novel, and he has publications forthcoming on Mandeville, Edgeworth, and Burney.  He also publishes on Richard Hoggart and contemporary vampire literature.


much has been written on the importance of conversation in eighteenth-century life, in the novels of that period, and in Austen’s work.  I want to examine how Sense and Sensibility in particular lays bare the different modalities of conversation.  I will do this via Jürgen Habermas’s universal, or formal, pragmatics, which presupposes an underlying commitment to communicative reason in all exchanges, but which can become distorted by systemic forces or by individual self-seeking (which is not always independent of the former).


Another starting point I want to raise comes from the dialogue—the dialogue, that is, as a printed literary genre.  Such dialogues were hugely popular in this period, I would argue, due to the general ferment of free thought that characterized eighteenth-century English society, which Habermas identifies in his earlier work on the public sphere.  But the genre also has an important relationship with what is acknowledged as the dominant genre of the time—the novel.


Gary Kelly has pointed out that dialogues frequently feature in the Jacobin novels of the 1790s (121-22, 163-65), but I have observed this structure throughout the early English novel, and I believe it to be an important constituent genre.  Bakhtin (320-21) and John Paul Hunter (51-54) among others have seen the novel as an assemblage of diverse component genres—the diary, the spiritual autobiography, and so on; the dialogue is such an element and has previously been neglected.  Jane Austen may have perfected this technique of embedded dialogue, though I want to avoid that kind of crude teleology that sees Austen as the pinnacle of the prior century’s experimentation.  Austen’s dialogues do have a great deal in common with the wider variety of dialogues on moral behavior and aesthetics that prevailed.  Ian Campbell Ross highlights this continuity in an illuminating comparison of Austen with the fiercely radical “Jacobin novelist,” Robert Bage:  “in her reclamation of the novel as a means of engaging in political debate with wit and humor, she has more in common with the elusive Bage than she, or modern readers, might suspect.”


I argue that Jane Austen inherits this technique of incorporation—and Sense and Sensibility’s very title suggests a dialogue—but complicates the technique by showing deviations from and modulations of the dialogue form.  Hitherto, novels that had embedded the formal dialogue within their narratives had generally done so very schematically.  Austen’s greater subtlety here belies the apparent dichotomy of Sense and Sensibility; compare a similarly titled novel, Elizabeth Inchbald’s Nature and Art (1796).


Austen also shares with Bage and other Jacobin novelists a vision of discursive mutuality in marriage; as Bharat Tandon says, she ends Emma (1816) “with a marriage that is a perpetual conversation” (161).  And the famous discussion of novels in Northanger Abbey (1811) is revealing here; Terry Castle has pointed out Henry Tilney’s Socratic manner:  “Henry does not so much tell Catherine what to think as show her that she can think” (xxii).  Tilney woos and educates Catherine through dialogic exchanges on poetics and ethics; the formal structures of dialogue once more enrich the novel and enable the realization of intellectual and romantic mutuality.


I am using “dialogue” here in distinction to “conversation” to mean the formal genre itself as modeled on Plato’s Socratic dialogues, or to representations of talk that are very closely homologous to that form of rational argumentation—though, importantly, eighteenth-century ideals of conversation aimed at a polite rationality, even to the extent of urging written dialogues as a model.  Conversely, the eighteenth-century dialogue often aspired to a realistic, perhaps novelistic, representation of conversation.


Tandon and others have stressed not only the importance of conversation for Jane Austen, but have also recognized its evaluative nature.  It is through conversation that Austen’s characters assess the moral worth of others.  I want to use Habermas’s theory of communicative action to elucidate precisely how Austen sets up such evaluative tableaux.  I suggest that Habermas is appropriate since he upholds Enlightenment values of rationality that I think Austen shared (while I recognize, too, the often conservative nature of her thought).  Habermas’s elaboration of the public sphere is more well-known in literary applications, but the development of modern rationality and an arena (that same public sphere) for what Habermas’s later work identifies as communicative reason, establishes the historical context that makes both felicitous and relevant the application of his pragmatics to Austen.


