Critical Insights: Jane Austen

Critical Insights Series

The series focuses on an individual author's entire body of work, a single work of literature, or a literary theme.

At a Glance
  • 1 Volume; 300 Pages
  • 10-14 essays offering Current Critical Analysis by Top Literary Scholars
  • Introductory Essay by the Editor
  • Chronology of Author's Life
  • Complete List of Author's Works
  • Publication Dates of Works
  • Detailed Bio of the Editor
  • General Bibliography
  • General Subject Index
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Edited by Laurence W. Mazzeno

This Critical Insights volume on Pride and Prejudice is designed to provide students and non-specialists in Austen studies an introduction to one of the most widely read novels of the past two centuries.

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Editor: Jack Lynch,
    Associate Professor of English, Rutgers Univ.
October 2009 · 1 volume · 360 pages · 6"x9"

Includes Online Database with Print Purchase
ISBN: 978-1-58765-638-5
# of Pages: 360
# of Volumes: 1
Print List Price: $105
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e-ISBN: 978-1-58765-639-2
eBook Single User Price: $105

In-depth critical discussions of her life and works - Plus complimentary, unlimited online access to the full content of this great literary reference.

By all accounts, Jane Austen seems to have lived a quiet, circumscribed life. The daughter of a Hampshire clergyman, she never married and rarely ventured outside the close-knit circle of her family and friends. But while her life may have been uneventful, her novels reveal a keen wit, an acute eye for social foibles, and a masterful prose style. Never out of print, her six novels have attracted a legion of enthusiastic fans and spawned multiple unofficial sequels and prequels as well as television and film adaptations.

Edited and with an introduction by Jack Lynch, Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University, this volume brings together a variety of essays discussing Austen and her work. Original essays offer readers an introduction to Austen by explicating the culture and time period during which Austen wrote her classic novels and the long history of Austen criticism as well as by offering close readings of two of her novels, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion.

Nine other essays are reprinted here to deepen readers' understanding of Austen and strengthen their engagement with the critical concerns surrounding her and her work. These essays examine Austen's artistry and aesthetics; discuss her relationship with 18th century authors like Samuel Richardson, Fanny Burney, and Eliza Haywood; illuminate her treatment of gender, courtship, and sex; investigate her portrayals of the English class system; and reveal her engagement with prominent religious and philosophical questions of the early 19th century. Uniquely, the volume also contains an original essay by Paris Review contributor Radhika Jones, who discusses Austen's enduring appeal and her influence on modern novel genres.

Finally, a chronology of Austen's life, a thorough list of her published works, and an extensive bibliography of critical offerings provide a wealth of resources for readers desiring to study Austen in greater depth.

Contributors include Bernard Paris, Professor Emeritus at the University of Florida and the author of numerous studies of 19th century literature; Susan Morgan, Professor of English at Miami University of Ohio and author of In the Meantime: Character and Perception in Jane Austen's Fiction (1980); Jill Heydt-Stevenson, Associate Professor of English and Humanities at the University of Colorado and author of Austen's Unbecoming Conjunctions: Subversive Laughter, Embodied History (2005); and William Deresiewicz, a former Associate Professor of English at Yale University, a contributor to The American Scholar, The Nation, and The New York Times, and author of Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets (2004).

Each essay is 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:

A chronology of the author's life
A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
A general bibliography
A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
Notes on the individual chapter authors
A subject index

From "About This Volume"
Few authors have inspired the same kind of devotion as Jane Austen. With such a small oeuvre—just six novels, a handful of juvenile writings, and a modest collection of letters—it may seem odd that she has created so many dedicated fans, so many reading groups, so many films, so many television adaptations, so many sequels and continuations. And yet the vividness of her world and the depths of her characters have turned countless people into “Janeites,” whether they are academics in tweed jackets or enthusiasts who dress like Emma. As early as 1849, the author of Outlines of General Literature referred to “Miss Austen, whose novels may be considered as models of perfection in a new and very difficult species of writing.” Generations of readers have agreed.

This collection brings together a selection of recent representative critical essays on Austen from a variety of perspectives. All of them take for granted the brilliance of her achievement, but they also make the case that she deserves to be taken seriously as a major writer and a major thinker. After opening with several short introductory essays, the volume moves on to consider Austen’s critical contexts through a series of wide-ranging overviews of her life and works. The section that follows, “Critical Readings,” provides samples of critical close readings from a number of schools of thought. The volume is rounded out by a chronology of the important events in Austen’s life, a list of her works, and a bibliography with suggestions for further reading.