What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan

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Synopsis

Which important Austen characters never speak? Is there any sex in Austen? What do the characters call one another, and why? What are the right and wrong ways to propose marriage? In What Matters in Jane Austen?, John Mullan shows that we can best appreciate Austen's brilliance by looking at the intriguing quirks and intricacies of her fiction. Asking and answering some very specific questions about what goes on in her novels, he reveals the inner workings of their greatness.?


?In twenty short chapters, each of which explores a question prompted by Austens novels, Mullan illuminates the themes that matter most in her beloved fiction. Readers will discover when Austen's characters had their meals and what shops they went to; how vicars got good livings; and how wealth was inherited. What Matters in Jane Austen? illuminates the rituals and conventions of her fictional world in order to reveal her technical virtuosity and daring as a novelist. It uses telling passages from Austen's letters and details from her own life to explain episodes in her novels: readers will find out, for example, what novels she read, how much money she had to live on, and what she saw at the theater.?
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Written with flair and based on a lifetime's study, What Matters in Jane Austen? will allow readers to appreciate Jane Austen's work in greater depth than ever before.
 

About John Mullan

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John Mullan is a professor in the English department at University College London and the author of How Novels Work. He writes a popular column on fiction for the Guardian, and has served as a judge for the Man Booker Prize. Mullan lectures widely on Jane Austen around the world.
 
Published January 29, 2013 by Bloomsbury Press. 353 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for What Matters in Jane Austen?

Kirkus Reviews

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We learn about games characters play (Austen herself liked cards) in a chapter Mullan slyly follows with one about sex (yes, there is some in Austen;

Sep 30 2012 | Read Full Review of What Matters in Jane Austen?

The Guardian

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Two gossipy studies make Tessa Hadley return to the originals with fresh pleasure

Jun 15 2012 | Read Full Review of What Matters in Jane Austen?

Publishers Weekly

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Virginia Woolf once remarked that of all great writers Jane Austen was “the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness.” If only she’d had Mullan’s delightful, though repetitive, book at hand, perhaps Woolf would have discovered the reasons that Austen remains among the greatest, yet...

Oct 01 2012 | Read Full Review of What Matters in Jane Austen?

The Independent

which makes clear that she basically invented the modern novel in her use of narrative that follows and mimics a character's thoughts – which accounts for the amazing modernity of her novels, while many other books of the period seem ponderous today.

Feb 10 2013 | Read Full Review of What Matters in Jane Austen?

The Telegraph

He appears to have everything she wrote at his fingertips, and zips around with great energy, although the absence of plot summaries or character snapshots makes this a book primarily for readers who have a good working knowledge of her novels.

Jun 07 2012 | Read Full Review of What Matters in Jane Austen?

We Love This Book

With numerous editions of her works and film adaptations many of us think we know her stories, but in What Matters in Jane Austen John Mullan offers fresh lines of enquiry into the minutiae of her novels that will have all Austen fans scrambling for their copies of Pride and Prejudice, Emma et al.

Jul 06 2012 | Read Full Review of What Matters in Jane Austen?

Scotsman.com

The chapters on servants, on looks and on Austen’s novelty are all splendid, and I’ll never be able to not notice the weather in the novels again – Mullan has convinced me that it’s everywhere, and highly significant.

Jul 14 2012 | Read Full Review of What Matters in Jane Austen?

Literary Review

But in a book that rightly stresses, as Mullan's does, Austen's fidelity to minutiae, it doesn't inspire confidence that Johnson then misquotes what Austen says about her 'little bit ...

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