Paula Byrne: ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and politics

The class of CC202 delves into Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Here the Core presents an article looks at that work from another perspective- politics. Here is an excerpt:

The Victorians fostered the idea of Austen as the retiring spinster who confined her novels to the small canvas of village life. In more recent times she has been reinvented as, among other things, a feminist writer, yet it has been difficult to shake off the myth of sequestered, cosy “Aunt Jane”, devoted to domestic and romantic issues and studiously ignoring her historical and political context.

In fact, Austen’s novels scrupulously avoid the clichés of romantic fiction… Nor is it true that the novels ignore their historical context. Austen was no stranger to turbulent times. Most of her adult life was lived through the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. She had two beloved brothers in the navy and one in the army. Her cousin’s husband was guillotined in the French Revolution. She took for granted that her readers would understand the context of her work. If we read Pride and Prejudice carefully, we can see that this is an essential element of the novel. The historical context is there for all to see but because we don’t share it we tend not to notice it.

The full article can be found here:

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