British and Irish Literature Jane Austen
by
Katherine Halsey
  • LAST MODIFIED: 20 September 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846719-0081

Introduction

Jane Austen (b. 1775–d. 1817) was the author of six novels and a number of juvenile and unfinished works. Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Persuasion (1817), and Northanger Abbey (1817) are often considered some of the most perfectly realized novels in the English language, combining superb characterization, sophisticated plotting, elegant style, and a dry and ironic wit. Austen’s novels unite social realism, comic satire, and romance in a formula that has proven both durable and highly successful. Although her works enjoyed only modest success in their own time, Austen now occupies an unusual position among literary figures, as she is both a popular writer, with a large and sometimes fanatical fan base, and a “classic” writer, with a secure position in the literary academy. Her works have been subjected to every kind of critical, historical, and theoretical analysis, but they have also been adapted for television, radio, theatre, and film, and her works have generated hundreds of sequels, prequels, and other spin-offs. Austen’s earliest critics, accustomed to the more melodramatic Gothic novels then in vogue, focused on the unusual degree of verisimilitude in Austen’s novels, commenting on the fact that Austen was able to make everyday incidents and characters interesting. They also praised the “pure morality” that the works embodied and frequently commented that Austen’s novels provided an excellent example to other female writers because they dealt with matters within the sphere of what the author knew (domestic life in the country) and did not deal with matters then considered unsuitable for female knowledge. Over the course of the 19th century, Austen’s reputation developed slowly, and she remained a novelist beloved largely by elite highbrow readers but one without a wide popular readership. In critical and private writing of the mid-19th century, Austen was often characterized as a miniaturist whose art was perfect within a tiny compass (the famous “little piece of ivory two inches wide” as Austen called it herself) but who did not aspire to deal with the larger or more spiritual side of life. Criticism of this period largely attempted to make a case for an undervalued novelist. Austen’s popularity grew exponentially from 1870 onward, after the publication of the Memoir of Jane Austen by her nephew. This work gave rise to a renewed popular and critical interest in Austen’s novels, as well as a spate of critical articles on her works. From the 1870s onward, Austen’s reputation rose steeply, her cause championed by a group of influential literary men (including E. M. Forster, George Saintsbury, and William Dean Howells) who came to be known as “Janeites.” Austen’s position was consolidated by the work of her first scholarly editor R. W. Chapman, who produced the first textually significant edition of Austen’s works. In 1948 F. R. Leavis made Austen’s place in the English literary canon absolutely secure by naming her as one of England’s great novelists.

General Overviews

Jane Austen’s works have attracted significant critical interest, and monographs and collections of essays on every aspect of her life, times, and writing abound. Good general overviews are, however, rarer. Modern criticism of Austen’s novels is generally thought to begin with Bradley 1998 (originally 1911), a lecture, followed by Lascelles 1939 (cited under Style), the first full-length study of Jane Austen’s literary technique, in which Lascelles outlines the bond of friendship created between author and reader through Austen’s style. Bradley began the tradition of Austen criticism by outlining what he saw to be the major themes in her work. Tanner 2007 and Litz 1965 are scholarly and accessible introductions to the novelist and her works. Todd 2006 provides a very good introduction to Austen’s life and times, the literary context within which Jane Austen wrote, and chapters on each of the novels. Todd 2005 contains a large number of short essays that introduce key aspects of Jane Austen studies, while Copeland and McMaster 1997 and Lambdin and Lambdin 2000 comprise a smaller number of essays that cover their topics in greater depth. Watt 1963 is a helpful critical compendium.

  • Bradley, A. C. “Jane Austen: A Lecture.” In Jane Austen: Critical Assessments. Vol. 2, The Social Background; The Intellectual Background; The Twentieth-Century Response. Edited by Ian Littlewood, 199–217. Mountfield, UK: Helm Information, 1998.

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    Identifies two main strains in Austen’s work: humor and morality. Explores for the first time her 18th-century literary influences, Johnson and Cowper, and her debt to stage comedy. Originally published in Essays and Studies by Members of the English Association 2 (1911):7–36.

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  • Copeland, Edward, and Juliet McMaster. The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521495172Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An important and influential collection by experts in their fields, covering a number of important contexts for Austen studies and including chapters on all the major novels, the short fiction, and the letters.

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  • Lambdin, Laura Cooner, and Robert Thomas Lambdin. A Companion to Jane Austen Studies. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.

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    Contains essays by both established scholars and early-career researchers. Presents new and interesting research, rather than aiming for comprehensive coverage of key topics.

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  • Litz, A. Walton. Jane Austen: A Study of Her Artistic Development. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965.

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    Synthesizes and brings into focus much previous scholarship. Lucid and readable. Recommended to undergraduates.

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    • Tanner, Tony. Jane Austen. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

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      Full-length study with chapters on all six novels and Sanditon. Also includes an introduction that covers Austen’s relationship to the novel genre, her society, education, and language. Very useful and readable overview. Originally published in 1986.

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    • Todd, Janet, ed. Jane Austen in Context. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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      Collection of essays by leading Austen scholars. Very wide variety of key topics covered, but briefly. Historicist in emphasis. Valuable to scholars but useful also to introduce undergraduates to particular areas of interest.

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    • Todd, Janet. The Cambridge Introduction to Jane Austen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511607325Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Recommended to undergraduates. Well-written introduction that outlines important areas of critical inquiry and provides accomplished readings of each of the novels. Covers life and times, literary context, and readings of all the novels.

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    • Watt, Ian, ed. Jane Austen: A Collection of Critical Essays.4 vols. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1963.

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      Contains a number of important essays on Austen by writers such as C. S. Lewis, Virginia Woolf, and D. W. Harding. Also critical essays on each novel.

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      Bibliographies and Reference Works

      Critical work on Austen from 1811 to the time of writing is listed in the bibliographies here. Chapman 1955 documents the critical works on Jane Austen to that date. Roth and Weinsheimer 1973 extends Chapman’s work to 1972, while Roth 1985 and Roth 1996 list Austen to 1996. The MLA International Bibliography documents criticism from 1994 to the present day. Gilson 1997 synthesizes much material found elsewhere, including information about early editions and readers’ responses. De Rose and McGuire 1982 is a concordance to Austen’s work and is particularly useful for close linguistic analysis, while Southam 1987 collects extracts from the most important and influential critical works.

      • Chapman, R. W. Jane Austen: A Critical Bibliography. 2d ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 1955.

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        The first attempt to document the critical works on Jane Austen, and mainly of historical interest. Originally published in 1953.

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        • De Rose, Peter, and S. W. McGuire. A Concordance to the Works of Jane Austen. 3 vols. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities. New York: Garland, 1982.

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          Useful critical tool.

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        • Gilson, David. A Bibliography of Jane Austen. 2d ed. Winchester, UK: St. Paul’s Bibliographies, 1997.

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          Essential reference work. Comprehensive, clear, and a model of bibliographic practice. Originally published in 1982.

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        • MLA International Bibliography.

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          Provides a subject index for all books and articles published in the fields of modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics. Compiled by the staff of the MLA Office of Bibliographic Information Services. Annually indexes over 66,000 books and articles, including all published in Austen studies in any given year.

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          • Roth, Barry. An Annotated Bibliography of Jane Austen Studies, 1973–83. Charlottesville: University of Press of Virginia, 1985.

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            Important reference work. The annotations help to guide the scholar toward relevant works.

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          • Roth, Barry. An Annotated Bibliography of Jane Austen Studies, 1984–94. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1996.

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            Important reference work listing the scholarship in Austen studies published between 1984 and 1994.

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          • Roth, Barry, and Joel Weinsheimer. An Annotated Bibliography of Jane Austen Studies, 1952–1972. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1973.

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            Important reference work that contains a list of works on Jane Austen published between 1952 and 1972.

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          • Southam, Brian Charles, ed. Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage. 2 vols. London: Routledge, 1987.

            DOI: 10.4324/9780203196755Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            Collects the most important and/or influential pieces of criticism from 1811 to 1970. Includes an extremely helpful introduction to each volume that charts the ebbs and flows of Austen’s reputation and summarizes the critical debates. Essential reference work, although readers should be aware that it contains some errors and some anomalies in referencing. First volume originally published in 1968.

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          Manuscripts

          No manuscripts of the major novels are still extant. However, manuscripts of some of Jane Austen’s juvenile and unfinished works do exist. Austen made fair copies of her juvenilia, which she collected in three notebooks, titled Volume the First, Volume the Second, and Volume the Third. These have been confidently dated to the period between 1787 and 1793 (see Sabor 2006, cited under Editions of the Manuscript Works). Other manuscript works have proven more difficult to date (see Todd and Bree 2008, cited under Editions of the Manuscript Works). Critics disagree about the date of composition of Lady Susan, although all agree that it was composed sometime between 1795 and 1812, and about the date of the composition of The Watsons, although a majority agree that the latter was likely to have been written around 1804. Sanditon was written during Austen’s last illness in 1817. Two Cancelled Chapters of Persuasion, Austen’s last novel (1817), also exist in manuscript. The Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts project provides both facsimile versions and transcriptions of the known fiction manuscripts, with a small number of exceptions, such as the Sir Charles Grandison playlet, which was written sometime between 1791 and 1800. A number of editions of the manuscript works exist, of which Austen 1993 (cited under Editions of the Manuscript Works) is the most suitable edition of the juvenilia for students and Sabor 2006 for Austen scholars, while Austen 2003 (cited under Editions of the Manuscript Works) provides an accessible introduction to the later works for undergraduates. Todd and Bree 2008 is the definitive edition for Austen scholars.

