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Jane Austen, the Secret Radical

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Yet every self-respecting introduction to every paperback edition of the novel has always pointed this out. e. far more into romantic notions than what was good for me, so the chapter has special interest to me. Fanny’s father, a former marine officer fond of the bottle, is “undoubtedly” a sadist, Kelly tells us (there is no evidence in the novel).

However, a lot of the conclusions the book is presenting as groundbreaking revelations are simply too far-fetched to be in any way believable. Decline and Fall" places the novel in perspective of Jane's personal life and the alteration in British society. If the “we” envisioned here means fans who have come to Jane Austen through the filmed adaptations and other popular-culture manifestations, those publicists are doubtless correct.Either hire a British narrator or let the American one just speak in her own voice, this switching to a really uncomfortable British accent every time a quote comes up is incredibly distracting. Yes it is true that it's impossible to read a book in the same way as it was read at the time of its publication after two centuries, and the background information the author provides is always interesting, but the claims that Austen chose the names of her heroines in Persuasion as a veiled critique of the Hannoverian succession, or that the apricot tree mentioned by Mrs Norris is a hidden reference to the Church of England's ties to the slave trade, are franky ridiculous. While Kelly is making her claims about the subtexts that have evaded previous critics, Austen admirers will keep noticing little mistakes about what is going on in the novels.

The marriage plot is for Austen a Trojan horse, infiltrating her ideas into the reader’s consciousness without our fully realizing it. When you strip out the speculation and occasionally rather forced arguments this book actually adds very little hard evidence to what we already know. Her justification (Austen’s assertion that it is in fiction that one will find “the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties”) was convincing, but I found the approach grating.This was a very interesting read and I absolutely sped through it - surprising for a work of literary criticism!

I really feel Helena does provide plenty of information I hadn't previously considered at all, there ARE secrets that I, someone pretty darn interested in Jane, was surprised to read from Helena. The point readers have traditionally assumed is that the girls have yet to learn the moral self-control Fanny has acquired at Mansfield Park, not that they are prepared (armed by Fanny) to slit their father’s throat. The author reveals just how in the novels we find the real Jane Austen: a clever, clear-sighted woman "of information," fully aware of what was going on in the world and sure about what she thought of it. She decides that Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility is probably the biological father of the young woman Willoughby has seduced. e. the inherent threat of a large group of armed strangers in your town, the poverty facing the Bennet sisters because of entailments, etc.Austen scholars, by contrast, will find less that is new or surprising, along with some ideas that are overstated or simply odd. Misinterpretation, or reading our modern sensibilities and modern knowledge onto Jane, is very common. I enjoyed this but agree with those reviewers who feel that it is (1) overly assertive about what Austen thought and felt - something which it criticises fairly fiercely in other authors -, that (2) it draws some fairly tenuous connections (just one example; Edward Ferrars and the scissors is far too heavily relied upon for what is ultimately a fairly weak Freudian interpretation) and (3) it could have done without the fictitious/imaginary sections. Husbands could beat their wives, rape them, imprison them, take their children away, all within the bounds of the law.

Any academic paper, or even study guide, will offer up a great deal more reward for considerably less effort.And she has a tendency to get overly enthusiastic and take her arguments beyond a reasonable point (especially when they are tainted with Freudian nonsense). What this radical re-reading … does so brilliantly is to exhort us all to chuck out the chintz, and the teacups, and all the traditional romantic notions about Austen’s work that have been fed to us for so long … However well you think you know the novels, you’ll be raring to read them again once you’ve read this.

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