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Jane Austen


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Among the most important English novelists, Jane Austen is unusual because she is esteemed not only by academics but by the reading public. Her novels continue to sell well, and films adapted from her works enjoy strong box-office success. The trajectory of Austen criticism is intriguing, especially when one compares it to that of other nineteenth-century English writers. At least partly because she was a woman in the early nineteenth century, she was long neglected by critics, hardly considered a major figure in English literature until well into the twentieth century, a hundred years after her death. But consequently she escaped the reaction against Victorianism that did so much to hurt the reputation of Dickens, Tennyson, Arnold, and others. How she rose to prominence among academic critics - and has retained her position through the constant shifting of academic and critical trends - is a story worth telling, as it suggests not only something about Austen's artistry but also about how changes in critical perspective can radically alter a writer's reputation.

Laurence W. Mazzeno is President Emeritus of Alvernia University, Reading, Pennsylvania.


[W]ill make shelf-challenged booklovers willingly dust off more space. . . . [A] useful tool for assessing past writings and approaches, a solid base upon which to build further scholarship. JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA NEWSLETTER

A seminal work of academic excellence and an especially recommended addition to personal and academic library reference collections and reading lists. MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

A generous, articulate, well-organized, and, amazingly, . . . inviting survey of biography and exegesis. . . . Mazzeno's study is capacious and comprehensive in range and witness. WORDSWORTH CIRCLE


First Published: 02 May 2011
13 Digit ISBN: 9781571133946
Pages: 312
Size: 9 x 6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Camden House
BIC Class: DS

Details updated on 16 Mar 2016


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  Becoming England's Jane, 1811-1917
  • 3  Modernist, Humanist, and New CriticalApproaches, 1918-1948
  • 4  The Zenith of Formalist and Humanist Criticism, 1949-1974
  • 5  The Austen Bicentenary, 1975 (and Beyond)
  • 6  The Feminist Revolution in Austen Studies, 1976-1990
  • 7  Austen among the Theorists, 1976-1990
  • 8  Traditional Criticism, 1976-1990
  • 9  Theory-Based Criticism of Austen, 1991-2008
  • 10  Traditional Approaches to Austen, 1991-2008
  • 11  Speculations on the Future
  • 12  Works by Jane Austen
  • 13  Chronological List of Works Cited
  • 14  Index

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