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Jane Austen and Her Country-House Comedy

W. H. Helm

Book Overview: 

Written for the centenary of Jane Austen's death, W. H. Helm reflects poetically on the timelessness of her work: the must of age has not settled on her books. The lavender may lie between their pages, but it is still sweet. Helm briefly surveys Jane Austen's influences, literary contemporaries and themes. He is particularly interested in her ideas and characters, and his short book is fully of pithy quotes encapsulating "the best of Jane Austen"

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Book Excerpt: 
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Literary influences—Jane Austen's defence of novelists—The old essayists—Her favourite authors—Some novels of her time—Criticism of her niece's novel—Sense of her own limitations—Her method—Humour—Familiar names—Some characteristics of style—Suggested emendations—A new "problem" of authorship—A "forbidding" writer—"Commonplace" and "superficial"—Thomas Love Peacock—Sapient suggestions.

"I believe there is no constraint to be put upon real genius; nothing but inclination can set it to work," was one of the many sensible, if unoriginal, observations of the monarch in whose reign Jane Austen was born and died. But the inclination itself is usually started by external suggestions, and it is a mere truism that most books are written because others have appeared before them. Macaulay declared that. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Dated critiques are somewhat funny but only somewhat.