By Claudia L. Johnson, Clara Tuite

Reflecting the dynamic and expansive nature of Austen reviews, A significant other to Jane Austen presents forty two essays from a amazing staff of literary students that learn the whole breadth of the English novelist's works and occupation.

  • Provides the main entire and up to date array of Austen scholarship
  • Functions either as a scholarly reference and as a survey of the main leading edge speculative advancements within the box of Austen stories
  • Engages at size with altering contexts and cultures of reception from the 19th to the twenty-first centuries

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Example text

Anna’s memories reached back to the time when Aunt Jane was barely 20, and they are touchingly quirky. Jane Austen found a second self or mirror image in Jane Anna Elizabeth Austen, whose life intersects and annotates her aunt’s in surprising ways. Brought to live at Steventon rectory in 1795, aged two, on her mother’s sudden death, Anna remained there, mothered by Cassandra and Jane, until her father’s second marriage in 1797. As a result, she maintained an intense attachment to the female household at Steventon and then at Chawton, often returning for long periods during later childhood and adolescence.

Henry may have acted as an unofficial literary agent, but he also failed in business and he seems to have been kept in the dark about her writings until the latest possible moment (Letters: 255, 335). The evidence afforded by Austen’s increasingly confident independent literary negotiations – for example, with John Murray and the Prince Regent’s librarian – has so far carried little weight; as has the possible assistance of her sisterin-law, Eliza Austen, in the publication of her first novel (Letters: 182).

Though we know we must not, under pain of the crassest naïveté, read the novels into the life/the life out of the novels, nonetheless we seek to connect them: the fiction must have a plausible psychogenesis. It does not; and not only does it fail in this respect, it is disconcerting to discover how little in the early family accounts sought to make the connection. In the absence of diaries, which were either destroyed or never existed, the letters are the only evidence we have of a personal Jane Austen speaking/writing in her own voice, unmediated by fictional form.

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