Jane Austen Archive

The Weird Nineteenth Century

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The reputation of the nineteenth century novel tends to precede its reading. By this I mean: few readers come to first contact with the likes of JANE EYRE, MIDDLEMARCH, or TESS without some established prejudice for or against the genre, usually in the milieu of a middle or high

Some Call it Dick Lit

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Some call it Dick Lit, others call it Lad Lit, but many male authors reject both of these genre categories as being reductionist, inaccurate, and for unfairly lumping disparate novels into a single arbitrary category. How can gender be a genre, they ask.

Whit Stillman and Jane Austen: Together Again for the First Time

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Everybody from P.D. James to your best friend's sister seems to be writing Jane Austen fan fiction but the only fanfic I'm really excited about right now is Whit Stillman's reimagining of Lady Susan, an early epistolary novella.

When Women Writers Become Nightmares

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When we go to inspect female-presenting writers, the canon is too familiar: Emily Dickinson, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen. There’s no purpose in arguing this. What’s more interesting is uncovering forgotten women writers—women who wrote poetry with T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound in life, or produced movies with Alfred Hitchcock.

Ways of Beginning

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New Year’s Eve has always struck me as sort of a strained holiday. The newness it represents feels invisible to me, no matter the countdowns and music and noisemakers piled on it—a threshold in the air, a line that’s there because we say it is. I’m always so aware

“Changes of Scale by which We Measure Ourselves Anew”: the Appeal of Tiny Objects and Compact Forms

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I’m drawn to tiny things. In the Matchstick Marvels museum in Gladbrook, IA, I was captivated by a model of Hogwarts, an elaborate many-towered and turreted castle made of more than 600,000 matchsticks. At Dinky’s Diner in Reeds Spring, MO, my family used to stop for miniature hot dogs,

Round-Down: A Year of Publishing Only Women

In a surprising move, And Other Stories, an independent publisher in the United Kingdom, decided last week to take up novelist Kamila Shamsie’s call for publishers to take a stand against gender bias by publishing only women in 2018. Publisher Stefan Tobler said that he and his colleagues had realized

Round-Down: Enough of Genre Debate Already

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I’m a little disappointed in Jennifer Weiner. And not in the way you’d think. Certainly not in the same way as Jonathan Franzen. Rather, I’m disappointed that she’s seemingly buying into the genre vs. literary distinction while she (admirably and very hilariously) defends herself on Twitter against Franzen’s latest attacks.

The Things I Haven’t Read

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Legend had it that a famous scholar of nineteenth century American literature visited my college to lecture, and someone asked him a question about Melville. He began his answer with “While I’ve never read Moby-Dick…” At this remove, I still question the man’s scholarship and sanity—but I do admire his

Scare Quotes and Regency Dresses: Literary Costumes for Halloween

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Halloween is one of the few holidays where you can take your introverted reading habit and turn it into a public spectacle. So, get those brows up in the air, squeeze in that monocle, and start puffing on your bubble pipe: here are some literary costume ideas. FROM MIRIAM