Jane Austen and the Popular Novel: The Determined Author by A. Mandal

By A. Mandal

Feedback has frequently fastened Austen's oeuvre in the ideological locus of the 1790s, ignoring the extra topical attributes that her novels show. Such debts have for this reason missed the advanced engagements that happened among Austen's fiction and early nineteenth-century fiction. expert via a macrocosmic feel of the Romantic-era novel marketplace and a microcosmic research of intertexual dynamics, Jane Austen and the preferred Novel offers a clean and substitute standpoint at the mature fiction of Jane Austen.

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Example text

The influence of the moral–domestic novel cannot be underestimated, and should be understood as part of a broader movement within Britain, which attempted to remodel the country into a ‘serious’ nation of middle-rank propriety and zeal. Domestic and Continental events were perceived as indications of the need for a wholesale shift in the cultural ethos of the times, away from decadence and towards rectitude; as Briggs notes: The wars against France reinforced the movements for the reformation of manners and the enforcement of a stricter morality; in many ways, indeed, they widened the ‘moral gap’ between Britain and the Continent as much as they widened the economic gap.

Among the remaining novelists who published five works or more, the careers of most reiterate the ‘mix-and-match’ approach to popular authorship during the 1810s. A large number of their works were sentimental melodramas, varying in setting from the romantic past (Beauclerc), to the fashionable present (Davenport, Ross), as well as the more topical (Parker). Other novelists more obviously attempt to bolt the waning Gothic mode onto a domestic setting, as in Davenport’s An Angel’s Form and a Devil’s Heart (1818).

On an earlier occasion, Austen described her father’s surreptitious reading while stopping off at the ‘Bull and George’ inn during a journey from Sittingbourne to London: ‘My father is now reading the “Midnight Bell”, which he has got from the library, and mother sitting by the fire’ (JAL, 15; 24 October 1798).

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