Cover image for Jane Austen and the fiction of her time
Title:
Jane Austen and the fiction of her time
Author:
Waldron, Mary.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
ix, 194 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Reading Level:
1430 Lexile.
ISBN:
9780521651301
Format :
Book

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PR4037 .W29 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

This book presents Jane Austen as a radical innovator. It explores the nature of her confrontation with the popular novelists of her time, and demonstrates how her challenge to them transformed fiction. It is evident from letters and other sources, as well as the novels themselves, that the Austen family developed a strong scepticism about contemporary notions of the proper content and purpose of fiction. Austen's own writing can be seen as a conscious demonstration of these disagreements. In thus identifying her literary motivation, this book (moving away from the questions of ideology which have so dominated Austen studies in this century) offers a unifying critique of the novels and helps to explain their unequalled durability with the reading public.


Reviews 1

Choice Review

With the striking exception of Anne Ruderman's Pleasures of Virtue (1995), the most important studies of Jane Austen for nearly three decades--from Alistair Duckworth's Improvement of the Estate (CH, Sep'72) and Marilyn Butler's Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (CH, Mar'76) to the recent work of Gary Kelley--have been historical and contextual, not rooted in close attention to texts. Waldron proves how much remains to be found in Austen's novels. Not merely a close reader, Waldron finds Austen speaking mainly to other novelists (and to conduct-writers) and less about contemporary realities. But one need not accept Waldron's thesis that, as an ironist, Austen seeks not to establish positions but to blur received distinctions. What makes this book so important is Waldron's persuasive attention to strands in the novels both overlooked and antithetical to established readings. Exquisitely sensitive to the faults of Austen's heroes, the author demonstrates why, in Austen's own terms, Fanny Price is more morally flawed than Emma Woodhouse, and how often Emma gets the better of Mr. Knightley. Though Waldron apparently takes pride in looking through the wrong end of the telescope, her evidence is so startlingly persuasive that all students of Austen will need to read her book with care. All academic collections. D. L. Patey; Smith College


Table of Contents

Introduction
1 The juvenilia, the early unfinished novels and Northanger Abbey
2 The non-heiresses: The Watsons and Pride and Prejudice
3 Sense and the single girl
4 The frailties of Fanny
5 Men of sense and silly wives - the confusions of Mr Knightley
6 Rationality and rebellion: Persuasion and the model girl
7 Sanditon
Conclusion
Bibliography
Index