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Jane Austen

Writing, Society, Politics

Tom Keymer



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Oxford University Press
06 August 2020
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. So runs one of the most famous opening lines in English literature. Setting the scene in Pride and Prejudice, it deftly introduces the novel's core themes of marriage, money, and social convention, themes that continue to resonate with readers over 200 years later.

Jane Austen wrote six of the best-loved novels in the English language, as well as a smaller corpus of unpublished works. Her books pioneered new techniques for representing voices, minds, and hearts in narrative prose, and, despite some accusations of a blinkered domestic and romantic focus, they represent the world of their characters with unsparing clarity. Here, Tom Keymer explores the major themes throughout Austen's novels, setting them in the literary, social, and political backgrounds from which they emerge, and showing how they engage with social tensions in an era dominated by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The Jane Austen who emerges is a writer shaped by the literary experiments and socio-political debates of her time, increasingly drawn to a fundamentally conservative vision of social harmony, yet forever complicating this vision through her disruptive ironies and satirical energy.
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 176mm,  Width: 130mm,  Spine: 17mm
Weight:   290g
ISBN:   9780198861904
ISBN 10:   0198861907
Pages:   192
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Tom Keymer is Chancellor Henry N. R. Jackman University Professor of English at the University of Toronto. He has published numerous books about Restoration, eighteenth-century, and Romantic-period literature and culture, including Poetics of the Pillory: English Literature and Seditious Libel 1660-1820 (OUP, 2019), Sterne, the Moderns, and the Novel (OUP, 2002), and, as editor, The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Volume 1: Prose Fiction in English from the Origins of Print to 1750 (OUP, 2017). He has also edited works by Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Samuel Johnson, and others in the Oxford World's Classics series. He is General Editor of the Review of English Studies and co-General Editor of The Cambridge Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Samuel Richardson.

Reviews for Jane Austen: Writing, Society, Politics

A light, sure-footed guide [...] Keymer has insightful things to say about all Austen's fiction, from the pitilessness of the hilarious early sketches to the intensity and passion of Persuasion. It is great fun to follow him as he nails Austen's effects in delightful phrases. * Jane Spencer, The Review of English Studies * Janeites of all stripes should take note of this critically robust account. * Everett Jones, Publishers Weekly * Highly recommended. * Emily Bowles, Library Journal * Tom Keymer reminds us, in timely fashion, of the delights and the unexpected rewards in reading Jane Austen with close attention. He presents a writer whose output is unified and varied, who offers us puzzles and problems and who prefers exploration to polemic and eloquent silences to explanations. She questions all she sees: the novel, society, and politics. Nothing escapes her teasing, critical gaze. This is an assured and witty introduction to a subtle and complex genius and a welcome invitation to look and think again. * Kathryn Sutherland, editor of Jane Austen: Teenage Writings * To illuminate literary greatness in a short book is a tall order. Tom Keymer's Jane Austen: Writing, Society, and Politics delivers precisely that, with admirable clarity and characteristic brilliance, in a captivating style that's worthy of the author herself. * Devoney Looser, author of The Making of Jane Austen * Keymer's introduction to Jane Austen is a delight to read, and every chapter offers something I hadn't known or considered before ... One might even claim that, though deep, its clear; though informed, yet not dull; strong but not kneejerk; without o're-flowing, full. * Cynthia Wall, University of Virginia *

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