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Jane Austen's Families

June Sturrock

Jane Austen's Families

“Jane Austen’s Families” provides insight into family dynamics in Jane Austen’s six novels, focusing particularly on interaction between parents and children.

Imprint: Anthem Press
ISBN 9781783083268
November 2014 | 160 Pages | 229 x 152mm / 9 x 6
PRICE:  £25.00  /  $40.00  Buy from Amazon.co.uk  Buy from Amazon.com

About This Book

‘Sturrock […] has researched, written, and published extensively in the field of 19th-century women’s writing, a fact that is very apparent from the well-researched and knowledgeable tone of this book. […] The author focuses primarily on the role of parents in influencing how children act, think, and feel, both in how they regard one another and in how they deal with society as a whole. She also discusses sibling relationships in great depth. […] Sturrock is clearly conversant with the scholarship in the field of family relationships in Austen and in other novels of the time period. She includes detailed notes and an exhaustive bibliography; despite some dense prose, Sturrock’s style is still engaging and easy to follow. Summing Up: Recommended.’ —R. Stone, ‘Choice’

‘Sturrock reads the novels through the lens of ethical criticism, and explores how the heroines differ from their parents in terms of morality. […] Sturrock’s contribution lies in her exploration of the various intrafamilial relations: those between sisters, between mothers and daughters, and between fathers and daughters. […] Exhaustively researched and well written, “Jane Austen’s Families” is a pleasure to read.’ —‘Forum for Modern Language Studies’

“June Sturrock examines Jane Austen’s fiction with clarity and with her own ‘creative attention,’ revealing the ways families and family relationships become a mode of character development, an index to thematic issues, and a structuring principle as Austen develops ‘an ethics of ordinary life.’ A most enjoyable and illuminating study!” —Susan Allen Ford, Editor, “Persuasions” and “Persuasions On-Line”

 “Jane Austen’s Families” discusses the fictional families – such as the Bennets and the Bertrams – whose dynamics are crucial both to Austen’s plots and to her explorations of ethical complexities. The study focuses upon the central characters’ interactions with their own families and (to a lesser extent) with other family groups in an exploration of how emotional and moral development is both hindered and fostered by these interactions. Significantly, Austen chooses not to write about the orphaned heroines so often preferred by novelists of the period; rather, for a writer who cares intensely for what is natural and probable in fiction, the most common early experience of surviving the pains and pleasures of family life provides the richest material for her work.

This study is historically grounded, reading Austen in the context of contemporary writing and visual culture in an exploration of her treatment of the relations between parent and child.  It examines Austen’s heroines as their parents’ daughters, responding to and resisting their upbringing, and shows how family interactions shape their courtships.  Inevitably this concern involves a consideration both of the ethics of parenthood and of the ethics these heroines acquire from their parents, through adaptation, imitation and resistance to what they are taught, directly and indirectly. Interactions between parent and child affect both the daughter’s experience and her active moral life.

Readership: Though directed towards an academic audience of Austen scholars and able undergraduates, the style of “Jane Austen’s Families” will make it accessible to all Austen enthusiasts.

Author Information

June Sturrock is professor emeritus of English at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; References and Abbreviations; General Introduction; PART I: FAMILY DYNAMICS: Introduction; Chapter One: The Functions of the Dysfunctional Family: “Northanger Abbey,” “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice”; Chapter Two: Spoilt Children: “Pride and Prejudice,” “Mansfield Park” and “Emma”; Chapter Three: “Usefulness and Exertion”: Mothers and Sisters in “Sense and Sensibility,” “Mansfield Park,” “Emma” and “Persuasion”; PART II: FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS: Introduction; Chapter Four: Money, Morals and “Mansfield Park”; Chapter Five: Speech and Silence in “Emma”; Chapter Six: Dandies and Beauties: The Issue of Good Looks in “Persuasion”; Conclusion: “Creative Attention”; Notes; Select Bibliography; Index