Jane Austen and Eighteenth-Century Courtesy Books


One of the most important novelists of the early 19th century, Jane Austen (1775-1817) continues to be read and studied today. Throughout her novels, she creates characters who embody various virtues and limitations. The best characters represent the best behavior, just as the less admirable ones behave in less admirable ways. The courtesy books of the 18th century advise certain moral behavior for character development. This book studies Austen's parallels to 18th century courtesy books. Educational and recreational activities in Austen's novels, such as reading, dancing, card-playing, and theatre-going, are often similar to those activities recommended in the courtesy books with which Austen would have been familiar. So too, various social activities and personal characteristics depicted in Austen's novels frequently accord with courtesy book recommendations.


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