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Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

Marilyn Butler

Published in print January 1988 | ISBN: 9780198129684
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191671838 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198129684.001.0001
Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

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Interest in Jane Austen has never been greater, but it is revitalised by the advent of feminist literary history. In a substantial new introduction the author places this book, which was first published in 1975, within the larger tradition of post-war criticism, from the generation of Edmund Wilson, Lionel Trilling, and F. R. Leavis to that of the now-dominant feminist critics. The book argues that Austen herself lived in contentious times. Like Wordsworth and Coleridge, she served her literary apprenticeship in the 1790s, the decade of the Terror and the Napoleonic Wars, an era in England of polemic and hysteria. Political partisanship shaped the novel of her youth, in content, form, and style. The book now examines the very different schools of writing about Austen, and finds in them some unexpected continuities, such as a willingness to recruit her to modern aims, but a reluctance to engage with her own history. When the book first came out, it attracted attention for its fresh, controversial approach to ideas on Austen. The new edition shows how the arrival of feminism has made the task of the literary historian more vital and challenging than ever.

Keywords: Jane Austen; feminist literary history; post-war criticism; feminist critics; Wordsworth; Coleridge; political partisanship; the Terror; Napoleonic Wars; polemic

Book.  350 pages. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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Table of Contents

Introduction to 1975 Edition in Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

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Sentimentalism: the Radical Inheritance in Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

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The Jacobin Novel I: Revolution and Reason in Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

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The Anti-Jacobins in Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

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Maria Edgeworth in Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

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Seeing a Meaning in Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

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The Juvenilia and Northanger Abbey in Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

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Sense and Sensibility in Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

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Pride and Prejudice in Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

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