          • Austen, Jane. Cancelled Chapters of Persuasion. MS. Egerton 3038. British Library, London.

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            The only remaining manuscript relating to any of Austen’s completed works. The chapters provide an alternative ending to Persuasion, written in 1817.

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            • Austen, Jane. Lady Susan. MS. MA. 1226. Morgan Library and Museum, New York.

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              Written sometime between 1795 and 1812. Possibly influenced by Choderlos de Laclos’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782). Very unlike the rest of Austen’s work—deals with a worldly, experienced merry widow.

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              • Austen, Jane. Sanditon. King’s College, Cambridge, UK.

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                Unfinished work of 120 pages and about 24,000 words, adding up to about one-fifth of a finished novel. Written on Austen’s deathbed. A satire on invalids and invalidism. No accession number available.

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                • Austen, Jane. Sir Charles Grandison. MS. C159. Chawton House Library, Hampshire, UK.

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                  Held at Chawton House Library, formerly the home of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen-Knight. Scholars debate whether the playlet is actually by Jane Austen, but it is certainly in her hand. Probably a collaboration between Austen and her young niece, Anna Austen, later Lefroy, written between 1781 and 1800.

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                  • Austen, Jane. The Watsons. MS. MA. 1034. Morgan Library and Museum, New York.

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                    Unfinished work, presumably originally intended to be a novel. Probably begun in 1804 and abandoned in 1805 after the death of Austen’s father. Deals with themes familiar in Austen’s work. Also see Bodleian Library, Oxford (MS. Eng. e. 3764).

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                    • Austen, Jane. Volume the First. MS. Don. e.7. Bodleian Library, Oxford.

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                      First manuscript notebook of Austen’s early juvenilia. A fair copy of works written between 1787 and 1793. Includes the works “The Beautiful Cassandra,” “Jack and Alice,” and others in a variety of styles and genres.

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                      • Austen, Jane. Volume the Second. Add. MS. 59874. British Library, London.

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                        Second manuscript notebook of Austen’s early juvenilia, with the subscription ex dono mei patris (“the gift of my father”). A fair copy of works written between 1787 and 1793. Includes the works “Love and Freindship” [sic], “The History of England,” and others.

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                        • Austen, Jane. Volume the Third. Add. MS. 65381. British Library, London.

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                          Third manuscript notebook of Austen’s early juvenilia, with the title “Effusions of Fancy By a Very Young Lady Consisting of Tales in a Style Entirely New.” A fair copy of works written between 1787 and 1793. Contains the works “Evelyn” and “Kitty, or The Bower.”

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                          Editions of the Manuscript Works

                          There are various collected editions of the manuscript works, beginning with Chapman 1954, but the most scholarly are volumes in the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen dealing with the juvenilia and the later manuscripts (Sabor 2006 and Todd and Bree 2008, respectively). These both contain excellent introductions to the works, summarizing the composition and publication histories of each of the works and synthesizing scholarship about the manuscripts. The Persuasion volume in this series (Todd and Blank 2006) contains the two cancelled chapters of Persuasion and contextualizes them in the introduction. Editions recommended to undergraduates include the less expensive but excellent Austen 1993 and Austen 2003. Brian Southam’s edition of the Sir Charles Grandison playlet (Southam 1981) argues that it is actually by Jane Austen, although this claim is disputed in Todd and Bree 2008. Highly recommended is the Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts Digital Edition website, which contains both facsimiles of the manuscript works and transcriptions of them. It also includes extremely helpful headnotes.

                          • Austen, Jane. Catharine and Other Writings. Edited by Margaret Doody and Douglas Murray. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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                            Affordable edition of the juvenilia, with clear notes and useful introduction that presents a straightforward argument. Good for undergraduate students.

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                          • Austen, Jane. Lady Susan; The Watsons; Sanditon. Edited by Margaret Drabble. London: Penguin, 2003.

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                            Affordable edition of the later manuscript works, with clear and straightforward editorial apparatus, including notes and introduction. Good for undergraduates. Originally published in 1974.

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                          • Chapman, R. W., ed. The Works of Jane Austen. Vol. 6, Minor Works. Oxford: Clarendon, 1954.

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                            The first collected edition of the manuscript works and part of Chapman’s great editorial project to present Jane Austen as an author worthy of serious scholarly attention. The basis of much subsequent editorial work on the manuscripts, although Sutherland 2005 (cited under Miscellaneous) suggests that some of Chapman’s interventions were unhelpful.

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                          • Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts Digital Edition. Edited by Kathryn Sutherland.

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                            This is a valuable and reliable resource, well conceived and executed with scholarly rigor. Includes helpful and knowledgeable headnotes to each text.

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                            • Sabor, Peter, ed. Juvenilia. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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                              The definitive edition of the juvenilia. Invaluable to Austen scholars. It is a model of good editorial practice. The introduction helpfully provides details of provenance and summarizes critical debate surrounding the manuscripts.

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                            • Southam, Brian, ed. Jane Austen’s Sir Charles Grandison. Oxford: Clarendon, 1981.

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                              First publication of the Grandison playlet; argues that it is by Jane Austen herself, not her niece Anna. This claim is disputed by many scholars, including Todd and Bree (see Todd and Bree 2008).

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                            • Todd, Janet, and Antje Blank, eds. Persuasion. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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                              Contains facsimile and transcript of the cancelled chapters of Persuasion, and some discussion of these in the introduction.

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                            • Todd, Janet, and Linda Bree, eds. Later Manuscripts. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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                              A thorough, scrupulous, and scholarly edition of the later manuscripts. The introduction and notes are very valuable to Austen scholars, summarizing critical debates and tracing the provenance of the manuscripts. It does not include the cancelled chapters of Persuasion, which can be found in Todd and Blank 2006. Contains manuscript material by members of Austen’s family in the appendices.

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                            Novels

                            Jane Austen’s works have been reproduced and reprinted almost ad nauseam. Good editions of all the novels have been published in the Oxford Worlds Classics and Penguin Classics series, either of which can be safely recommended to undergraduate students. There are, however, only two major scholarly editions of the works. These are the Clarendon Press edition, published under the editorship of R. W. Chapman (Chapman 1988) and the Cambridge University Press edition (Todd, et al., 2005–2008).

                            • Chapman, R. W., ed. The Novels of Jane Austen: The Text Based on Collation of the Early Editions, with Notes, Indexes and Illustrations from Contemporary Sources. 3d ed. 6 vols. The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

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                              A reprint of Chapman’s original edition, published by Clarendon Press in 1923. For many years the standard and definitive edition, Chapman’s edition is of both textual and historical importance, as the first edition to take seriously the need for a proper scholarly edition of Austen’s works, which reflected her own choices of punctuation, syntax, and layout. Does not include juvenilia and unfinished works, which appeared in a later volume in 1954.

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                            • Todd, Janet, et al., eds. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. 9 vols. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005–2008.

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                              The definitive edition. Each volume is edited by experts in the field, and the introduction and notes to each volume are invaluable, detailing the relevant publication and reception history, and the major critical debates surrounding the novel or works.

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                            Biographies

                            Little factual evidence about Jane Austen’s life remains. All later biographies depend, to a greater or lesser extent, on two biographies by members of Jane Austen’s family. The first is the brief “Biographical Notice of the Author” by her brother, which was appended to the first edition of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in 1817. This was revised and expanded in 1832, and published as “Memoir of Miss Austen” in the Richard Bentley edition of the novels in 1833 (reprinted in Sutherland 2002). The second is the 1870 Memoir of Jane Austen, by her nephew, James-Edward Austen-Leigh, which went into a revised and enlarged second edition in 1871 (reprinted in Sutherland 2002). Further family reminiscences were gathered by two of her great-nephews, Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh and William Austen-Leigh, in 1913, and this material is now most accessible in Le Faye 2004, which remains the most comprehensive factual biography of the novelist based on family records. The family biographers carefully shaped the image of Jane Austen encountered by the public, insisting on her conventionally “feminine” traits—modesty, domesticity, and kindness—and presenting her as an amateur who wrote for “fun,” rather than profit, and as a somewhat unworldly woman. Nineteenth- and early-20th-century biography and criticism followed the lead of the family biographers, but the revision of the “dear Aunt Jane” image has formed the basis of much work in Austen studies since the 1940s, and this is particularly evident in a number of biographies of Austen that appeared in the 1980s and 1990s. Halperin 1984, Honan 1987, Fergus 1991, and Nokes 1997 all attempted to redress the balance of the family biographies by focusing on alternative aspects of Jane Austen’s personality, such as her bawdy humor, involvement in contemporary politics, cutting wit, and serious literary professionalism. Tomalin 1997 provides the most balanced account of Jane Austen’s life, while Stafford 2008 offers an accessible brief introduction, suitable for undergraduate use. Because of the paucity of facts available to the biographer, all biographies of Jane Austen tend toward the speculative (Nokes 1997, in particular), and biographers generally extrapolate facts about her life from the fictional events of the novels. Le Faye 2004 resists this temptation.

                            • Fergus, Jan. Jane Austen: A Literary Life. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1991.

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                              Reacts against the tradition of family biographies to present Jane Austen as first and foremost a serious professional writer. Places her in the context of her female contemporaries; hence not only a biography but also a piece of feminist scholarship.