I take two principal notions from Habermas:  a) the opposition between “strategic action” and “communicative action”; and b) the idea that there are three kinds of “validity claims” raised in communicative exchanges.  For Habermas, strategic action is opposed to communicative action, whereby actors are concerned with the fulfillment of their own goals rather than with the coordination of actions through common understanding.  Within strategic action, Habermas identifies “latently strategic action” in contrast to “open strategic action” and, again within strategic action, distinguishes between “manipulative action” and “systematically distorted action”:  “Whereas in systematically distorted action at least one of the participants deceives himself about the fact that the basis of consensual action is only apparently being maintained, the manipulator deceives at least one of the other participants about her own strategic attitude, in which she deliberately behaves in a pseudoconsensual manner” (“What is Universal Pragmatics?” 93 n. 2).1


In addition, Habermas argues that modern rationality has become divided into three worlds of discourse, and that three kinds of speech act relate to these:  the constative, concerning facts about the external world; the regulative, concerning moral behavior or social relations; and the expressive, concerning the subjective world of the individual.  Claims made in these types of speech can be validated according to whether they are, in the first case, true; secondly, possess rightness or appropriateness; and finally, are truthful or sincere.  Every utterance raises these three corresponding validity claims, though one is always dominant.  Habermas shows that discourses around these validity claims arise in post-traditional societies, which is what late eighteenth-century England had become (Theory 335).


Through these two ideas from Habermas we can better discern the complexity of Jane Austen’s conversations and even help explain the attraction they command from the reader.  A commitment to communicative reason marks this period; in embedding these scenes of the adjudication of validity claims through set dialogues, Austen shares that commitment.  But she is also intent on showing the forces that corrupt or hinder that transparency.  I will now show the complexity of Austen’s conversations in action:  first, some examples of the way she dramatizes each of the three kinds of judgments; then, I will show how the ideal notion of communicative rationality becomes distorted in different ways and how Austen suggests various social forces that fuel this distortion.


Constative judgments


Elinor Dashwood is in a tradition of skeptical female philosophers that includes Maria Edgeworth’s Belinda and Maria (from her Letters for Literary Ladies [1795]), and heroines from Charlotte Smith, Elizabeth Hamilton, and Austen’s own juvenilia.  Early in the novel, certain facts about Willoughby have come into question—that is, they have become subject to one of Habermas’s validity claims.  Elinor’s uncritical mother, unshaken, responds:  “‘I have explained it to myself in the most satisfactory way;—but you, Elinor, who love to doubt where you can——It will not satisfy you’” (78).  Elinor is a critical doubter whose rational interrogation of circumstances contrasts with the intuitivity of Marianne and their mother.  What Austen gives us here is an exchange between Elinor and her mother that has the structure of a formal dialogue, whereby an attempt is made to uncover the mystery of Willoughby’s sudden disappearance and the reality of his supposed engagement to Marianne (77-82).  Here, in this discussion of Willoughby’s behavior by Elinor and Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor raises constative questions, based on acute empirical observations.


But though the primary sphere under examination is the world of facts, Willoughby’s moral nature is also implicitly being interrogated:


“Something more than what he owned to us must have happened.  He did not speak, he did not behave like himself.  You must have seen the difference as well as I.  What can it be?  Can they have quarrelled?  Why else should he have shewn such unwillingness to accept your invitation here?”  (77-78)


Mrs. Dashwood, however, resists this attempt by Elinor to move the speech onto the level of discourse, where such questions can be examined critically:  “‘you shall not talk me out of my trust in it’” (78).  She is “persuaded” (a key term, as Persuasion itself demonstrates) by her own, completely unsupported, narrative, where “‘This is,’” she says, “‘what I believe to have happened’” (78).  And she preempts Elinor’s rational critique with:  “‘You will tell me, I know, that this may, or may not have happened; but I will listen to no cavil’”—unless Elinor can provide an equally unfounded, but persuasive, counter-narrative (78).


