Friday, February 21, 2020

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical

Jane Austen, the Secret RadicalJane Austen, the Secret Radical by Helena Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Head over to Austenprose for my review of Helena Kelly's examination of some of the radical subjects that Jane Austen explored in her novels. Like what? Oh, slavery, poverty, feminism, the Church, evolution. Just a few of the topics subjected to the Austen treatment, while her heroines search for eligible husbands. Women have always been multitaskers.

It’s impossible for anyone to write thousands upon thousands of words and reveal nothing of how she thinks or what she believes. And, contrary to popular opinion, Jane did reveal her beliefs, not just about domestic life and relationships, but about the wider political and social issues of the day. (10% Kindle)

Nowhere in her surviving letters is Jane openly critical of her father or of her brothers. But in both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice she permits herself to write about the carelessness, and thoughtlessness, of men who do nothing to provide for their female dependents, and to touch on female financial anxiety and the psychological pressures of being beholden to more fortunate relations. (24% Kindle)

There’s no reason at all for the reviewer of Emma to start writing about “fanaticism” or religion. The final paragraph of the review has nothing to do with Emma, but the talk of “fanatical novels” and “fanatical authoresses” applies very much better to Jane’s previous book. The reviewer seems to want Jane to know that he has understood—and heartily disapproved of—what she was doing in Mansfield Park. (64% Kindle)

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