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                            • Halperin, John. The Life of Jane Austen. Brighton, UK: Harvester, 1984.

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                              Controversial when published, Halperin’s biography sets out to debunk the idealized version of Jane Austen perpetuated by her family and makes much of the less edifying aspects of Jane Austen’s life and personality, such as her heartless jokes in the letters and her sometimes fractious relationships with her relatives. An important revisionist biography.

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                            • Honan, Park. Jane Austen: Her Life. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987.

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                              Presents Jane Austen within her social and political context, and makes the important point that she was far more aware of world events than critics and biographers had hitherto assumed. Reacts against Halperin 1984 on the grounds that its biography is factually inaccurate; actually, the writers differ in their interpretations of facts.

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                            • Le Faye, Deirdre. Jane Austen: A Family Record. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                              Based on Richard Arthur and William Austen-Leigh’s Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters, a Family Record (London: John Murray, 1913) but goes far beyond this work in terms of scope and scholarly rigor. The most comprehensive and useful compendium of facts about Jane Austen’s life and family. Includes an excellent detailed chronology of the known events of her life, a number of genealogical trees, clear notes, and a helpful bibliography. Essential reading. First published in 1989.

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                            • Nokes, David. Jane Austen: A Life. London: Fourth Estate, 1997.

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                              This is the biography that most explicitly condemns the Austen family’s management of Jane Austen’s public image. Presents an alternative Austen as “rebellious, satirical and wild” (p. 7). The work is deliberately designed to be both provocative and accessible.

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                            • Stafford, Fiona. Brief Lives: Jane Austen. London: Hesperus, 2008.

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                              Beautifully written brief biography that weaves together accurate information about the events of Austen’s life with an elegant analysis of the works. An excellent text for undergraduates.

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                            • Sutherland, Kathryn, ed. A Memoir of Jane Austen and Other Family Recollections. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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                              Contains Henry Austen’s “‘Biographical Notice of the Author’ (1818)” (pp. 135–144) and the second edition of James Edward Austen-Leigh’s “A Memoir of Jane Austen (1871)” (pp. 1–134). Henry’s account is a brief, hagiographical account of Austen, focusing on her kindness, piety, and propriety. Gives no sense of her literary professionalism. Valuable as the only biography written by someone who knew Jane Austen well. Austen-Leigh’s Memoir similarly presents a sanitized view of her. The second edition (1871) included some of Austen’s juvenile writings and extracts from her letters. Begins the “dear Aunt Jane” tradition of writing about Austen.

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                            • Tomalin, Claire. Jane Austen: A Life. London: Viking, 1997.

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                              The most balanced and readable of the major biographies of Austen. Tomalin does give rein to her imagination but bases her hypotheses on the available evidence. Very well-written and accessible book, presenting Jane Austen as both loveable and flawed.

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                            Letters

                            The first edition of Jane Austen’s letters appeared in 1884, edited by Austen’s great-nephew, Edward Hugessen Knatchbull-Hugessen (the first Baron Brabourne), although snippets from her letters had appeared in both the “Biographical Notice” and the Memoir before the publication of Brabourne’s 1884 edition (Brabourne 2009). This edition was neither comprehensive, leaving out nearly a third of letters now known to have survived, nor accurately transcribed, but it remained the only attempt to make her letters available to the public until her great editor, R. W. Chapman, produced an edition in the 1930s. Chapman 1932 included valuable notes identifying many allusions to people, events, and books but was not comprehensive. Both Brabourne’s and Chapman’s editions of the letters remain in print but have long since been superseded by Deirdre Le Faye’s edition (Le Faye 2011), which includes all the known letters along with editorial apparatus, including a chronology of the novelist’s life, and extensive notes.

                            • Brabourne, Edward Hugessen Knatchbull-Hugessen, Baron, ed. Letters of Jane Austen. 2 vols. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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                              An edition that toed the Austen family line and included only carefully selected letters, sometimes edited to remove elements of crude and bawdy humor. Of historical interest in showing how Austen’s public persona was carefully managed by her family. A reprint of the original edition published in 1884 (London: Richard Bentley).

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                            • Chapman, R. W., ed. Jane Austen’s Letters to Her Sister Cassandra and Others. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1932.

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                              Not comprehensive, although does include valuable notes and some letters not comprised in Brabourne 2009. Of interest as part of Chapman’s endeavors to establish Jane Austen as an author worthy of serious study.

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                              • Le Faye, Deirdre, ed. Jane Austen’s Letters. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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                                Definitive and comprehensive edition of the letters. Helpful notes identifying correspondents, literary allusions and other contexts. Also includes provenance notes.

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                              Studies

                              This is a wide and increasingly diverse field, which generally follows the patterns and trends in wider literary criticism, such as the turn to New Historicism in the 1970s and 1980s, but has its own particular thematic concerns and questions. Some of the major questions that have exercised (and indeed polarized) Austen scholars over the past two hundred years are: Was Austen primarily a humorist or a moralist? Was she a conservative or a radical; feminist or antifeminist? What is distinctive about her style? Does she support or subvert the ideologies of the bourgeoisie? Was she deeply engaged with the politics and ideas of her time, or did she ignore them? Who were her literary influences? Should she be categorized as an 18th-century or a Romantic-period writer? Did she consider herself a serious professional writer or did she write, as her brother claimed, for “fun”? Was she the “dear Aunt Jane” of her family’s construction or a completely different kind of person? What is the chronology of composition of her novels, and how did Jane Austen develop as an artist? Because of Austen’s somewhat anomalous status as both a high-culture and a popular novelist, some Austen criticism exists in the field of cultural studies and considers the various facets of the “Austen industry,” including adaptations of her works. It is, of course, not always possible to differentiate clearly between the various questions and areas of study as they frequently overlap, but the works listed here delineate the main foci of discussion in the field.

                              Style

                              Style cannot be divorced from content, and all studies of Jane Austen do, to some extent, take account of her style. Critics have long attempted to identify the elusive qualities of her style, often disagreeing, but consensus emerges that key aspects of her style are a precise attention to linguistic register and the connotations of words and use of free indirect discourse, habitual irony, flexible syntax, and verbal economy. Early reviews in the British Critic, Critical Review, and other periodicals considered her style to be both elegant and particularly appropriate for a female writer. Whately 1987 is an (anonymous) influential review article published in 1821. This work first analyzed her style in detail, noting its economy, precision, and delicacy, and suggesting that it was the fine calibrations of her language that lent her work its particular distinction. Whately also commented on the pure Christian morality that he believed to be the bedrock of the novels. Whately described Austen as a serious moral writer, but one whose values were not presented didactically but, rather, implicitly. Lascelles 1939 applies Henry James’s ideas of the “art” of the novel to Jane Austen’s work, arguing that the success of Austen’s style lies in the narrator’s ability to create a bond with the reader. Harding 1998 (originally published in 1940) altered the course of Austen scholarship, arguing that the distinctive qualities of Austen’s work derived from her isolation and alienation from society. Unlike Lascelles but like Oliphant 1870 (cited under Feminism), Harding argued that Austen’s novels were primarily dark satire, rather than genial comedy, and suggested that they mocked the very people who most enjoyed her works. Much critical debate since Harding has revolved around this point, with Mudrick 1952, in particular, focusing on the relationship between style and alienation in Austen’s novels. Poovey 1984 combines this argument with a feminist one. Mudrick 1952 applies Harding’s psychological argument specifically to her style, suggesting that Austen’s irony functions to criticize and subvert the mannered middle-class world she depicts. Building on previous scholarship, Page 1972 focuses on Austen’s syntactical and lexical choices, arguing that Austen’s word choices repay careful attention as the distinctions she makes between seemingly synonymous terms reflect her views on a number of her period’s most contentious issues. Poovey 1984 politicizes the question of style, arguing that Austen’s economical and elliptical style is the result of her negotiations with an ideology that devalued professional endeavor and demanded “ladylike” codes of behavior from professional women writers and a “ladylike” style in their writing. In contrast to Poovey’s Marxist/feminist approach, Miller 2003 locates itself within a deconstructionist school of criticism but also considers style in relation to gender norms, arguing that Austen’s style attempts to position itself outside gender and hence outside her own position as an unmarried woman in an era when spinsterhood incurred a certain social stigma. Tandon 2003 returns to a much older tradition of criticism in elucidating the relationship between Austen’s style and morality, arguing that Austen’s novels embody an attempt to describe and set out a form of conversational morality.

                              • Harding, Derek W. Regulated Hatred and Other Essays on Jane Austen. Edited by Monica Lawlor. London: Athlone, 1998.

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                                First published as the essay “Regulated Hatred: An Aspect of the Work of Jane Austen” (Scrutiny 8 [1940]: 346–362). Very controversial when first published; changed the course of Austen studies by arguing that Austen’s novels mocked the very people who most enjoyed her works.

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                              • Lascelles, Mary. Jane Austen and Her Art. London: Clarendon, 1939.

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                                First full-length study of Austen’s style. Important and influential work. Essential reading.

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                                • Miller, D. A. Jane Austen, or The Secret of Style. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

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                                  Provocative book that deliberately positions itself outside the mainstream (historicist) criticism of its period. Makes use of the frameworks of deconstruction/postmodernism and queer theory to posit an interesting argument about Austen’s style. Demands a specialist knowledge. Not generally recommended for undergraduates, although it contains a number of valuable insights.

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                                • Mudrick, Marvin. Jane Austen: Irony as Defense and Discovery. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1952.