What is remarkable is how clearly Austen’s vocabulary alerts us to the process of rational doubting here and throughout the novel:  words such as doubt, trust, persuaded, credit, believe, probabilities, certainties, suspicion, proof, opinion pepper the text.


Moral judgments


Elinor and Marianne frequently engage in practical discourse, where “controversial claims to rightness” are “made thematic and examined discursively,” where “participants can test both the rightness of a given action in relation to a given norm, and, at the next level, the rightness of such a norm itself” (Habermas, Theory 334).


When Edward first visits the Dashwoods at Barton (90-95), a conversation takes place that is very close to formal dialogue; the structure of argumentation clearly reveals itself.  Edward, Elinor, Marianne, and her mother (with some daft interjections by Margaret) raise questions of morality; of commerce, luxury, and utility; and, finally, of judgment itself.  Significantly, for a dialogue that interrogates conviction and how one is persuaded, the conversation opens with Mrs. Dashwood asking Edward, “‘are you still to be a great orator in spite of yourself?’” (90); soon after, he declares that he “‘cannot be forced into genius and eloquence’” (91).  This exchange initiates a whole chain of questions over values such as wealth, happiness, and sufficiency; then, the recurrent motif of first love, where Marianne declares, “‘At my time of life opinions are tolerably fixed’” (93).  Thus Austen places in explicit contrast Marianne’s fixity of opinion with a commitment to discourse where opinions are open to revision.


Finally, the whole process of making judgments comes under scrutiny.  On the “‘misapprehension of character’”—such evaluation, is of course, crucial in Sense and Sensibility—Elinor says, “‘Sometimes one is guided by what they say of themselves, and very frequently by what other people say of them, without giving oneself time to deliberate and judge’” (93).  Marianne rejoins, somewhat sarcastically, “‘But I thought it was right . . . to be guided wholly by the opinion of other people.  I thought our judgments were given us merely to be subservient to those of our neighbours’” (93-94).  Elinor replies:  “‘My doctrine has never aimed at the subjection of the understanding.  All I have ever attempted to influence has been the behaviour. . . . I am guilty . . . of having often wished you to treat our acquaintance in general with greater attention; but when have I advised you to adopt their sentiments or conform to their judgment in serious matters?’” (94).  This declaration of inner moral authenticity with outward conformity to manners is a crucial theme, and it will explain Elinor’s strategic practices discussed later.  For, as opposed to Marianne’s founding of reason in an authentic inner self, Elinor conceives of reason as public and social.


Aesthetic discourse


Habermas’s third world of subjective expression is examined through “aesthetic critique” (Theory 334).  Sense and Sensibility revels in dialogues on taste, on landscape, poetry, and the visual arts.  There is the well-known dialogue on aesthetics, utility and landscape, with its talk of “dead leaves”—evoking sensibility for Marianne—and hilly prospects, which for her possess grandeur but only suggest dirty lanes to the more utilitarian Edward (87-89).


Edward is also the occasion for a dialogue on taste between Elinor and Marianne (19-22); note that Edward may have no aptitude for the arts; he may, for Marianne, lack sensibility; but he is not dogmatic—unlike Marianne, where “rapturous delight, . . . in her opinion, could alone be called taste” (19):


What a pity it is, Elinor,” said Marianne, “that Edward should have no taste for drawing.”


