Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures

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University of Chicago Press, May 3, 2012 - Literary Criticism - 240 pages

Jane Austen completed only six novels, but enduring passion for the author and her works has driven fans to read these books repeatedly, in book clubs or solo, while also inspiring countless film adaptations, sequels, and even spoofs involving zombies and sea monsters. Austen’s lasting appeal to both popular and elite audiences has lifted her to legendary status. In Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures, Claudia L. Johnson shows how Jane Austen became “Jane Austen,” a figure intensely—sometimes even wildly—venerated, and often for markedly different reasons.

Johnson begins by exploring the most important monuments and portraits of Austen, considering how these artifacts point to an author who is invisible and yet whose image is inseparable from the characters and fictional worlds she created. She then passes through the four critical phases of Austen’s reception—the Victorian era, the First and Second World Wars, and the establishment of the Austen House and Museum in 1949—and ponders what the adoration of Austen has meant to readers over the past two centuries. For her fans, the very concept of “Jane Austen” encapsulates powerful ideas and feelings about history, class, manners, intimacy, language, and the everyday. By respecting the intelligence of past commentary about Austen, Johnson shows, we are able to revisit her work and unearth fresh insights and new critical possibilities. An insightful look at how and why readers have cherished one of our most beloved authors, Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures will be a valuable addition to the library of any fan of the divine Jane.
 

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I found this an extremely interesting book, which has subjects that even people who avoid professional criticism will enjoy. I am often among those, and I think about reading titles such as How to ... Read full review

Contents

Jane Austens Afterlives
1
1 Jane Austens Body
16
2 Jane Austens Magic
68
3 Jane Austens World War I
99
4 Jane Austens World War II
127
5 Jane Austens House
153
Jane Austens Ubiquity
180
Austen Family Folk Tales
187
Notes
193
Index
211
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Claudia L. Johnson is the Murray Professor of English Literature at Princeton University. She is the author or editor of several books, including Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel and Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender, and Sentimentality in the 1790s, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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