What Matters in Jane Austen?

What Matters in Jane Austen?

Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved

Book - 2013
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Which important Austen characters never speak? Is there any sex in Austen? What do the characters call one another, and why? What are the right and wrong ways to propose marriage? In What Matters in Jane Austen? , John Mullan shows that we can best appreciate Austen's brilliance by looking at the intriguing quirks and intricacies of her fiction. Asking and answering some very specific questions about what goes on in her novels, he reveals the inner workings of their greatness.

In twenty short chapters, each of which explores a question prompted by Austens novels, Mullan illuminates the themes that matter most in her beloved fiction. Readers will discover when Austen's characters had their meals and what shops they went to; how vicars got good livings; and how wealth was inherited. What Matters in Jane Austen? illuminates the rituals and conventions of her fictional world in order to reveal her technical virtuosity and daring as a novelist. It uses telling passages from Austen's letters and details from her own life to explain episodes in her novels: readers will find out, for example, what novels she read, how much money she had to live on, and what she saw at the theater.
Written with flair and based on a lifetime's study, What Matters in Jane Austen? will allow readers to appreciate Jane Austen's work in greater depth than ever before.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury Press, 2013
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9781620400418
Branch Call Number: 823 Au74mu
Characteristics: 342p

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Harriet_the_Spy Jun 24, 2013

Makes thinking seriously about literature very accessible. You don't have to read it right through but can go straight to the chapters that discuss issues of interest--but don't miss the last chapter where Mullan lays out in detail how truly miraculous Austen's innovations were, and how much we a... Read More »


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ArapahoeLaura May 26, 2017

What I had hoped to be a delightful read quickly turned into academic blabbering that I quit reading after 40 pages. Next time, I'll go back to the source when I'm in a Jane Austen mood.

CCR_NYC Mar 22, 2014

Great book for Austen lovers, though I'm not sure that it "solves crucial puzzles." The author provides loads of historical context (e.g. what it means to wear mourning clothes); explains social mores in detail and when she was poking fun at established convention; and points out how Austen advanced novel-writing. Very enjoyable and sure to enhance my next re-reading of any of her books.

Harriet_the_Spy Jun 24, 2013

Makes thinking seriously about literature very accessible. You don't have to read it right through but can go straight to the chapters that discuss issues of interest--but don't miss the last chapter where Mullan lays out in detail how truly miraculous Austen's innovations were, and how much we are indebted to her for the shape of the contemporary English novel. Made me load up all of Austen on my e-reader for my next vacation!

akarenina Jun 04, 2013

I completed 2/3 of this book and found it rather tedious. One really needs to know all the Austen characters, major and very minor, in order to appreciate the author's critical maneuvering from one novel to another. I much prefer to read the Norton editions of each text followed by the corresponding criticism.

ksoles May 30, 2013

I initially borrowed this book from the library for my partner, the Austen aficionado of the family, but she enjoyed it so much that I thought I'd flip through it myself. Though I admit to not reading every word of John Mullan's detailed, academic work, I found much of his discussion approachable and fascinating.

"What Matters In Jane Austen?" answers both broad and specific questions: do Austen's characters have sex? How do her voiceless characters affect her plots? What does the way in which characters address each other (Christian names vs. Mr./Mrs.) say about their relationship?

Death, jealousy, snobbery, hatred and, of course, pride and prejudice, all feature prominently in Austen's novels. She neither glosses over the unpleasant aspects of life in early nineteenth century England nor those of human nature. Mullan brings this fact to light in a way that will engross both Austen fans and those who have only dabbled in her oeuvre.

k
kazareads
Dec 29, 2012

A fascinating read for Austen lovers.
John Mullan's insights from years of teaching her are illuminating; articulating the brilliancy of her insight and technique, which I have appreciated only intuitively until now.
I highly recommend it to add pleasure to rereading Austen.

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