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                                  In its time, a controversial approach to Austen’s writing, presenting Austen as a discomforting and subversive figure. This has now become a broadly accepted thesis. Insightful discussion of the way in which irony works in Austen’s novels. Covers a complex topic.

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                                  • Page, Norman. The Language of Jane Austen. Oxford: Blackwell, 1972.

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                                    Contains chapters on a number of aspects of Austen’s use of language, including style, syntax, dialogue, diction, and epistolary art. Excellent analysis of Austen’s lexical choices. Helpful reading for undergraduates.

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                                  • Poovey, Mary. The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer: Ideology as Style in the Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.

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                                    Marxist/feminist approach that links Austen’s style to the ideological pressures applied to the woman writer of Austen’s period. Helpful comparisons to Wollstonecraft and Shelley. A useful book that makes a valuable contribution to our understanding not only of Austen’s style but also of the ideological conditions in which she wrote. Also a contribution to feminist studies of Austen.

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                                  • Tandon, Bharat. Jane Austen and the Morality of Conversation. London: Anthem, 2003.

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                                    Combines cultural history and literary stylistics to make the argument that Austen’s style has a didactic function in nudging her readers toward more careful and discriminating conversational and moral practices.

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                                  • Whately, Richard (anonymous). “Review of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.” In Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage. Vol. 1, 1811–1870. Rev. ed. Edited by Brian C. Southam, 87–105. London: Routledge, 1987.

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                                    Attempts to analyze how Austen creates a realistic effect. Relates style to morality, contending that unobtrusive Christianity combined with comedy provides “moral lessons” to the reader. Of interest because many of the tropes of later criticism first appear in this review article. Originally published in Quarterly Review 24 (January 1821).

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                                  Literary Influence and Literary Context

                                  All works dealing with literary influence and context depend to some extent on an analysis of the allusions in Austen’s work. Moler 1968 was the first full-length study of allusion within the field of Austen studies. Critics divide over the question of whether Jane Austen’s major themes and concerns were those of 18th-century or Romantic writers, and this debate frequently surfaces in the question of literary influences. Austen’s brother began a tradition of associating Austen with the writers of the Augustan age, and the moralists and novelists of the previous century, such as Samuel Richardson and Samuel Johnson in his Biographical Notice, and many other works, including Bradley 1998 (cited under General Overviews), Grundy 1997, and Harris 1989, followed suit. Knox-Shaw 2004 (cited under Politics and Society), for example, discusses Austen’s relationship to the Enlightenment philosophers. Nonetheless, Henry Austen also commented on his sister’s love of the more contemporary poets Crabbe and Cowper, and internal evidence in the novels suggests that she also knew the Romantic poets well. Tuite 2002 (cited under Politics and Society) argues for a “Romantic Austen,” suggesting that Austen’s major preoccupations were those of her Romantic contemporaries. Galperin 2003 (cited under Politics and Society) agrees, as does Janet Todd in Todd 2006 (cited under General Overviews). An alternative feminist tradition of scholarship, represented here by Waldron 1999, locates Austen among her female predecessors and contemporaries, such as Maria Edgeworth, Frances Burney, and Ann Radcliffe, while new scholarship in the field of book history situates Austen within a broader context still. Mandal 2007, for example, discusses the contemporary publishing market in which Austen published her works, a market in which chapbooks, almanacs, conduct books, and other ephemera abounded. Within this wider literary context, Dow and Halsey 2010 discusses Austen’s reading in detail, and recent scholarship in Byrne 2002 and Gay 2002 reassesses Austen’s relationship to the theater.

                                  • Byrne, Paula. Jane Austen and the Theatre. London: Continuum, 2002.

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                                    Byrne argues that, contrary to previous assumptions (as seen in, for example, Butler 1975, cited under Politics and Society), Jane Austen was not opposed to the theater. Like Gay 2002, Byrne explores Austen’s positive relationship to theatrical performances. Discusses the early performances of plays in the Austen family and details the many professional performances Austen is known to have attended.

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                                  • Dow, Gillian, and Katie Halsey. “Jane Austen’s Reading: The Chawton Years.” Persuasions Online 30.2 (2010).

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                                    Gives a snapshot of Jane Austen’s reading practices during the years 1809–1817, drawing on different types of material evidence. Includes illustrations.

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                                    • Gay, Penny. Jane Austen and the Theatre. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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                                      Explores the theatrical contexts of Austen’s writing. Covers much of the same ground as Byrne 2002 but takes a less biographical approach.

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                                    • Grundy, Isobel. “Jane Austen and Literary Traditions.” In The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Edited by Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster, 189–210. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

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                                      Explores Austen’s use of the literary tradition she inherited. Argues that Austen read eclectically and that her habitual response to what she read was to parody it for her own purposes.

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                                    • Harris, Jocelyn. Jane Austen’s Art of Memory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

                                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511519031Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      Extends the argument implicit in Moler 1968 that Austen’s use of allusion not only energizes her work but helps to structure it. Harris sketches out Austen’s own alternative “great tradition,” including Locke, Richardson, Milton, and Shakespeare. An interesting and provocative analysis.

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                                    • Mandal, Anthony. Jane Austen and the Popular Novel: The Determined Author. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

                                      DOI: 10.1057/9780230287501Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      Situates Austen’s novels within the early-19th-century book market. Discusses the complex engagements of her work with that of her contemporaries. Provides an important and previously ignored context for her novels.

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                                    • Moler, Kenneth L. Jane Austen’s Art of Allusion. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1968.

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                                      First full-length study of Jane Austen’s allusions. Looks at Austen’s debt to Burney, Edgeworth, and other popular novelists of her time. Pioneering study.

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                                      • Waldron, Mary. Jane Austen and the Fiction of Her Time. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511484667Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Argues that Austen’s work constitutes a deliberate and often subversive reworking of themes and tropes in her predecessors’ work, and situates Austen among her (primarily female) literary contemporaries. Presents Austen as a radical innovator.

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                                      Politics and Society

                                      Marxist and feminist readings of Austen’s novels dominated the 1960s and 1970s, and an important critical debate about Austen’s politics, begun in Butler 1975, emerged in the following years. Building on the previous decades’ scholarship, in particular, Duckworth 1971, the 1980s and 1990s saw a turn to New Historicist scholarship, and a renewed feminist and historicist interest in Jane Austen’s place among her literary contemporaries. Duckworth 1971 and Butler 1975 changed the face of Jane Austen studies, bringing the question of Austen’s engagement with the political and social issues of her time to the foreground of critical discourse. Duckworth read the novels as Austen’s interventions in the social and moral controversies of her time, while Butler argued for a reassessment of Austen’s political stance. Before Butler, critics largely concurred that Austen had little or no interest in the wider world of politics and that her novels did not engage with the great philosophical and social questions of her turbulent era. Butler 1975 presented Austen as a conservative anti-Jacobin writer, reacting against the literature and events of the French Revolution, and as one who was profoundly concerned with political and philosophical issues. Butler’s reactionary Austen opposed social change of all kinds, including increased freedom for women. While many critics have disagreed with Butler’s reading of Austen as a conservative, seeing her instead as liberal, progressive, and subversive, few would now disagree that Austen’s engagement with the wider world is a vital aspect of her novels, and almost all subsequent work engages either explicitly or implicitly with this question. Johnson 1988 refutes Butler’s argument for Austen’s conservatism, presenting her instead as a mild progressive, whose irony serves the purpose of parodying conservative morality. Tuite 2002 goes further, arguing for the profoundly subversive nature of Austen’s work. In the wake of Butler, Austen’s novels now tend to be read as the products of a particular time and place. Good examples of this kind of scholarship in addition to those already mentioned are Roberts 1979, which argues that, although she tried to remain aloof from them, Austen was profoundly affected by the events of the French Revolution, and Galperin 2003, which traces the development of Austen’s work within the historical context.

                                      • Butler, Marilyn. Jane Austen and the War of Ideas. Oxford: Clarendon, 1975.

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                                        Argues for the necessity of a politicized reading of Austen’s novels and provides examples of the insights that such a reading allows. Places Austen in a tradition of intellectual ideas and argues that she is a conservative, anti-Jacobin writer. Essential reading.

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                                      • Duckworth, Alistair M. The Improvement of the Estate: A Study of Jane Austen’s Novels. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971.

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                                        Takes the estate as a symbol of an entire moral and social heritage. Argues that Austen was committed to the traditional values of Christian humanist culture and individual social responsibility. Sees Austen as broadly conservative.

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                                        • Evans, Mary. Jane Austen and the State. London: Tavistock, 1987.

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                                          Argues (against Butler) that Austen does not endorse conservative views, instead advancing a radical critique of the morality of bourgeois capitalism. Evans’s feminist work suggests that Austen was concerned with articulating women’s rights and views while simultaneously drawing attention to the vulnerability of women in the economic marketplace.

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                                        • Galperin, William H. The Historical Austen. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003.

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                                          Rehistoricizes Austen in full awareness of the scholarly tradition post-Butler, arguing that Austen was far less consistently conservative or progressive, more self-reflexive, and more complicated than others had argued. Off-putting prose style but contains important insights.

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                                        • Johnson, Claudia. Jane Austen: Women, Politics and the Novel. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

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                                          Argues, contra Butler, that Austen allied herself with progressive and pro-reform social thought, particularly in the domain of women’s rights. Johnson describes Austen as a mildly subversive, ironic, and anticonservative writer, who “defended and enlarged a progressive middle ground that had been eaten away by the polarizing polemics born of the 1790s” (p. 166). One of the most important works in Austen criticism since 1990.

