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Jane Austen, the Secret Radical

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She shows us that despite those who “stubbornly insist that despite using the word enclosure, Jane doesn’t really mean it”, at least two of Austen’s novels ( Mansfield Park and Emma) were engaged with the effects of the Enclosure Acts and their attendant dangers of poverty and misery. Other Austen fans might feel differently as this is certainly very well written and contains much that is of interest - but eventually I just lost the will to finish it I'm afraid. Of the many such far fetchings, the following can be cited — from “Mansfield Park” — when Fanny is sent back to her family in Portsmouth to mend her ways. Fortunately, Kelly does not try to undermine the characters of Darcy and Elizabeth, but rather draws attention to the underlying prejudices of the novel which are far more revolutionary than a modern audience appreciates. Another question that I had never asked was why, after the death of Jane’s father, it took her rich brother Edward Knight four years to offer his mother and sisters a permanent home.

A sublime piece of literary detective work that shows us once and for all how to be precisely the sort of reader that Austen deserves.

The Northanger Abbey chapter was insightful about the use of the Gothic within that text, if I ever get around to actually reading the Mysteries of Udolpho, I intend to read both NA and the chapter here again. I loved this one too much to speak intelligently about it, though I loved the bit about the hazelnut. In reality, Austen completely tears society apart with all its ridiculous nuances and expectations of propriety.

There's really no need to panic if it turns out that Austen might have been a conservative and a snob and a product of her social environment and class.Mansfield Park is about "The Chain and the Cross," referring to Fanny's amber cross from her brother and the chain gifted her by her cousin Edmund. For instance, "The word 'sadist' hasn't been coined when Jane was writing, but that's undoubtedly what Mr. But many or most of her readers also need to be alive to the fact that she’s more than that, and Kelly’s book—even when you might disagree with it or laugh at the overreaches—will help you get there. And she has a tendency to get overly enthusiastic and take her arguments beyond a reasonable point (especially when they are tainted with Freudian nonsense).

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