By Claudia L. Johnson, Clara Tuite
Reflecting the dynamic and expansive nature of Austen reviews, A significant other to Jane Austen offers forty two essays from a unique workforce of literary students that research the entire breadth of the English novelist's works and occupation.
- Provides the main finished and up to date array of Austen scholarship
- Functions either as a scholarly reference and as a survey of the main cutting edge speculative advancements within the box of Austen reports
- Engages at size with altering contexts and cultures of reception from the 19th to the twenty-first centuries
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Extra info for A Companion to Jane Austen
His own “writing” might accurately be described as cosmetic. Or perhaps his peculiar relationship with Debrett’s – the “book of books” (p. 7), as his daughter Elizabeth has been bullied into thinking of it – bears more resemblance to the traditional attitude in which the subject is said to stand in relation to the portraitist; Sir Walter’s own painstaking brand of artistry resembles the miniature interference of a narrowly focused dilettante. And if a portrait is perceived to be inaccurate or unflattering, he seems to feel, one should have no qualms about touching it up.
Caroline inherited pocket books, in which over several years her mother Mary, James Austen’s second wife, kept a brief diary of events as they occurred. Mary was witness to two of the most important events in the slim record we have of Jane Austen’s life. The first was her evident distress on being told (some time in early December 1800) that her parents were to leave Steventon and live in Bath; the second was her death, Mary having traveled to Winchester to help nurse her. Mary Austen is also a source (though not this time an eye-witness) for the circumstances surrounding Austen’s acceptance and subsequent refusal of Harris Bigg-Wither’s marriage proposal, which can be dated precisely to December 2–3, 1802.
She may have fainted (lost consciousness) on being told she must leave Steventon; she did not marry; she died. What the submerged female biographical tradition suggests is that there were always other Jane Austens to be recovered; other, that is, than those described in the official account. For example, we know from Fanny Caroline’s account that she disliked her sister-in-law Mary Austen, for her peevish ill-temper and neglect of her step-daughter. Under Mary’s influence James too had become petty and self-regarding (Letters: 121); but the public record continues to overestimate his puny literary talent and its likely influence on his sister’s work (Knox-Shaw 2004: 24–46).
A Companion to Jane Austen by Claudia L. Johnson, Clara Tuite