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                                        • Knox-Shaw, Peter. Jane Austen and the Enlightenment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511484353Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          Directly rebuts Butler’s assessment of Austen as an anti-Jacobin writer, making his argument through reference to several different strands of Enlightenment philosophical thought. He argues that Austen’s political position was both more fluid and less conservative than Butler contends. Provocative but convincing book.

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                                        • Roberts, Warren. Jane Austen and the French Revolution. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1979.

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                                          Takes a historicist approach, putting Austen’s works in the context of the events of the French Revolution and the Terror. Argues that Austen was profoundly affected by these events and that the novels reflect “the shifting social and moral currents of the age” (p. 11).

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                                        • Tuite, Clara. Romantic Austen: Sexual Politics and the Literary Canon. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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                                          Argues that understanding Austen’s relationship to the politics of Romanticism is key to understanding her work. Also makes the argument for a subversive and “queer” Austen. An important reassessment of Austen’s literary influences that politicizes this question.

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                                        Feminism

                                        The extent to which Austen was, or was not, a proto-feminist writer remains a matter of critical debate. Nineteenth-century criticism, with the exception of Oliphant 1870, tended to see her as antifeminist, or at least as content with her domestic lot. The tradition of scholarship that began with Oliphant 1870, which considered Jane Austen to be a serious and profoundly disaffected writer, rather than the kindly and affectionate authoress of earlier criticism, would not reach its height until the 1990s. Even the founding text of feminist literary history, Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (Woolf 1929), saw Austen as (miraculously) unharmed by her situation as a woman in a patriarchal world. The recuperative feminist literary history of the early 1970s provided a new context within which to consider Austen, and Austen critics responded to this challenge. Many of the books that established feminism as a paradigm for literary criticism included chapters or sections on Austen, including Patricia Meyer Spacks’s The Female Imagination (New York: Knopf, 1975), Elaine Showalter’s A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Bronté to Lessing (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977), and Nina Auerbach’s Communities of Women: An Idea in Fiction (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978). Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s influential The Madwoman in the Attic (Gilbert and Gubar 1979) contained an extended discussion of Jane Austen, which found in her a gendered “anxiety of authorship,” and suggested that she, like all women writers of her period, was stifled and victimized by the structures of patriarchy. Kirkham 1983 was the first full-length analysis of Jane Austen as a feminist writer. Smith 1983, Evans 1987 (cited under Politics and Society), and Sulloway 1989 also offer politicized feminist readings of the novels. Johnson 1988 (cited under Politics and Society), Armstrong 1987, and Poovey 1984 (cited under Style) combine feminist and political analysis, and many of the works already mentioned, such as Tuite 2002 (cited under Politics and Society), implicitly discuss the question of Austen’s feminism. The impetus to discuss Austen within the context of her female contemporaries, as seen in Waldron 1999 (cited under Literary Influence and Literary Context), also derives from feminism.

                                        • Armstrong, Nancy. Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

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                                          Contains chapters on Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Argues that Austen’s novels both legitimize and expose a constricting patriarchal ideology. Similar argument to Poovey 1984 (cited under Style).

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                                        • Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1979.

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                                          Groundbreaking work of feminist literary criticism. Very influential. Analyzes images of female characters in their restricting historical, economic, social, and cultural context, and argues that female writers are crippled by both an “anxiety of authorship” and the need to adopt male norms in their writing that distort the representation of female experience. Now considered somewhat outdated, but still essential reading.

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                                        • Kirkham, Margaret. Jane Austen, Feminism and Fiction. Brighton, UK: Harvester, 1983.

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                                          Through comparison to the protofeminist writers of the late 18th century, Kirkham contends that Austen’s views were very similar to theirs and thus makes the case for Austen’s feminism. Topics covered include Austen’s views on the status of women, female education, marriage, the family, and the representation of women. Historicizes Austen’s feminism.

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                                        • Looser, Devoney, ed. Jane Austen and Discourses of Feminism. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1995.

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                                          Collection of essays that differ in approach and conclusions but that all either explicitly or implicitly focus on the extent to which Austen can be considered a feminist writer.

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                                        • Oliphant, Margaret. “Miss Austen and Miss Mitford.” Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine 107 (1870): 290–313.

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                                          The first piece of criticism to consider Austen as subversive and to attribute this to her sense of alienation. Suggests that it is Austen’s social powerlessness that generates the power of her social criticism. A remarkable piece of writing, and very unusual in the 1870s, when hagiographical accounts of Austen’s life were much more common than this kind of criticism.

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                                          • Smith, LeRoy W. Jane Austen and the Drama of Woman. New York: St Martin’s, 1983.

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                                            Uses a framework taken from Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (Paris: Gallimard, 1949). Sees Austen’s novels as dramatizing the clash between the “aspirations of the ego” and the demands of patriarchy. Straightforward argument that sees Austen as a moderate feminist; useful for undergraduates as it recapitulates and synthesizes much previous scholarship.

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                                          • Sulloway, Alison. Jane Austen and the Province of Womanhood. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989.

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                                            Argues that Austen was a much more radically feminist writer than had previously been assumed. Highlights Austen’s radical qualities, and suggests that it is in and through Austen’s satire that we can best understand her feminism. In a more extreme version of Oliphant’s argument, Sulloway sees Austen as an “outsider” who rebelled against her period’s views of women.

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                                          • Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One’s Own. London: Hogarth, 1929.

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                                            Founding text of feminist literary criticism. Argues for the necessity of seeing writing by women within a tradition of women writers. Famously argues that women need money and independence in order to write. Sees Austen as an anomaly among women writers. Essential reading.

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                                            Education

                                            Jane Austen was profoundly interested in the question of education, in particular, women’s education. It was a topical question in her own time and is a pervading theme running through all the novels to some extent, although strongest in Mansfield Park. A number of studies, largely written since the 1970s, focus on this subject. Fergus 1983 discusses the relationship of Austen’s first three novels to their didactic predecessors, such as Richardson’s Sir Charles Grandison and Burney’s Cecilia, and argues that Austen’s novels have a didactic purpose, although it is more subtly presented than her predecessors’ purposes. Education is also the focus of Devlin 1975, in which the author considers Austen’s views on the educational theories of Locke and Shaftesbury. Horwitz 1991 turns more specifically to the question of women’s education, and Mooneyham White 1988 discusses the relationships between the conventions of romance, Austen’s use of language, and her views on education. Dobosiewicz 1997 takes a narrower, though fruitful, look at Austen’s interactions with educational matter in the shape of conduct literature.

                                            • Devlin, D. D. Jane Austen and Education. London: Macmillan, 1975.

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                                              Comprehensive treatment of education in Austen’s novels. Main focus on Mansfield Park. Argues that Austen was influenced by Locke but disagreed with Shaftesbury’s theories of education. Also constitutes a sustained attack on Mudrick 1952 (cited under Style).

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                                              • Dobosiewicz, Ilona. Female Relationships in Jane Austen’s Novels: A Critique of the Female Ideal Propagated in 18th Century Conduct Literature. Opole, Poland: Opole University, 1997.

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                                                Contends that Austen’s work is a sustained attack on the patriarchal ideologies contained in conduct books for women. Flawed but thought-provoking analysis.

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                                              • Fergus, Jan. Jane Austen and the Didactic Novel. Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble, 1983.

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                                                Places Austen in a tradition of didactic writers and suggests that Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice use particular techniques with greater effect than previous works in this tradition. Also a contribution to work on Austen’s literary influences.

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                                              • Horwitz, Barbara. Jane Austen and the Question of Women’s Education. New York: Lang, 1991.

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                                                Considers how Austen’s novels treat questions raised in the debates about women’s education that raged in her period. Argues that Austen’s thinking was much less doctrinaire than many of her contemporaries and suggests that her attitudes toward women’s education place her squarely in a protofeminist camp.

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                                              • Mooneyham White, Laura G. Romance, Language and Education in Jane Austen’s Novels. London: Macmillan, 1988.

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                                                Focus is on the educational aspects of linguistic communication. Like Fergus 1983, suggests that style and didacticism are linked.

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                                              Religion

                                              Though it is currently not a fashionable topic in Austen studies, Austen’s early critics and readers often commented on the religious dimension to Austen’s novels. Such comments were both approving (as in Whately’s praise of her unobtrusively Christian spirit; see Whately 1987, cited under Style) and disapproving (such as Cardinal Newman and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s remarks that her novels lacked spirituality). Modern critical appraisals of the role of religion in Austen’s work are rare, but those interested in the religious context should begin with Gary Kelly’s chapter on religion and politics (see Kelly 1997) and Michael Wheeler’s chapter on religion (see Wheeler 2005). The two full-length studies of the topic are Koppel 1988 and Collins 1994. Collins’s biography of Jane Austen, Jane Austen, the Parson’s Daughter (London: Hambledon, 1998) also makes a strong argument for the importance of religion in Austen’s life and writing.

                                              • Collins, Irene. Jane Austen and the Clergy. London: Hambledon, 1994.

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                                                Argues that the world Austen knew best was that of the country clergy and that this influenced her depictions of clergymen and religion in her novels. Provides much background information about the life and customs of Georgian clergymen and relates this to the novels.

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                                              • Kelly, Gary. “Religion and Politics.” In The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Edited by Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster, 149–169. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

                                                DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521495172Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Interesting essay that reminds us that, for Austen’s contemporaries, there was no real separation of religion and politics. A good introduction to the topic.

