Jane Austen's Heroines: Intimacy in Human Relationships

Jane Austen's Heroines: Intimacy in Human Relationships

Jane Austen's Heroines: Intimacy in Human Relationships

Jane Austen's Heroines: Intimacy in Human Relationships


This four volume backlist collection brings together an array of criticism written about the works of Jane Austen, encompassing everything from a detailed analysis of her six published novels, through to an investigation of the heroines within her fiction, a re-evaluation of her political subtext and proto-feminism, and even a French appreciation of her work.

Published between 1924 and 1987, these four reissued works offer a thorough and engaging insight into Jane Austen and the canon of Austen criticism, which will appeal to the general reader as well as to undergraduates studying 19th Century English Literature and the rise of the novel.


Elizabeth Hardwick has sounded a warning to anyone writing a book on Jane Austen: ‘One thing, I think, we may surely say … is that she is much more fun to read than to read about.’ While this is also true of other great writers, it is, perhaps, particularly apt as a comment on Austen. Seemingly it has proved difficult to capture what is quintessential about her work, a good deal of criticism having failed to do it justice. In this respect we are reminded of Virginia Woolf’s words: ‘Of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness.’

The attempt to do this has most often resulted in what has been called (and challenged as) ‘the prevailing view of Austen as a cool, rational comedienne of manners who delineates social surfaces and measures comic aberrations against the stable moral norms of a civilisation in whose values she has supreme confidence’. Such a view rests too easily in externals. It is not merely question-begging in terms of the ‘values’ it assumes, but it deflects consideration away from Austen’s subtle and original portrayal of her heroines. The unsympathetic modern reader may show irritation at a seemingly irrelevant set of oldfashioned conventions, but the discerning reader can surely be encouraged to see what these become a background or vehicle for – almost a unique insight into what is of central importance in human relationships.

The Austen heroine comes to enjoy a distinctive . . .

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