Jane Austen's Novels: The Art of Clarity

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9780300059267: Jane Austen's Novels: The Art of Clarity
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Although Jane Austen has long been England's best-loved novelist, much current criticism tends to ignore the appeal and accessibility of her novels and instead treats them as mere material—the preserve of academics, feminists, historical specialists, and would-be radical theorists. This book by Roger Gard is at once a thoughtful and detailed discussion of Jane Austen's oeuvre and a provocative and witty commentary that will stimulate all readers. Gard offers lively and perceptive discussions of the six major novels, together with the early Lady Susan and the unfinished Sanditon. The precise nature and scope of Jane Austen's realism, her particularly English approach to the world, and the characteristic blend in her work of a sharp skepticism about human nature and its banality with an idealism about human virtue are themes that recur throughout Gard's study. The book is moreover notable for the original and striking links it makes between Jane Austen and other authors ranging from Shakespeare to Flaubert, Lawrence, George Eliot, and Barbara Pym. Gard has something new to say in every chapter, and he says it with authority and style.

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This book by Roger Gard is at once a thoughtful and detailed discussion of Jane Austen's oeuvre and a provocative and witty commentary that will stimulate all readers.

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Gard (reader in English at Queen Mary and Westfield Coll., Univ. of London) has authored and edited several studies on Jane Austen and Henry James, including Jane Austen, Emma and Persuasion (Viking, 1989) and Henry James: The Critical Heritage ( LJ 11/1/68). The present study is a reaction against the approach generally taken in contemporary literary criticism. Espousing the more personal reader response criticism, Gard argues that readers of Austen need not be specialists in Georgian England or in Austen's literary predecessors. Writing of Northanger Abbey --for which Mrs. Radcliffe's novels are usually considered prerequisites--he states, "This general truth is particularly important to Northanger Abbey because one of its exemplary features is its simple accessibility." Gard has a strong sense of Austen's voice and diction and, in fact, plays with these in his chapter on Pride and Prejudice , which he writes as a dialog. Highly recommended to both Janeites and Austen scholars.
-Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, Ore.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780300054941: Jane Austen's Novels: The Art of Clarity

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ISBN 10:  0300054947 ISBN 13:  9780300054941
Publisher: Yale University Press, 1992
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