Teaching Jane Austen and the Literature of Love Advice

This essay describes a freshman seminar called “Advice about Love and the Literary Narrator.” After touching on Pride and Prejudice’s opening sentence and some consequences of the belief that one can take advice from a fiction or its narrator, I track a version of the course that moves from Ovid’s Amores to Capellanus’s courtly love treatise, Cervantes’s Don Quixote, and the proposal scenes of the eighteenth-century novel. I conclude by showing how a proposal scene in Emma illuminates earlier models of advising.