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Austen, Jane. (1775 - 1817).

W o r k

- concern: getting married = the central preoccupation for young leisure-class ladies with no other career than domesticity open to them

- characters: provincial English gentlefolk = a society defined in terms of land, money, and class

- form: intricate, spare, and ironic novel of manners = examines and criticises the values men and women live by in their everyday social lives

- untouched by the political, intellectual, and artistic revolutions of her age; conservative against the current radical enthusiasm

- realistic background: tests her female protagonists for the practical sense, moral integrity, and knowledge of the world and oneself

- obliges the reader to participate in the moral processes of disciplined learning and judging

- advocates the merits of good conduct, good manners, sound reason, and marriage as an admirable social institution

- never scorns love x but: demands the complementary qualities of self-knowledge, self-discipline, and practicality

=> all her protagonists are finally brought to mature judgement and, by proper extension, emotional fulfilment

Sense and Sensibility (1811):

- her first published novel

- balances maturity against impulsiveness

- gently ridicules the cult of sensibility, sentiment, and passion

Pride and Prejudice (1813):

- a classic in the genre of a Romantic novel of manners

Mansfield Park (1814):

- the most pragmatic and the least romantic of her novels

- touches on the slave trade, corruption, and exploitation

Emma (1816):

- the most perfectly construed, the best, and the most representative

- the rebellious Emma finds her personal liberation within the enclosure of the society by learning to respect and use its rules

Northanger Abbey (1818, posthumously):

- chronologically her earliest novel x but: published posthumously

- ridicules the taste for Gothic terrors and unsophisticated romances

- includes an elaborate parody on Anne Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho

Persuasion (1818, posthumously):

- connected with the Northanger Abbey, usually issued in one volume


(Picture: Wikimedia Commons).

  • Author

    Jane Austen. (1775 - 1817). British.
  • Work

    Novelist. Author of Pride and Prejudice (1813).
  • Genre

    Romanticism. Novel of manners.


Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.

Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.

Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.

Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.

Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.


"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

The opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice (1813).


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