“No taste for drawing,” replied Elinor; “why should you think so?  He does not draw himself, indeed, but he has great pleasure in seeing the performances of other people, and I assure you he is by no means deficient in natural taste. . . . He distrusts his own judgment in such matters so much, that he is always unwilling to give his opinion on any picture; but he has an innate propriety and simplicity of taste, which in general direct him perfectly right.”  (19)


But even Marianne has enough judgment to recognize Edward’s integrity in the other two worlds of the triad—she has “‘the highest opinion . .  of his goodness and sense’” (20).  This discussion of taste is also the assessment of a potential marriage partner, and it segues from Elinor’s claims, with rising enthusiasm that betrays something beneath her usual decorum, that “‘his mind is well-informed, his enjoyment of books exceedingly great, his imagination lively, his observation just and correct, and his taste delicate and pure,’” to appraising his physical person and “‘the expression of his eyes, which are uncommonly good, and the general sweetness of his countenance’” (20).


This conjunction of aesthetic dialogue with the appreciation of Edward reminds us of the economic and amatory urgencies that are so much part of Austen’s world.  It leads to an examination of Elinor’s own rightness, and several constative issues at the same time—mainly, whether Elinor is engaged or not.  Marianne is forced to recognize here at least that imagination will not serve to uncover facts.  The dialogue displays the processes of both concealment and misunderstanding, and of establishing the grounds of proof.


When Marianne is in dialogue with men, “the brightness of her eyes,” Austen hints, outweighs “the force of her arguments” (47).  She is, in fact, quite dangerous; even men of sense like Colonel Brandon relax their judgment and become charmed by her impulsive irrationality.  Thus, when Elinor predicts that Marianne’s methods of validation will, in a “‘few years,’” be based on “‘common sense and observation,’” he says regretfully that, “‘there is something so amiable in the prejudices of a young mind, that one is sorry to see them give way to the reception of more general opinions’” (56).  Implicitly, her persuasive powers are not dissimilar to the more conscious strategic feminine wiles that, for Mr. Dashwood in a later distorted dialogue with Marianne, enhance the exchange value of a woman.


Marianne similarly grounds her own assessment of Willoughby in immediate intuition, unexamined by intellect and not available to public justification.  Elinor warns Marianne that she hardly knows Willoughby.  Marianne’s conception of knowledge is radically different; in her sense, she knows him intimately:  “‘I have not known him long indeed, but I am much better acquainted with him, than I am with any other creature in the world, except yourself and mama’” (58-59).  She is, of course, to have her epistemology refuted by near tragedy.


Similarly, in what amounts to a dialogue in the moral sphere, she defends the rightness of her actions to Elinor by appealing to a Shaftesburean moral sense:  pleasantness, argues Elinor (and this is a formal argument) does not guarantee an act’s rightness; “‘On the contrary,’” rejoins Marianne, “‘nothing can be a stronger proof of it . . . ; for if there had been any real impropriety . . . , I should have been sensible of it at the time’” (68).  Elinor, typically, appeals to public standards; Marianne has aroused “‘some very impertinent remarks’” among their community.  But Marianne retorts, “‘I am not sensible of having done any thing wrong’” (68).  So that key word, “sensible,” alerts us to contemporary moral thought and philosophies of judgment.


Aesthetics and the marketplace


But Austen also uses aesthetic discourse to illustrate how, in Habermasian terms, system colonizes the lifeworld; how the moral sphere, closely related to the aesthetic, becomes corrupted by commodification.  I would note here that, as often in courtship novels, this commodification is seen in contrast to a utopian potential for rational amatory mutuality, explicitly dialogued in Jacobin novels (and satirized, for example, by Elizabeth Hamilton in Memoirs of Modern Philosophers [1800]).