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                                              • Koppel, Gene. The Religious Dimension of Jane Austen’s Novels. Ann Arbor: UMI Research, 1988.

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                                                First full-length study of the religious facets of Austen’s novels. Argues that the development of plot, theme, and character in Austen’s works communicates the novelist’s deeply held religious beliefs.

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                                              • Wheeler, Michael. “Religion.” In Jane Austen in Context. Edited by Janet Todd, 406–413. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                                                Excellent introduction to the context of late-18th-century and early-19th-century religion. Recommended to undergraduates.

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                                              Film, Television, and Other Adaptations

                                              There are now hundreds of adaptations of Austen’s works for both the large and the small screen, and comprehensive filmographies can be found at the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Austen on Film and at Filmography of the Austen Movies by Type. Scholarship on the film and television adaptations of Austen’s work is a relatively recent phenomenon, although as early as 1975, Andrew Wright compiled a list of the adaptations to date (Wright 1975). Of the works in this field, Wiltshire 2001 is the most intellectually engaging, through Parrill 2002 is a good introduction for undergraduates. Both Troost and Greenfield 1998 and Macdonald and Macdonald 2003 are collections of essays from widely different perspectives and so provide good examples of the diversity of the field. In addition to the large number of television, radio, theatrical, and film adaptations of Austen’s works, there exist an enormous quantity of prequels, sequels, and spin-offs. Austen’s unfinished works have been completed by a variety of different writers (including her niece, Anna Lefroy, who wrote an ending to Sanditon). The website Republic of Pemberley, home to all sorts of Austen-related discussion, offers a list of sequels, prequels, continuations, and other spin-off works. Little scholarly work has been done on this literary/cultural phenomenon, though a number of critics have noted the popularity of a subcategory of “chick-lit” that draws for inspiration on Austen’s novels, and several have written about the intertextual references in Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary (New York: Viking, 1996).

                                              Reception and Readerships

                                              Jane Austen is a writer who has, over many years, inspired devotion in her readers. Arnold Bennett commented on the occasionally “fanatical” edge to this devotion during the height of the “Janeite” movement of the late 19th and early 20th century (see his “Books and Persons,” Evening Standard, 21 July 1927). Following the resurgence of popular interest in the 1990s, a number of critics, notable among them Claudia Johnson, began to consider Austen’s reception and readerships as fields of study in their own right. Accounts of the critical reception of her works began with Southam 1987 (cited under Bibliographies and Reference Works). Bautz 2007 contrasts the reception of Jane Austen to that of Walter Scott, a comparative approach that allows for some new insights. Mazzeno 2011 is an excellent synthesis and summary of two centuries of Austen criticism. The interest in popular readerships (as opposed to Austen’s reception by critics) was inaugurated by Johnson 1996, an article that was later reprinted in Lynch 2000, a collection of essays that all focus on Austen’s reception and readerships over time. Harman 2009 seeks to explain Austen’s enduring popularity through a discussion of her reception through time, and Halsey 2012 combines a stylistic analysis of Austen’s novels with interpretation of accounts of reading her works to suggest that the responses of Austen’s readers shed light on both Austen’s works and the cultural, social, and literary preoccupations of her readers.

                                              • Bautz, Annika. The Reception of Jane Austen and Walter Scott: A Comparative Longitudinal Study. London: Continuum, 2007.

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                                                Full-length comparative study of responses to Austen and Scott, covering the period 1811–2003. The comparative approach provides a helpful context for readers attempting to understand the changes over time of Austen’s reputation and readerships.

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                                              • Halsey, Katie. Jane Austen and Her Readers, 1786–1945. London: Anthem, 2012.

                                                DOI: 10.7135/UPO9780857289445Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Full-length study of readers in and readers of Austen’s novels. Discusses the relationship between Austen’s style and responses of her readers within a feminist–historicist framework.

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                                              • Harman, Claire. Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World. Edinburgh: Canongate, 2009.

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                                                Written for a nonspecialist readership and an accessible and enjoyable read. Collects and synthesizes much scattered material about Austen’s readers and reputation.

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                                              • Lynch, Deidre, ed. Janeites: Austen’s Disciples and Devotees. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

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                                                A slightly uneven collection of essays that highlights the diversity of responses to Austen’s work and concentrates on the ideological issues invested in different versions of Austen’s reputation.

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                                              • Johnson, Claudia. “The Divine Miss Jane: Jane Austen, Janeites, and the Discipline of Novel Studies.” boundary 2 23.3 (1996): 143–163.

                                                DOI: 10.2307/303640Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Article that sparked critical interests in Austen cults and cultures. Takes a queer-theoretical approach and focuses on the Janeites of the early 20th century.

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                                                • Mazzeno, Laurence W. Jane Austen: Two Centuries of Criticism. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2011.

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                                                  Invaluable synthesis of two centuries of Austen criticism, organized by literary movement. A very valuable guide for undergraduates or those new to the field of Austen studies.

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                                                European Reception

                                                Jane Austen’s reception in the non-English-speaking world is a subject of relatively recent critical interest. Gilson 1997 (cited under Bibliographies and Reference Works) lists translations of the works into the major European languages. Mandal and Southam 2007 collects scholarship on Austen’s reception across Europe, from Russia and Finland in the north to Italy and Spain in the south, covering a period of over two hundred years. Tekcan 2008 and Romero Sánchez 2008, both in the special issue of the journal Persuasions Online titled “Global Austen,” deal with Turkey and Spain, respectively. This special issue is also of interest to those wish to know more about Austen’s reception outside Europe, as it includes essays on Japan, China, the contemporary United States, and South India, among others. Cossy 2010 covers the French context well, while Cossy 2006 is a full-length study focusing on French translations in Switzerland. Dow 2007 and Brown and Dow 2011 provide a helpful context for Austen’s reception in Europe through discussions of other women writers in translation and the role of female networks in disseminating Austen’s work.

                                                Miscellaneous

                                                Many studies do not fit into any of the categories listed here but are still important contributions to the field. Of these, Trilling 1955 is still frequently cited by scholars today, though the author’s mode of criticism is sometimes now considered unfashionable. Sutherland 2005 refocused the attention of Austen scholars on textual transmission and editing. Wiltshire 1992 was influential in arguing for more careful attention to the physical body in Austen’s novels. The turn to postcolonial theory in the 1980s had little impact on Austen studies until the publication of Edward Said’s influential Culture and Imperialism (Said 1993). The long section on Mansfield Park in this book laid out the groundwork for subsequent postcolonial reading of Austen’s texts. McMaster and Stovel 1996 draws attention to the economic factors surrounding Austen’s writing practices, while Miles 2009 provides an excellent overview of arguments concerning Austen’s “Romantic” credentials and her “oppositionality.”

                                                • McMaster, Juliet, and Bruce Stovel, eds. Jane Austen’s Business: Her World and Her Profession. London: Macmillan, 1996.

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                                                  Collection of essays that examines Austen and her novels in relation to the business of writing. Includes essays by important Austen scholars, including Julia Prewitt Brown, Margaret Drabble, Jan Fergus, Isobel Grundy, Gary Kelly, and Elaine Showalter. Important for its focus on Austen as a consummate literary professional and also for its emphasis on the importance of economic factors.

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                                                • Miles, Robert. “New Historicism, New Austen, New Romanticism.” In Romanticism, History, Historicism: Essays on an Orthodoxy. Edited by Damien Walford Davies, 182–202. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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                                                  Constitutes a useful overview of arguments concerning the extent to which Austen is or is not a “Romantic” writer and her “oppositionality.” Summarizes recent work in the field. Very helpful addition to scholarly debate around these issues.

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                                                • Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. London: Chatto & Windus, 1993.

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                                                  Reads Mansfield Park from a postcolonial perspective. Very influential in initiating postcolonial interventions in the context of Austen studies. Said’s argument that the silences in Austen’s novels gesture toward the world outside the novels also has broader applicability outside the terms of postcolonial theory.

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                                                • Sutherland, Kathryn. Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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                                                  Discusses the textual transmission of Austen’s works. Focuses on the cultural context of each kind of text (e.g., manuscript, published novel, film) and the kinds of authority invested in them. Controversially argues that many of the stylistic qualities we now associate with Austen were, in fact, the result of choices made by her editors, publishers, and, in some cases, printers. Essential reading for serious Austen scholars.

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                                                • Trilling, Lionel. The Opposing Self: Nine Essays in Criticism. London: Secker and Warburg, 1955.

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                                                  Contains extremely influential essays, in particular, on Emma and Mansfield Park, which set the tone for much criticism that followed.

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                                                  • Wiltshire, John. Jane Austen and the Body: “The Picture of Health.” Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511586248Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    In contrast to the conventional idea that Austen avoids discussing the physical, Wiltshire argues that faces and bodies are vitally important in her texts. Relates the body and illness to social and gender politics. Sheds genuinely new light on Austen’s novels through its close readings.

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                                                  Criticism

                                                  Many of the works cited throughout this bibliography contain chapters on each of the novels, and some on the minor works. Of these, Harding 1998, Mudrick 1952 (both cited under Style), Trilling 1955 (cited under Miscellaneous), and Butler 1975 (cited under Politics and Society) are particularly provocative. The introductions to the individual volumes of the Cambridge Editions (Todd et al., 2005–2008, cited under Novels) provide the most up-to-date syntheses of the critical discourse surrounding each novel or minor work and should form the starting point of any research. Casebooks of critical essays function as useful introductions to the novels for undergraduates and exist for all the major novels.

