Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Great Article on Enclosure

I just read a great article on Austen and Enclosure here (JASNA Persuasions Online Vol 30 No. 2). Definitely worth a read – it will make you think about Mr Knightley in a whole new way.

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Jane’s Fame – Chapter Six – Jane Austen TM

I finished!

Chapter Six is about the Jane Austen brand.

Austen is both a popular author and a great one. As such she exists in several mutually exclusive spheres – she is all things to all men.

The middle aged, the middle class and those who consider themselves slightly above the middlebrow are Austen’s natural constituency. They (we!) love Austen – the idea as much as the books – because she comes from our own ranks and rocks no boats.

One of the main reasons for Austen’s popularity is the romance plot. In 2004 more than half of all paperbacks sold were romances. Contemporary ‘chick lit’ owes much to Austen – her heroes don’t dominate they can almost seem like ‘sensitive new aged men’. In fact, some critics (mostly men) complain that her heroes are a bit girly and recent screen adaptations have included extra manly scenes; Edward Ferrars chopping wood, Darcy fencing, etc.

Since 1995 there has been many film and television adaptations. Viewers seem happy to see multiple treatments of the same story. Changes in technology has also affected the way we watch the adaptations – we are now ‘super-familiar’ with the material.

There is a section on prequels and sequels and another section on the Internet (blogs, etc).

An appealing attribute of Austen is ‘being for us and for our time’. She is timeless – like all great artists she inhabits a sphere outside time. Harman believes Austen worked to make her novels timeless because it is so hard to update a contemporary novel – think about the delay between the writing of First Impressions and Pride and Prejudice.

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Filed under Biography, Criticism

Jane Austen – Elizabeth Jenkins

I found this book (Jane Austen – A biography by Elizabeth Jenkins) at my local second hand book store. What a fabulous find (and it was only $10.50). It’s been out of print for ages.

Oh and I’m slowly making my way through Chapter Five of Jane’s Fame.

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Filed under Biography, Everything Austen Challenge

Everything Austen Challenge – Jane’s Fame

My first selection in the Everything Austen Challenge was Jane’s Fame – How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman.

I found my copy (under a pile of to-be-dealt-with magazines and books) and I have planned my reading for the month. The book has seven chapters – I plan to read two chapters a week.

In a completely unrelated aside I just finished watching the latest version of Little Dorrit. It was fabulous – if you like a period drama, then you’ll definitely want to see this (and let’s face it you’re reading a blog about Jane Austen so you must like period dramas). You can buy it from the BBC Store and it is in regions 2 and 4 (that means you can watch it in Australia).

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Filed under Biography, Everything Austen Challenge, Television

Everything Austen Challenge

Stephanie’s written word is offering an ‘Every Austen Challenge’. In this challenge you have to read or watch six Austen related items in six months (July to December 2009).

Now my six Austen things are…

Jane’s Fame by Claire Harman

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster

The Absenteeby Maria Edgeworth – Possible influence on Austen (does that count?)

Lesley Castle by Jane Austen

Mansfield Park BBC (1983)


Filed under Everything Austen Challenge

Northanger Abbey – Final Thoughts

Why is Northanger Abbey my least favourite Austen novel? I have been thinking about this for a few days.

Henry Tilney is charming and witty and the authorial voice is, at times, wickedly funny, …

Mrs Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at their being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them.

Austen’s treatment of Catherine Morland is sympathetic – we as readers like her and want to follow her on her adventure to find a hero.

So, why despite all of its good points do I not like it as much as the other novels (even Mansfield Park).

I blame Catherine Morland she is no Elizabeth Bennet or Anne Elliot. She is young, inexperienced and a bit silly. This novel is as much a protest against the lack of female education as it is a love story.

Also, unlike other Austen novels (apart from Persuasion) there is no charming rake – no Henry Crawford, or Mr Willoughby – I like the rogues.

However, Henry Tilney and Isabella Thorpe are brilliant – is Isabella and early version of Lucy Steele?

From a social history point of view, I enjoyed the descriptions of day to day life in Bath – going to the pump room and the upper and lower rooms and the theatre.

I’m glad I read this again slowly and I hope there will be a group read of Udolpho (it’s the only way I think I’ll manage to read it).

Next Austen related book in my pile is The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet (by Colleen McCullough).

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Filed under Northanger Abbey