Jane Austen, the Secret Radical by Helena Kelly

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...perhaps this would have been the place for some letter extracts. But these are minor complaints in an otherwise deeply welcome book.
-Guardian

Synopsis


A brilliant, illuminating reassessment of the life and work of Jane Austen that makes clear how Austen has been misread for the past two centuries and that shows us how she intended her books to be read, revealing, as well, how subversive and daring--how truly radical--a writer she was.

In this fascinating, revelatory work, Helena Kelly--dazzling Jane Austen authority--looks past the grand houses, the pretty young women, past the demure drawing room dramas and witty commentary on the narrow social worlds of her time that became the hallmark of Austen's work to bring to light the serious, ambitious, deeply subversive nature of this beloved writer. Kelly illuminates the radical subjects--slavery, poverty, feminism, the Church, evolution, among them--considered treasonous at the time, that Austen deftly explored in the six novels that have come to embody an age. The author reveals just how in the novels we find the real Jane Austen: a clever, clear-sighted woman "of information," fully aware of what was going on in the world and sure about what she thought of it. We see a writer who understood that the novel--until then seen as mindless "trash"--could be a great art form and who, perhaps more than any other writer up to that time, imbued it with its particular greatness.
 

About Helena Kelly

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HELENA KELLY grew up in North Kent. She is a professor of classics and English Literature at the University of Oxford. She lives in Oxford with her husband and son.
Author Residence: Oxford, UK
 
Published May 2, 2017 by Knopf. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Jane Austen, the Secret Radical
All: 3 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 2

Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by Claire Hopley on May 18 2017

Though “Jane Austen: The Secret Radical” rests firmly on scholarship, Helena Kelly’s writing is closer to the real language of common people than to the abstruse cliche of academic texts. She makes her case convincingly, though occasionally it helter-skelters from the breezy heights...

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by John Mullan on Nov 16 2016

While Kelly is making her claims about the subtexts that have evaded previous critics, Austen admirers will keep noticing little mistakes about what is going on in the novels.

Read Full Review of Jane Austen, the Secret Radical | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Caroline Criado-Perez on Oct 30 2016

...perhaps this would have been the place for some letter extracts. But these are minor complaints in an otherwise deeply welcome book.

Read Full Review of Jane Austen, the Secret Radical | See more reviews from Guardian

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