Jane Austen  

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Isabella: Dear creature! how much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished The Mysteries of Udolpho, we will read The Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.


Catherine: ...but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?

Isabella: Yes, quite sure, for a particular friend of mine, a Miss Andrews, a sweet girl, one of the sweetest creatures in the world, has read every one of them.

--Northanger Abbey (1817) by Jane Austen

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Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security. Her works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century literary realism. Her use of biting irony, along with her realism, humour, and social commentary, have long earned her acclaim among critics, scholars, and popular audiences alike.

With the publication of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two other novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began another, eventually titled Sanditon, but died before its completion. She also left behind three volumes of juvenile writings in manuscript, the short epistolary novel Lady Susan, and another unfinished novel, The Watsons. Her six full-length novels have rarely been out of print, although they were published anonymously and brought her moderate success and little fame during her lifetime.

A significant transition in her posthumous reputation occurred in 1833, when her novels were republished in Richard Bentley's Standard Novels series, illustrated by Ferdinand Pickering, and sold as a set. They gradually gained wider acclaim and popular readership. In 1869, fifty-two years after her death, her nephew's publication of A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced a compelling version of her writing career and supposedly uneventful life to an eager audience.

Austen has inspired many critical essays and literary anthologies. Her novels have inspired many films, from 1940's Pride and Prejudice to more recent productions like Sense and Sensibility (1995), Emma (1996), Mansfield Park (1999), Pride & Prejudice (2005), Love & Friendship (2016), and Emma..

Jane Austen's (1775–1817) distinctive literary style relies on a combination of parody, burlesque, irony, free indirect speech and a degree of realism. She uses parody and burlesque for comic effect and to critique the portrayal of women in 18th-century sentimental and gothic novels. Austen extends her critique by highlighting social hypocrisy through irony; she often creates an ironic tone through free indirect speech in which the thoughts and words of the characters mix with the voice of the narrator. The degree to which critics believe Austen's characters have psychological depth informs their views regarding her realism. While some scholars argue that Austen falls into a tradition of realism because of her finely executed portrayal of individual characters and her emphasis on "the everyday", others contend that her characters lack a depth of feeling compared with earlier works, and that this, combined with Austen's polemical tone, places her outside the realist tradition.

Often characterized as "country house novels" or "comedies of manners", Austen's novels also include fairy tale elements. They have less narrative or scenic description and much more dialogue than other early 19th-century novels. Austen shapes a distinctive and subtly constructed voice for each character.

Her plots are fundamentally about education; her heroines come to see themselves and their conduct more clearly, and become better, more moral people. While Austen steers clear of the formal moralizing common in early-19th-century literature, morality—characterized by manners, duty to society and religious seriousness—is a central theme of her works. Throughout her novels, serious reading is associated with intellectual and moral development. The extent to which the novels reflect feminist themes has been extensively debated by scholars; most critics agree that the novels highlight how some female characters take charge of their own worlds, while others are confined, physically and spiritually. Almost all Austen's works explore the precarious economic situation in which women of the late-18th and early-19th centuries found themselves.

Austen's novels have variously been described as politically conservative and progressive. For example, one strand of criticism claims that her heroines support the existing social structure through their dedication to duty and sacrifice of their personal desires. Another argues that Austen is sceptical of the paternalistic ruling "other", evidenced by her ironic tone. Within her exploration of the political issues surrounding the gentry, Austen addresses issues relating to money and property, particularly the arbitrary quality of property inheritance and the precarious economic position of women. Throughout her work there is a tension between the claims of society and the claims of the individual. Austen is often considered one of the originators of the modern, interiorized novel character.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Jane Austen" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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