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30 Great Myths about Jane Austen

Johnson, Claudia L. / Tuite, Clara


1. Auflage August 2020
224 Seiten, Softcover
Wiley & Sons Ltd

ISBN: 978-1-119-14686-5
John Wiley & Sons

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A fascinating look into the myths that continue to shape our understanding and appreciation of Jane Austen.

Was Jane Austen the best-selling novelist of her time? Are all her novels romances? Did they depict the traditional world of the aristocracy? Is Austen's writing easy to understand? Well into the 21st century, Jane Austen continues to be one of the most compelling novelists in all English literature. Many of her ideas about class, family, history, intimacy, manners, love, desire, and society, have inspired "myths" that are often contradictory -- she was a Tory who was also a liberal feminist, or, her novels are at once sharply satirical and unapologetically romantic. Myths, like Austen's works, are dynamic, changing over time and impacting how we read and interpret literature.

30 Great Myths about Jane Austen examines the accepted beliefs -- both true and untrue --that have most influenced our readings of Austen. Rather than simply de-bunking, or validating, commonly-held views about Austen, authors Claudia L. Johnson and Clara Tuite explore how these myths can be used to engage with the life, work, and reception of Jane Austen. Applying the most up-to-date scholarship to better understand how myths shape our appreciation of Jane Austen, this fascinating volume:
* Introduces readers to the history of Austen reception, both in academic scholarship and in the general public
* Examines Jane Austen's life and letters, her historical contexts, her texts, and their afterlives
* Discusses Austen's influence on the development of literary criticism as a discipline
* Explores each of Austen's main novels, as well as relatively obscure texts such as Sanditon and The Watsons

Offering engaging narrative and original insights, 30 Great Myths about Jane Austen is a must-read for scholars, instructors, and students of English and Romantic literature, as well as general readers with interest in the life and works of Jane Austen.

Abbreviations and Note on the Text vii

Acknowledgements viii

Introduction xi

Myth 1 Jane Austen had no interest in fame 1

Myth 2 There is no sex in Jane Austen's novels 7

Myth 3 Jane Austen wrote on little bits of ivory 14

Myth 4 Jane Austen's juvenilia are scraps which she outgrew 19

Myth 5 Jane Austen's novels are naturalistic 27

Myth 6 Jane Austen was unconscious of her art 34

Myth 7 Northanger Abbey is a spoof on Gothic fiction 43

Myth 8 The Bath Jane Austen knew and loathed 49

Myth 9 Jane Austen's writing is easy to understand 56

Myth 10 Sense and Sensibility is a satire on sensibility 61

Myth 11 Jane Austen was the best-selling novelist of her time 66

Myth 12 Regency Austen 72

Myth 13 Only women read Jane Austen 80

Myth 14 As Pride and Prejudice shows, all Austen's novels are love stories 85

Myth 15 Jane Austen never mentions the war 93

Myth 16 Something happened to Jane Austen when she wrote Mansfield Park 101

Myth 17 Jane Austen disapproved of the theater 107

Myth 18 Jane Austen was a Christian moralist 114

Myth 19 In Emma, Jane Austen created a heroine no one but an author would love 120

Myth 20 Jane Austen and the amorous effects of brass 128

Myth 21 Persuasion is an autumnal novel 134

Myth 22 Jane Austen was a feminist/Jane Austen was not a feminist 141

Myth 23 Jane Austen's letters are mean and trivial 147

Myth 24 Jane Austen was anonymous 155

Myth 25 Jane Austen's novels depict the traditional world of the aristocracy 160

Myth 26 Jane Austen was a comic novelist 168

Myth 27 Jane Austen's novels are about good manners 174

Myth 28 Jane Austen's muslins 179

Myth 29 Jane Austen writes escape fiction 187

Myth 30 Jane Austen was a star-crossed lover 193

Further Reading 200

Index 203
Claudia L. Johnson is the Murray Professor of English at Princeton University. She specializes in Eighteenth-Century and Nineteenth-Century British literature, and gender studies. Renowned for her works on Jane Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft, Johnson's books include Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel; Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender and Sentimentality in the 1790s; and Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures, which won the Christian Gauss Award.

Clara Tuite is Professor of English at the University of Melbourne, a Co-Director of the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Contemporary Culture Research Unit, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Her books include Romantic Austen: Sexual Politics and the Literary Canon and Lord Byron and Scandalous Celebrity, which was awarded the Elma Dangerfield Prize by the International Association of Byron Societies.

C. L. Johnson, Princeton, NJ; C. Tuite, University of Melbourne, Australia