By Claudia L. Johnson, Clara Tuite
Reflecting the dynamic and expansive nature of Austen stories, A spouse to Jane Austen offers forty two essays from a distinctive group of literary students that research the entire breadth of the English novelist's works and profession.
- Provides the main complete and up to date array of Austen scholarship
- Functions either as a scholarly reference and as a survey of the main leading edge speculative advancements within the box of Austen stories
- Engages at size with altering contexts and cultures of reception from the 19th to the twenty-first centuries
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Additional resources for A Companion to Jane Austen
The earliest extant letters, from January 1796, when she was just 20, contain traces of the same arch motivation and expression, the same performative exuberance as the teenage fiction ( Jones 2004: xxxi). Their revelations of her courtship by Tom Lefroy, for example, are tuned to the liberationist ethic that supports the 20 Kathryn Sutherland rampant egotism of her juvenile adventurers; details are sketched using the same repertoire of absurd phrase and distorting perspective: “Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together”; “Mr.
Austen has a keen sense of the identity of the text of a letter with its material form: how words alone do not convey her meaning, but are supported or betrayed by their disposition on paper, by her handwriting, even by the paper itself. ” (Letters: 17; and see 76, 151); “I cannot write any closer” (Letters: 79); “You are very amiable & very clever to write such long Letters; every page of yours has more lines than this, & every line more words than the average of mine. I am quite ashamed – but you have certainly more little events than we have” (Letters: 131); “I will leave off, or I shall not have room to add a word tomorrow” (Letters: 18).
It is difficult to disregard the interpretative stranglehold of a family who have so effectively determined the content, even the tone and emphasis, of the biographical tradition. The Austens were clever down the generations without being intellectual or anything more than broadly sympathetic to the mainstream in the arts; professional, comfortable, culturally conservative – and stalwartly middle-England. Their official stance, unlike our interpretations of the novels, has shifted little since the early twentieth century.