Jane Austen and the Theatre

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Overview

Jane Austen was fascinated by theatre from her childhood. As an adult she went to the theatre whenever opportunity arose. Scenes in her novels often resemble plays, and recent film and television versions have shown how naturally dramatic her stories are. Yet the myth remains that she was 'anti-theatrical', and readers continue to puzzle about the real significance of the theatricals in Mansfield Park. Penny Gay's book describes for the first time the rich theatrical context of Austen's writing, and the ...
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Overview

Jane Austen was fascinated by theatre from her childhood. As an adult she went to the theatre whenever opportunity arose. Scenes in her novels often resemble plays, and recent film and television versions have shown how naturally dramatic her stories are. Yet the myth remains that she was 'anti-theatrical', and readers continue to puzzle about the real significance of the theatricals in Mansfield Park. Penny Gay's book describes for the first time the rich theatrical context of Austen's writing, and the intersections between her novels and contemporary drama. Gay proposes a 'dialogue' in Austen's mature novels with the various genres of eighteenth-century drama: laughing comedy, sentimental comedy and tragedy, Gothic theatre, early melodrama. She re-reads the novels in the light of this dialogue to demonstrate Austen's analysis of the pervasive theatricality of the society in which her heroines must perform.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Gay makes a compelling argument that Austen was consistent in finding theater 'a curiously fascinating and thought-provoking experience.' The study is careful, well-documented, articulate, knowledgeable, deftly written and good-humored—and will surely be a delight to both confirmed Janites and serious scholars.... Highly recommended for academic libraries at all levels and for public libraries wishing to strengthen Austen-oriented holdings." Choice

"One of the most notable insights of this elegant book is Gay's revelation that it is dramatic technique, with its emphasis of embodiment, that enables Austen to explore some of the most powerfully affective concerns she holds dear..." The Wordsworth Circle

"...Jane Austen and the Theatre promises to be of significant value both to theater historians and Janeites alike." Comparative Drama

"...long overdue.... the scope of Gay's knowledge and the specificity of her examples effectively counter assertions that Austen disapproved of the theatre." JASNA News

"Penny Gay has written a delightful and informative book, and ne that will be a welcome addition to the library of Jane Austen fans as well as anyone interested in the English theatre during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries." Canadian Woman Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521652131
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Pages: 214
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Penny Gay is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Sydney, where she also teaches performance studies. Her 1994 book As She Likes It: Shakespeare's Unruly Women was the first feminist study of the performances of Shakespeare's comic heroines, and she has since published separate studies of The Merchant of Venice and As You Like It.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Prologue
A note on in-text references
1 Jane Austen's experience of theatre 1
2 Sense and Sensibility: comic and tragic drama 26
3 Northanger Abbey: Catherine's adventures in the Gothic theatre 52
4 Pride and Prejudice: the comedienne as heroine 73
5 Mansfield Park: Fanny's education in the theatre 98
6 Emma: private theatricals in Highbury 123
7 Persuasion and melodrama 147
Epilogue 166
Notes 168
Bibliography 193
Index 199
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    Insightful & Interesting

    This is a well-written exploration of theater during the lifetime of Jane Austen, and provides invaluable background information for a deeper understanding and appreciation of each of her six completed novels.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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