Elinor’s rational evaluation of both character and factual evidence is at work in the dialogue between her and Mr. Dashwood (167-72), where his false values, concerning the commodity exchange of women, are exposed (and acknowledged in Elinor’s straight-faced responses, which are, in fact, sharply satirical in their insincere acquiescence).  Convinced that Colonel Brandon is attracted to her, Dashwood both probes and attempts manipulation, and a distorted aesthetic emerges which considers Marianne’s supposedly ruined beauty in terms of the market:  “‘She was as handsome a girl last September, as any I ever saw; and as likely to attract the men. . . . I question whether Marianne now, will marry a man worth more than five or six hundred a-year, at the utmost’” (227).  When Robert magically becomes the older son, Mr. Dashwood espouses exchange value to the extent that Robert and Edward can become exchangeable tokens, all real qualities abstracted from them (296-97); similarly, here, the two sisters’ market value shifts magically from one commodity to the other.2


John Dashwood urges, too, a distorted use of a communicative skill that is attributed particularly to women—that of flattery (“‘little attentions and encouragements’” [223]).  The case of flattery as manipulative speech is a dominant theme in eighteenth-century fiction.  This kind of deception, however, is one that Elinor will not perform, despite its assumed necessity for the reproduction of society.  Austen’s critical side appears here.  The passage shows Austen’s virtuosity in linking these recurring themes, but also the interrelatedness of all three kinds of discourse.


Polemical strategy


Jenny Davidson says that Elinor is aware that “she may have more in common with the odious Lucy Steele” than with Marianne, and that “Sense and Sensibility repeatedly emphasizes Elinor’s accomplishments as a social hypocrite” (151).  I want to show how Austen depicts even the virtuous heroine as constrained to employ strategic speech, not merely to preserve social stability but to defend her selfhood from the harshness of the agora—a public forum that is also a market place in female flesh.


Elinor examines Lucy’s veracity over her shocking claim to be engaged to Edward—but not with the openness of discourse; there are strategies of concealment here (96-102).  Lucy simultaneously is probing Elinor for factual and expressive evidence concerning her relationship with Edward.  Austen’s narration of this encounter frequently invokes the concepts of doubt and falsehood, proof and conviction, which have featured prominently throughout the novel.  And in the aftermath, Elinor’s reflections on the conversation are steeped in an almost juridical lexicon of verification:  “doubt,” “probabilities and proofs,” “a body of evidence” (139).


And again, the “necessity of concealing” emerges—a part of which is that “communication” would give “such affliction” to her family and, in turn, from “their conversation she knew she could receive no assistance” (141).  But behind this mask, Elinor is still compelled to risk further painful discussion with Lucy to weigh evidence and assess her sincerity:  “She wanted to hear many particulars of their engagement repeated again, she wanted more clearly to understand what Lucy really felt for Edward, whether there were any sincerity in her declaration of tender regard for him” (141-42).  She also wants to deploy the manipulative powers of language over Lucy and “convince [her], by her readiness to enter on the matter again, and her calmness in conversing on it, that she was no otherwise interested in it than as a friend” (142).  This is, of course, the reader knows, blatant deception.


Under the cover of that most irenic and genteelly feminine of occupations, filigree, Austen then gives us a delightful play of bitter rivalry and decorously concealed enmity.  Here, Elinor’s concealment of her authentic self is not, as elsewhere, to maintain social harmony; she is as self-seeking and strategic as Lucy.  The conversation between Lucy and Elinor is concealed polemic, as Austen clearly indicates of a later bout:  “returning, after a cessation of hostile hints, to the charge” (218).


Here, there is a shade of manipulative language that I think Habermas does not distinguish:  the perlocutionary effect where two speakers perfectly understand one another but what is actually said conceals their intentions.3  Marianne’s sincerity precludes her from learning such strategies, as does her sensibility, which has already been shown to favor intuition over Elinor’s practice of rational verification.  The pragmatic context here must, of course, be understood culturally and historically, and Tony Tanner’s suggestion of an uneasy dialectic between social order and personal expressivity in early nineteenth-century English society is a fruitful beginning.