                                                  Sense and Sensibility

                                                  Sense and Sensibility was the first of Austen’s novels to be published. Copeland 2006 introduces the novel with sensitivity and intelligence, discusses the composition and publishing history of Sense and Sensibility, and presents the critical heritage. The author’s focus on the economic vulnerability of Georgian women and intertextuality help to contextualize the novel effectively. Southam 1976 collects essays that discuss a variety of themes in and aspects of Sense and Sensibility, and can be recommended to undergraduates. Benedict 1990, Johnson 1989, and Kaufmann 1992 discuss three key aspects of the novel: politics and point of view, sensibility, and money, respectively.

                                                  • Benedict, Barbara M. “Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility: The Politics of Point of View.” Philological Quarterly 69.4 (1990): 453–470.

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                                                    Considers the politics of Austen’s use of point of view in Sense and Sensibility. Argues that Austen destabilizes the seemingly authoritative narrative voice by admitting into the novel the epistolary point of view and hence challenges the authority of narrative control itself. Complex argument but very helpful focus on narrative voice.

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                                                    • Copeland, Edward. “Introduction.” In Sense and Sensibility. By Jane Austen. Edited by Edward Copeland, xxiii–lxv. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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                                                      Succinctly covers composition and publication history and the most important social, political, and legal contexts for the novel, as well as providing a lucid account of the critical discourse surrounding it. Excellent account of economic factors in the novel.

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                                                    • Johnson, Claudia L. “A “Sweet Face as White as Death”: Jane Austen and the Politics of Female Sensibility.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 22.2 (1989): 159–174.

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                                                      Sensitive and perceptive article, written from a feminist perspective. Outlines the discourse surrounding feminine sensibility in the 18th century and argues that Austen criticizes patriarchal norms through her representation of sensibility. Recommended to undergraduates.

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                                                      • Kaufmann, David. “Law and Propriety, Sense and Sensibility: Austen on the Cusp of Modernity.” ELH 59.2 (1992): 385–408.

                                                        DOI: 10.2307/2873348Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        Discusses the legal underpinnings of British society in Austen’s period in relation to Sense and Sensibility. Very helpful article in providing context for the novel. Recommended to undergraduates.

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                                                        • Southam, Brian Charles, ed. Jane Austen: “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and “Mansfield Park”: A Casebook. London: Macmillan, 1976.

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                                                          Collection of essays that introduce themes for further study in Sense and Sensibility. Valuable introduction for undergraduates.

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                                                        Pride and Prejudice

                                                        Pride and Prejudice is probably the most popular of Austen’s novels and is certainly the one that has generated the most successful film and television versions. Rogers 2006 focuses on the political and social contexts of the novel, as well as its artistic qualities. There is a helpful section on the critical history of Pride and Prejudice and emphasis on historicizing the action of the novel. The notes to this edition are clear and easy to use. Southam 1976 contains a number of essays on Pride and Prejudice that introduce readers to the major areas of critical debate surrounding the novel. Halperin 1989 usefully summarizes a number of important aspects of Pride and Prejudice. Newton 1978 introduces a feminist political agenda to the novel, and Stovel 1989 deals with the key structural feature of secrets and surprises in the novel.

                                                        • Halperin, John. “Inside ‘Pride and Prejudice.’” Persuasions 11 (1989): 37–45.

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                                                          Introduces a number of important aspects of Pride and Prejudice. Discusses composition and publication history; also themes of morality, detachment, and moral education. Argues that the novel reveals much about Jane Austen herself.

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                                                          • Newton, Judith Lowder. “Pride and Prejudice: Power, Fantasy, and Subversion in Jane Austen.” Feminist Studies 4.1 (1978): 27–42.

                                                            DOI: 10.2307/3177624Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Argues that Pride and Prejudice implicitly discusses the differences between the economic privileges of middle-class men and the privations of middle-class women, but (like Poovey 1984, cited under Style) that Austen takes refuge in indirections, subversions, and fantasy.

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                                                            • Rogers, Pat. “Introduction.” In Pride and Prejudice. By Jane Austen. Edited by Pat Rogers, xxii–lxxviii. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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                                                              A general introduction to not only Pride and Prejudice but also Austen’s reading practices and how they impacted her writing style, the reputation of the novel, and various other important contexts. Clear and helpful account of composition and publication history.

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                                                            • Southam, Brian Charles, ed. Jane Austen: “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and “Mansfield Park”: A Casebook. London: Macmillan, 1976.

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                                                              Collection of essays that introduce themes for further study in Pride and Prejudice. Valuable introduction for undergraduates.

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                                                            • Stovel, Bruce. “Secrets, Silence, and Surprise in ‘Pride and Prejudice.’” Persuasions 11 (1989): 85–91.

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                                                              Discusses secrets, silences, and surprises as literary concepts that are at the heart of Pride and Prejudice. Proceeds by means of example and analysis. Straightforward essay; recommended to undergraduates.

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                                                              Mansfield Park

                                                              Mansfield Park is generally considered to be the least accessible of Austen’s novels, and, not coincidentally, it has therefore often attracted the most critical attention. Wiltshire 2005 provides an excellent introduction to the novel, covering the composition and publication history and critical reception in depth, and dealing with a number of contextual and intertextual issues. Wiltshire also deals well with the novel’s literary significance. Southam 1976 contains several essays on Mansfield Park, all of which cover different topics and hence provide a good introduction to the various issues at stake in readings of the novel. Representative articles covering areas of critical debate include Auerbach 1980, which discusses the “problem” of a heroine whom modern readers tend to find unsympathetic; Duckworth 1971, which provides a historicist reading of the novel related to the discourse of “improvement” in Austen’s period; Ferguson 1991, which gives a postcolonial perspective; and Marshall 1989, which deals with the question of acting and theatricality in the novel.

                                                              • Auerbach, Nina. “Jane Austen’s Dangerous Charm: Feeling as One Ought about Fanny Price.” Persuasions 2 (1980): 9–11.

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                                                                Takes on the problem of the unattractive heroine, Fanny Price, in Mansfield Park and argues that it is Fanny’s Romantic “monstrosity”—her opposition to the conventions of romantic comedy—that lends Fanny her disturbing strength. An earlier and shorter version of the article is available online.

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                                                                • Duckworth, Alistair M. “Mansfield Park and Estate Improvements: Jane Austen’s Grounds of Being.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 26.1 (1971): 25–48.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1525/ncl.1971.26.1.99p0066lSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Shorter version of Duckworth’s book. Argues that estate improvements have a key metaphorical place in Austen’s thinking. Analyzes Mansfield Park in relation to this idea. Recommended to undergraduates.

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                                                                  • Ferguson, Moira. “Mansfield Park: Slavery, Colonialism, and Gender.” Oxford Literary Review 13.1–2 (1991): 118–139.

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                                                                    Influential article in the field of postcolonial Austen studies. Argues that Mansfield Park is the mirror image of a slave estate and that Fanny plays the part of a slave. Unlike Said 1993 (under Miscellaneous), this article argues that Mansfield Park is not an idealized place.

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                                                                    • Marshall, David. “True Acting and the Language of Real Feeling: Mansfield Park.” Yale Journal of Criticism 3.1 (1989): 87–106.

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                                                                      Considers the importance of acting and the persistence of theatricality in Mansfield Park. Discusses the place of August von Kotzebue’s Lovers’ Vows (1791) in the novel.

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                                                                      • Southam, Brian Charles, ed. Jane Austen: “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and “Mansfield Park”: A Casebook. London: Macmillan, 1976.

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                                                                        Collection of essays that introduce themes for further study in Mansfield Park. Valuable introduction for undergraduates.

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                                                                      • Wiltshire, John. “Introduction.” In Mansfield Park. By Jane Austen. Edited by John Wiltshire, xxv–lxxxiv. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                                                                        Very helpful account of Mansfield Park’s critical reception, summarizing key themes and concerns in the novel. This edition also contains the full text of Kotzebue’s Lovers’ Vows and an introduction to that play that helpfully contextualizes its place in Mansfield Park.

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                                                                      Emma

                                                                      Many critics consider Emma to be the pinnacle of Austen’s artistic achievement. Cronin and McMillan 2005 provides an excellent introduction to Emma, including the novel’s critical reception, and deals well with the political, social, literary, and social contexts of the novel. There is, appropriately, significant emphasis on style and narrative voice. The notes to this edition are also useful. Booth 1961 provides an intelligent and helpful account of the complexities of the narrative voice and narrative mode of the novel. Lodge 1991 collects essays that take a variety of approaches to the text and deal with a number of different themes and contexts. Stafford 2007 is another collection of essays written from different perspectives. All four can be recommended to undergraduates. Articles on Emma tend to focus primarily on point of view and narrative voice. McMaster 1991 and Oberman 2009 argue that free indirect discourse is one of Austen’s key strategies in training readers in interpretive strategies. Halsey 2006 focuses on Austen’s use of the blush to suggest that one of these interpretive strategies is the deliberate undermining of narrative authority and the “bond” between the reader identified in Lascelles 1939 (cited under Style).

                                                                      • Booth, Wayne C. The Rhetoric of Fiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961.

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                                                                        Contains an excellent explication of the narrative mode of the novel (see pp. 243–266).

