‘The object as in itself it really is not’
Counterfactual Romanticism and the aesthetics of contingency
in Counterfactual Romanticism
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Revealing the Romantic credentials of the counterfactual sensibility, this chapter calls on us to embrace an ‘aesthetics of contingency’ through which we may recognise the conditioning counterfactuality of our lived lives. Extending the insights of William Galperin’s work on Jane Austen and Andrew Miller’s on the ‘optative mode’, the chapter powerfully recommends an ethically recalibrated view of objects, literary texts and periods – one that is alive to the multiple possibilities and counterfictions that condition our identities and which shadow our relation to a negotiable (literary) past.

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