What Elinor and Lucy are practicing is a variety of mutually “concealed strategic action” (Habermas, Theory 332).  Both parties are disregarding the dialogic requirement of truthfulness for their own strategic gains; there is no question here of coming to mutual understanding through consensus and rational questioning of facts or values.  It may be called “regulated hatred,” in D. W. Harding’s famous phrase, a concept that Austen was certainly familiar with, whether or not it was her own ruling passion.  The regulation here emanates from the dominant social codes of politeness, whose rightness Marianne has submitted to her own form of testing.  In fact, the truth, the rightness, and the sincerity of Elinor and Lucy’s speech acts can all be placed under question.


Jane Austen’s heavily ironic description of the “fair rivals” working together “with the utmost harmony” depicts a chordal arrangement, a false polyphony, of society that conceals bitter discord.  Marianne meanwhile blithely performs her solipsistic melody on the pianoforte as a contrapuntal line of individualism unconcerned with the necessities of society elsewhere (145).  Her music accidentally adds to the concealment that both Lucy and Elinor desire over and above the concealment they practice between them, as “Marianne was then giving them the powerful protection of a very magnificent concerto” (149) (significantly, a form where the soloist is engaged in a dialectical argument with the orchestra).


At one point in this sharply observed and very funny confrontation, Lucy asks Elinor, with deep insincerity, to give her advice on whether to continue the engagement:


“No;” answered Elinor, with a smile, which concealed very agitated feelings, “on such a subject I certainly will not.  You know very well that my opinion would have no weight with you, unless they were on the side of your wishes.”


“Indeed you wrong me,” replied Lucy with great solemnity; “I know nobody of whose judgment I think so highly as I do of yours; and I do really believe, that if you was to say to me, ‘I advise you by all means to put an end to your engagement with Edward Ferrars, it will be more for the happiness of both of you,’ I should resolve upon doing it immediately.”  (150)


In its pretence of disinterested discourse, this discourse on the rightness of practical action is totally inauthentic, larded with such key words such as “opinion” (150), “conviction” (147), “sincerity” (146), “trial” (147), and “judgment” (150).


In this trio, Jane Austen stages a significant tableau with actors each with a habitual pragmatic style:  Marianne almost totally asocial, unable to be strategic, unable even to conform to the conventions that replicate society (though one thing Austen does by bringing these modes together is to problematize both those conventions and her society itself); Lucy consciously manipulative; Elinor performing a complex maneuver whereby she is strategic but usually in the cause of social order (here, though, it is equally in furtherance of her own interests).  As Davidson says, Elinor “adopts a plan of general civility in order to advance her own interests, but the plan is continuous with her own personal practices of concealment, designed to protect herself, her mother and her sister from the painful consequences of passionate feeling” (154).  But in addition, she is fulfilling a wider social role, one that Austen thought essential while recognizing, as Tony Tanner argues, that it comes at enormous cost (75-102).




Early in the novel, Marianne’s deluded expectations lead her to mistake the arrival of Edward for Willoughby (86).  In the finale, this constative error is echoed by Elinor when Edward arrives and she mistakes him for Colonel Brandon (358).  The subsequent discourse, with its misapprehensions of facts, then dramatic clarification, enables the emotional intensity of mutual understanding breaking through all the linguistic fogs of distortion, strategic concealment, and error (359-60).  Edward is left in possession of an authentic happiness validated by “the reality of reason and truth” that supplements, rather than opposes, that confirmed by the “rapturous profession of the lover” (361) associated with the discourse of sensibility.  For like other, usually more politically radical, novelists of this time, Austen values the possibility of a rational and mutual amatory resolution.  These revelations release in Edward a rational volubility of expression (“openly spoken” [362]) with “unrestrained conversation” (363) between them both—though Austen, with detached but compassionate amusement, notes that this conversation is not entirely rational:  “a very few hours spent in the hard labour of incessant talking will dispatch more subjects than can really be in common between any two rational creatures, yet with lovers it is different.  Between them no subject is finished, no communication even made, till it has been made at least twenty times over” (363-64).  There is a moment, then, in Austen which transcends her commitment to communicative reason:  an endless playfulness with “no communication” that replenishes the “hard labour” that seeks to bring together “rational creatures.”


