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Jane Austen and her Readers, 1786–1945

Katie Halsey

Jane Austen and her Readers, 1786–1945

An innovative look at the reading of Jane Austen and the responses of ordinary readers to her works.

Imprint: Anthem Press
ISBN 9780857283528
April 2012 | 298 Pages | 229 x 152mm / 9 x 6
PRICE:  £60.00  /  $99.00  Buy from Amazon.co.uk  Buy from Amazon.com

About This Book

‘[Katie Halsey] presents an excellent, useful book about ways to define the “reading” and “readers” of Jane Austen [and] makes Austen novels part of the last two hundred years of material culture, a fascinating project. Summing Up: Highly recommended.’ —R. Shapiro, City University of New York, ‘Choice’

‘Beautifully written and drawing on a wealth of new manuscript and print resources, Katie Halsey places Austen’s nuanced comedy at the heart of fierce disputes about the art of the novel and the moral life of the reader in the period 1786–1945. This study is an elegant, authoritative and compelling account of Austen’s role in the history of the book.’ —Dr Jane Stabler, University of St Andrews

‘This is a sophisticated exploration of the relationships between Jane Austen’s texts and their readers from 1786 (when the first responses to her writing are recorded) to 1945 (when new media start to replace print culture). This volume is part of the current interest in Austen’s reception initiated in the 1990s by Claudia L. Johnson and developed more recently by Rachel Brownstein, among others. What Halsey adds to the discussion is an original analysis of the complex experience of reading Austen: from the material side of reading (including analyses of different editions, book costs and illustrations) to little-known responses to Austen’s fiction by celebrated and ordinary readers (found in diaries, journals and private correspondence)… An important contribution to Austen and readership studies.’ —‘Forum of Modern Languages’ 48, no. 4 (October 2012)

‘Jane Austen and her Readers, 1786–1945’ is a study of readers’ interactions with the works of one of England’s most enduringly popular novelists. Employing an innovative approach made possible by new research in the field of the history of reading, the volume discusses Austen’s own ideas about books and readers, the uses she makes of her reading, and the relationship of her style to her readers’ responses. It considers the role of editions and criticism in directing readers’ responses, and presents and analyses a variety of source material related to readers who read Austen’s works between 1786 and 1945.

Previous studies of Austen’s influence on her readers and literary successors have either presupposed a hypothetical reader, or focused on the texts of the critical tradition, ignoring the views, reactions and thoughts of the common reader. This volume discusses the responses of ordinary readers to Austen’s novels, responses that offer insights into both Jane Austen’s particular appeal, and the nature of the act of reading itself.

Readership: The book will be useful to students and researchers in book history, Austen studies, and cultural historians.

Author Information

Katie Halsey is a lecturer in eighteenth-century literature at the University of Stirling, Scotland.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; PART ONE; Introduction; 1. Jane Austen’s Reading in Context; 2. Jane Austen’s Negotiations with Reading; 3. Jane Austen’s Games of Ingenuity; PART TWO; Introduction; 4. Austen’s Readers: Contexts I; 5. Austen’s Readers: Contexts II; 6. Austen’s Readers I: Affection and Appropriation; 7. Austen’s Readers II: Opposition and Resistance; 8. Austen’s Readers III: Friendship and Criticism; 9. Austen’s Readers IV: Sociability and Devotion; Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography; Index

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