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


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR4037 .W29 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



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. Mary Waldron shows how Austen's novels exemplify the strong skepticism about contemporary notions of the proper content and purpose of fiction that is evident from family letters and other sources. In thus identifying her literary motivation, this book offers a fresh and unifying critique of the novels.

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

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