A Companion to Jane Austen Studies
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Jane Austen significantly shaped the development of the English novel, and her works continue to be read widely today. Though she is best known for her novels, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion, she also wrote poems, letters, prayers and various pieces of juvenalia. These writings have been attracting the attention of scholars; her major works have already generated a large body of scholarly and critical studies. This reference is a guide to her works and the response to them.
Austen's works are fraught with ambiguity. Because she was adept at displaying numerous aspects of an issue, her writings invite multiple interpretations. In light of the ambiguity of her texts, each of her major works is approached from a reader-response perspective, in which an expert contributor illuminates the reader's relationship to her writing. And because so many readers have had such varied responses to her novels, the volume also includes chapters summarizing the critical response to each of her major works. In addition, the book includes separate chapters on her poems, letters, and prayers.
110–117. MacDonagh, Oliver. Jane Austen: Real and Imagined Worlds. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991. McMaster, Juliet, and Bruce Stovel, ed. Jane Austen’s Business: Her World and Her Profession. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996. Moers, Ellen. Literary Women: The Great Writers. New York: Anchor Books, 1977. Morgan, Susan. In the Meantime: Character and Perception in Jane Austen’s Fiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980. Morgan, Thais, ed. Her Father’s Eyes, Staff, and Support:
example), and true also that a number of recent works preserve the method of following issues through the individual novels chapter by chapter. However, the broad tendency is clear, and this means that a number of the best recent discussions of MP occur in dispersed sections of a given monograph. The first really important study in this period came with Alastair M. Duck- 80 A Companion to Jane Austen Studies worth’s The Improvement of the Estate (1971). This could be defined as the only
the new student toward a way of understanding the body of works that have been chosen for consideration. Thus, the periodization that was set by early advocates of literary study, the idea that writers are represent by, say, Elizabethan or Neoclassical or Romantic characteristics, was put into place for cogency in a world already overflowing with writers and writing. Once this process of conceptualization begins, once a canon of writers is defined on post facto terms, another separate debate
Richardson’s most famous heroine, Pamela Andrews, is a servant girl who must consistently defend her chastity against her wealthy employer’s sexual advances. Pamela despises the Rereading Jane Austen 117 hero from his repeated rape attempts until the moment he sincerely proposes marriage; only then does she suddenly realize that she loves him. Pamela is rewarded with marriage to Mr. B, the wealthy would-be seducer turned guide and protector. In Shamela, Fielding directly parodies Richardson’s
orchestrated, and dreaming of a young man she is fond of exemplifies the new kind of unheroic and thus common and realistic behavior readers can expect from Catherine Morland. Catherine’s waking behavior is also in direct opposition to Richardson’s rules of feminine decorum and corresponding characterizations. Unlike Richardson’s Pamela, Catherine does not attempt to hide her feelings. As Henry snubs Catherine for neglecting her promise to walk with him, her feelings are “natural” rather than