The dialogue between Sense and Sensibility results in aporias like one of Plato’s early Socratic dialogues.  The opposition between the two cannot be transcended within Jane Austen’s society.  She, I think reluctantly, chooses Sense.  The many failures and strategic avoidances of communicative reason throughout the novel reveal, despite Austen’s commitment to dialogism, this impossibility.


Finally, Bharat Tandon reminds us just how funny Austen is.  This dimension does not appear in Habermas’s coolly rational schema.  (In fact, the aesthetic is problematic as a whole in his theory, and a number of writers have addressed this.)  Yet, it is out of the distortion of some of Habermas’s preconditions of rational discourse that we, as ideally critical readers, are amused and entertained, and his pragmatics makes these mechanisms clear.  The comic resolution of the transparency envisaged in a rational companionship, and that delirious moment of irrational suspension of dialogue, take their force from this background.





1. See also Habermas’s “On Systematically Distorted Communication.”


2. For Marx, the commodity is stripped of all particularity when considered under the aspect of exchange value:  “All its sensuous characteristics are extinguished” (128).


3. “Perlocutionary,” in J. L. Austin’s analysis of speech acts, refers to that aspect of an utterance that “produce[s] certain consequential effects upon the feelings, thoughts, or actions of the audience, or of the speaker, or of other persons” (101).



Works Cited


Austen, Jane.  Sense and Sensibility.  Ed. R. W. Chapman.  3rd ed.  London: Oxford UP, 1933.

Austin, J. L.  How to Do Things with Words. The William James Lectures Delivered in Harvard University in 1955.  Ed. J. O. Urmson.  Oxford: Clarendon, 1962.

Bakhtin, Mikhail.  “Discourse in the Novel.”  The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays.  Ed. Michael Holquist.  Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist.  University of Texas Press Slavic Series 1.  Austin: U of Texas P, 1981.  259-422.

Castle, Terry.  Introduction.  “Northanger Abbey” and Other Works.  Ed. John Davies.  Oxford: OUP, 1998.  vii-xxxii.

Davidson, Jenny.  Hypocrisy and the Politics of Politeness: Manners and Morals from Locke to Austen.  Cambridge: CUP, 2004.

Habermas, Jürgen.  “On Systematically Distorted Communication.”  Inquiry 13 (1970): 205-18.

_____.  “Reflections on Communicative Pathology.”  On the Pragmatics of Social Interaction: Preliminary Studies in the Theory of Communicative Action.  Trans. and intr. Barbara Fultner.  Cambridge: Polity, 2001.

_____.  The Theory of Communicative Action: Volume 1: Reason and the Rationalization of Society.  Trans. Thomas McCarthy.  London: Heinemann, 1981.

_____.  “What is Universal Pragmatics?”  On the Pragmatics of Communication.  Ed. Maeve Cooke.  Cambridge: Polity, 1999.  21-103.

Hunter, John Paul.  Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-Century English Fiction.  New York: Norton, 1990.

Kelly, Gary.  The English Jacobin Novel 1780-1805.  Oxford: Clarendon, 1976.

Marx, Karl.  Capital.  3 vols.  Trans. Ben Fowkes.  Intr. Ernest Mandel.  Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976-81.  Vol. 1.  1976.

Nolan-Grant, Candice.  “Jane Austen’s Speech Acts and Language-Based Societies.”  SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 49 (2009): 863-78.

Ross, Ian Campbell.  “Lunacies.”  Rev. of Robert Bage, Hermsprong; or Man as He Is Not, ed. Pamela Perkins.  London Review of Books 25.20 (23 Oct. 2003): 28-29.

Tandon, Bharat.  Jane Austen and the Morality of Conversation.  Anthem Nineteenth Century Studies.  London: Anthem, 2003.

Tanner, Tony. Jane Austen.  Rev. ed.  Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.


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