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                                                                        • Cronin, Richard. “Introduction.” In Emma. By Jane Austen. Edited by Richard Cronin and Dorothy McMillan, xxi–lxxiv. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                                                                          A clear and helpful introduction to the text, synthesizing critical debate and dealing efficiently with reception history, composition and publication, and major critical concerns.

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                                                                        • Halsey, Katie. “The Blush of Modesty or the Blush of Shame? Reading Jane Austen’s Blushes.” Forum for Modern Language Studies 42.3 (2006): 226–238.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/fmls/cql015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Argues that Austen’s use of the common 18th-century trope of the modestly blushing heroine is actually a means of challenging and subverting narrative control. A focus on narrative voice. Analyzes Emma and refers to other novels.

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                                                                          • Lodge, David, ed. Jane Austen, Emma: A Casebook. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1991.

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                                                                            Slightly dated but still helpful collection of essays that take a variety of approaches to the text. Originally published in 1968; revised edition recommended.

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                                                                          • McMaster, Juliet. “The Secret Languages of ‘Emma.’Persuasions 13 (1991):119–131.

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                                                                            Discusses speech, misunderstandings, and secrets in Emma. Argues that the multilayered discourse of the novel trains its readers in “complex articulation and ingenious interpretation” (p. 131).

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                                                                            • Oberman, Rachel Provenzano. “Fused Voices: Narrated Monologue in Jane Austen’s Emma.” Nineteenth-Century Literature 64.1 (2009): 1–15.

                                                                              DOI: 10.1525/ncl.2009.64.1.1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Focuses on free indirect discourse. Argues that careful attention to whose voice we are actually hearing helps the reader find the places where Emma lacks narrative authority and hence make better moral judgments.

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                                                                              • Stafford, Fiona, ed. Jane Austen’s Emma: A Casebook. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                A rather more up-to-date collection. A good selection of theoretical and critical approaches. Useful introduction to the text for undergraduates.

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                                                                              Persuasion

                                                                              Persuasion is the last of Austen’s completed novels, and it has a gentler, more elegiac tone. Todd and Blank 2006 focuses helpfully on historical and literary context, but also has a lengthy section on critical comments that details the areas of critical concern for this novel. Southam 1976 collects essays on Persuasion that introduce a number of key aspects. Collins 1975 and Hopkins 1987 focus on the morality and moral philosophy of Persuasion. Drawing on the tradition of scholarship started by Harding 1998 (cited under Style), Heydt-Stevenson 1995 discusses the deliberate awkwardnesses involved in Austen’s presentation of death in Persuasion and elsewhere.

                                                                              • Collins, K. K. “Mrs. Smith and the Morality of Persuasion.” Nineteenth Century Fiction 30.3 (1975): 383–397.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1525/ncl.1975.30.3.99p0369nSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Focuses on the character of Mrs. Smith in Persuasion to argue that she substantiates the moral vision of the novel and embodies two of the novel’s important themes: the dangers of giving advice and the importance of evidence. Helpfully introduces these themes.

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                                                                                • Heydt-Stevenson, Jill. “‘Unbecoming Conjunctions’: Mourning the Loss of Landscape and Love in Persuasion.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 8.1 (1995): 51–71.

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                                                                                  Focuses on Austen’s sometimes awkward or deliberately tactless reactions to grief. Argues that Austen acknowledges the ability to sympathize with the mourner depends in some part on the “tastefulness” of the one who grieves. Introduces the themes of death and mourning in Persuasion.

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                                                                                  • Hopkins, Robert. “Moral Luck and Judgment in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.” Nineteenth-Century Literature 42.2 (1987): 143–158.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1525/ncl.1987.42.2.99p0089vSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Discusses the relationship between luck and judgment in the novel. Argues that Persuasion is a complex piece of moral philosophy that shows the burden that the Western world places on individual moral choice.

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                                                                                    • Southam, Brian Charles, ed. Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion: A Selection of Critical Essays. London: Macmillan, 1976.

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                                                                                      Good selection of essays to introduce undergraduates to Persuasion.

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                                                                                    • Todd, Janet, and Antje Blank. “Introduction.” In Persuasion. By Jane Austen. Edited by Janet Todd and Antje Blank, xxi–lxxxii. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                      A strong focus on historical and literary context. Summarizes critical reception and critical debate helpfully. Includes section on the cancelled manuscript chapters of the novel.

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                                                                                    Northanger Abbey

                                                                                    Although the last to be published, Northanger Abbey was one of Austen’s earliest completed works, and it hence has a relatively complicated composition and publication history, which is well summarized in Benedict and Le Faye 2006. The main focus of the introduction is the literary context, although the reception history is also covered effectively. Southam 1976 contains essays that introduce readers to various aspects of the novel. De Rose 1983, Looser 1993, and Shaw 1990 introduce the key critical questions of the role of the imagination in Northanger Abbey, the context of the antinovel discourse of Austen’s time, and the importance of the revision process for the final novel, respectively.

                                                                                    • Benedict, Barbara M., and Deirdre Le Faye. “Introduction.” In Northanger Abbey. By Jane Austen. Edited by Barbara M. Benedict and Deirdre Le Faye, xxiii–lxii. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                      A focus on the composition and publication history, which is helpful. A succinct section on literary context is also valuable. Useful account of the novel’s critical reception.

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                                                                                    • De Rose, Peter L. “Imagination in Northanger Abbey.” University of Mississippi Studies in English 4 (1983):62–76.

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                                                                                      Argues that Northanger Abbey is an “anti-romance” and that Austen was influenced by Dr. Johnson in disapproving of romances. The heroine’s imagination must therefore be disciplined.

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                                                                                      • Looser, Devoney. “(Re)Making History and Philosophy: Austen’s Northanger Abbey.” European Romantic Review 4.1 (1993): 34–56.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/10509589308569969Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Focuses on the terms “history,” “philosophy,” and “novel.” Argues that Austen believed the novel could represent a special kind of “truth” to readers. Helpful in its focus on the context of the anti-novel debate in Austen’s period.

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                                                                                        • Shaw, Narelle. “Free Indirect Speech and Jane Austen’s 1816 Revision of Northanger Abbey.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 30.4 (1990): 591–601.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/450561Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          Considers the complicated composition and publication history of Northanger Abbey. Analyzes the examples of free indirect speech to suggest that the parts of the novel in which these appear are likely to have been the work of a mature author. Usefully introduces the importance of considering internal evidence when trying to date parts of the work.

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                                                                                          • Southam, Brian Charles, ed. Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion: A Selection of Critical Essays. London: Macmillan, 1976.

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                                                                                            Good selection of essays to introduce undergraduates to Northanger Abbey.

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                                                                                          Juvenilia and Unfinished Works

                                                                                          The juvenile works show Austen’s early love of the melodramatic, the absurd, and the bawdy, while her later unfinished works show how her style and interests developed. Austen’s juvenile and unfinished works are probably of most interest to those who wish to see how Austen developed from a brilliant and precocious young writer to the mature genius of her later fiction. It is worth reading these works if only to see how hard Austen must have worked at the process of rewriting and revising her mature novels, and much criticism (including Sabor 2006 and Todd and Bree 2008) focuses on this question. However, any reader of Austen’s completed novels will also enjoy the manuscript works for their effervescent humor. Sabor 2006 and Todd and Bree 2008 provide clear and succinct introductions to the juvenilia and later works, respectively. Halperin 1983, Levine 1961, and Pickrel 1988 all discuss the later works, while the best recent article on the juvenile works is Leffel 2011.

                                                                                          • Halperin, John. “Jane Austen’s Anti-Romantic Fragment: Some Notes on Sanditon.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 2.2 (1983): 183–191.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/463719Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            Focuses on Austen’s last work, Sanditon. Introduces a number of themes in the fragment, including improvement and reading. Good introduction to the work for undergraduates.

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                                                                                            • Leffel, John C. “‘Everything Is Going to Sixes and Sevens’: Governing the Female Body (Politic) in Jane Austen’s Catharine, or The Bower (1792).” Studies in the Novel 43.2 (2011): 131–151.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/sdn.2011.0016Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Discusses Austen’s early work, Catherine, or The Bower, and argues that Austen’s fragment constitutes an attack on contemporary notions of proper female behavior.

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                                                                                              • Levine, Jay Arnold. “Lady Susan: Jane Austen’s Character of the Merry Widow.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 1.4 (1961): 23–34.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/449385Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Focuses on the short novella Lady Susan, arguing against previous critics who saw the novella as unsuccessful. Suggests some sources for the character of the “merry widow.”

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                                                                                                • Pickrel, Paul. “‘The Watsons’ and the Other Jane Austen.” ELH 55.2 (1988): 443–467.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2873212Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Pickrel frames his article through the use of Mudrick 1952 and Harding 1998 (both cited under Style) to argue that The Watsons is a key text in understanding and reformulating the debate over whether or not Jane Austen was an angry and alienated outsider.

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                                                                                                  • Sabor, Peter. “Introduction.” In Juvenilia. By Jane Austen. Edited by Peter Sabor, xxiii–lxvii. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                    Clear, comprehensive introduction to the juvenile works, including their composition and publication history. Helpful material on all of the major texts. Summarizes critical debate. Highly recommended.

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                                                                                                  • Todd, Janet, and Linda Bree. “Introduction.” In Later Manuscripts. By Jane Austen. Edited by Janet Todd and Linda Bree, xxxi–cxxix. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                    Lucid and helpful introduction to the later manuscript works. Covers composition and publication history and summarizes critical debate. Highly recommended.

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