In Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity, Janine Barchas makes the bold assertion that Jane Austen’s novels allude to actual high-profile politicians and contemporary celebrities as well as to famous historical figures and landed estates. Barchas is the first scholar to conduct extensive research into the names and locations in Austen’s fiction by taking full advantage of the explosion of archival materials now available online.
According to Barchas, Austen plays confidently with the tension between truth and invention that characterizes the realist novel. Of course, the argument that Austen deployed famous names presupposes an active celebrity culture during the Regency, a phenomenon recently accepted by scholars. The names Austen plucks from history for her protagonists (Dashwood, Wentworth, Woodhouse, Tilney, Fitzwilliam, and many more) were immensely famous in her day. She seems to bank upon this familiarity for interpretive effect, often upending associations with comic intent.
Barchas re-situates Austen’s work closer to the historical novels of her contemporary Sir Walter Scott and away from the domestic and biographical perspectives that until recently have dominated Austen studies. This forward-thinking and revealing investigation offers scholars and ardent fans of Jane Austen a wealth of historical facts, while shedding an interpretive light on a new aspect of the beloved writer's work.
|Publisher:||Johns Hopkins University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Janine Barchas is a professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin. She is the author of Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel and the creator of the What Jane Saw website: www.whatjanesaw.org.
Table of Contents
Introduction: "History, real solemn history" in Austen
1. "Quite unconnected": The Wentworths and Lady Susan
2. Mapping Northanger Abbey to Find "Old Allen" of Prior Park
3. Touring Farleigh Hungerford Castle and Remembering Mis Tilney-Long
4. "The Celebrated Mr. Evelyn" of Silva in Burney and Austen
5. Hell-Fire Jane: Dashwood Celebrity and Sense and Sensibility
6. Persuasion's Battle of the Books: Baronetage versus Navy List
Afterword: Jane Austen's Fictive Network
What People are Saying About This
"Renovating the historicist pedantry of readers like Vladimir Nabokov, who plotted geographical locales and estimated room dimensions in the margins of his teaching copy of Mansfield Park, Janine Barchas remaps the coordinates of Austen’s fictive world as nodal points in a network of real names of glamorous places and peopleWentworth, Wodehouse, D’Arcy, and Fitzwilliam among them. Matters of Fact in Jane Austen is too modest a title for this prescient book, in which facts matter as markers of Austen’s creative method, authorizing the vividness of her charismatically alluring characters and plots."
"In a lively and formidably informed study, Janine Barchas buries the lingering myth of Jane Austen as 'a cloistered rectory daughter,' and convincingly reconstructs her as 'a local and national historian'and moreover a confirmed name-dropper who subtly manipulates the celebrity culture of her day."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a fascinating and readable thesis. In all my years of Jane Austen studies, reading literary criticism and analyses, and biographies, I had wondered, like many people, did Jane Austen use real people and incidents for her wonderful stories? The generally accepted theory has been no, and family accounts seemed to reinforce this, however, all authors have ideas and they get those ideas from real life. Why not Jane Austen? In Debrett’s The Peerage as well as The Navy List, Barchas discovers many names used in Austen’s works during the time period of publication: Wentworth, Vernon, Tilney, Woodhouse, Fitzwilliam, Croft, Ferrars, Eliot, D’Arcy, and Dalrymple to name a few. She hopes that, with this book just beginning to touch on the subject—indeed, she explores Persuasion names in great depth—that it will launch future scholarship and study in Austen’s works. Highly recommended for the Jane Austen aficionado.