What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Professor Kathryn Sutherland is keen to see Jane Austen praised, not as the queen of romance novels, but rather “as a pioneer — the inventor of the modern novel, the first English novelist to explore the effect of contemporary war on the home front, and a businesswoman prepared to stake all on fame and fortune.”
“Austen’s novels broke new ground in subject matter and style. She saw that everyday events in ordinary places could be the stuff of fiction. But she saw far more. One of her greatest contributions to literature was a way of writing, centred on the heroine, that recognises the longing in each one of us to grow, to change, to become other. Her heroines have inner lives, represented on the page as a kind of conversation with the self.”
Those who say that Jane is just a romance novelist couldn’t be more wrong. It’s easy to forget, this many years down the line, and with so many new genres and novel formats on the shelves, how revolutionary Jane’s novels were; how unique they were in style. Happily Professor Sutherland is hoping to change that with….
To accompany the new exhibition which Professor Sutherland is curating in Oxford at Weston Library from June 22nd – October 29th (called Which Jane Austen?) she has released a new book.
Jane Austen: Writer in the World: Novelist in the World is a collection of essays which offer an intimate history of Austen’s art and life – told through objects associated with her personally and with the era in which she lived.
Further on in the book, the exploration of yet more objects – the Regency novel, newspaper articles, naval logbooks, and contemporary political cartoons – reveals Austen’s filiations with wider social and political worlds. These ‘things’ map the threads connecting her (from India to Bath and from North America to Chawton) to those on the international stage during the wars with France that raged through much of her short life.