Jane Austen and the Enlightenment

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Jane Austen and the Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Peter Knox-Shaw argues against polarised critical views of Jane Austen as either an Anti-Jacobin or a radical feminist and re-locates her in the tolerant, sceptical tradition of Enlightenment philosophical and scientific debate.

The study traces Austen's familiarity with a wide range of well-known Enlightenment thinkers as well as the more obscure scientists whose work was discussed in James Austen's periodical, The Loiterer.

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Each of Austen's mature novels receives detailed coverage in the light of research into the libertarian picturesque, non-partisan historiography, benevolence, dissenting Christianity, critiques of autocracy and Enlightenment feminism with its Most users should sign in with their email address.

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Jane Austen: Biography of a Great Thinker

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Jane Austen and The Enlightenment

Forum of Modern Language Studies Vol. In an e-mail from the farm he writes: "My aim in writing the book was twofold.

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I wanted to demonstrate how responsive Jane Austen was to the deep social changes that took place during her lifetime, changes that now lie at the foundation of the modern world and I wanted to reassert her presence as a liberal and progressive figure in it. His first task was to demolish late twentieth-century academic theory that Austen was "a reactionary Evangelical bent on reversing the French Revolution and all its works".

Work on Jane's surviving letters, on the family archives, and on other neglected materials such as the then unpublished poetry of her brother, James, and on the periodical he ran as a student, enabled me to bring new definition to the cultural resources on which Jane Austen drew.

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Work of this kind only realises its significance, however, in conjunction with close reading of the text. It was particularly challenging to follow the way Jane Austen's outlook underwent modulation as she entered the Romantic period. But the hidden has a special value in historical research.

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In , for example, the Austen family published an essay on St Helena, written by Jane's brother, Francis, which includes a passage on slavery. Strong meat even in the early days of the nineteenth century, this protest was later not easy to bear, and so lost to biographers and critics, all of whom stuck to the print. It stands at some remove from the popular conception of the term, in which reason, mechanism and control figure broadly, and is still much subject to misinterpretation.