Essays include a biography of Jane Austen, the critical reception of Pride and Prejudice, an examination of the novel's historical milieu, and a reading of the novel that stresses the importance Austen places on female education as a means of redefining the role of women in society, and several essays written from a feminist perspective.
The essays in this Critical Insights volume are intended to help the novice or the non-specialist in Austen studies get some sense of the complexities that have made Pride and Prejudice an enduring classic, and suggest avenues for further study.
Included are six original essays written specifically to provide background about Austen and a sampling of critical perspectives.
In "About Pride and Prejudice" the editor, Laurence W. Mazzeno, explains how and why Austen's novel has generated so many different and often contradictory readings.
One essay traces the critical history of the novel, demonstrating how prevailing critical practices (and predilections) have influenced perceptions about the novel's merits. Included is a brief biography of Jane Austen highlighting Austen's lifelong commitment to the craft of writing.
In other essays, the novel is placed in its historical milieu, demonstrating how keenly aware Austen was of the disruptive social forces swirling around her, as well as a reading of the novel that stresses the importance Austen places on female education as a means of redefining the role of women in society.
Supplementing these original contributions are twelve essays reprinted from scholarly books and journals; these have been selected as samples of various approaches one might take in investigating Austen's themes or explaining her artistry. Collectively they reflect both traditional critical approaches and ones more closely aligned with the new theoretical methods of inquiry that have emerged in academic circles during the second half of the twentieth century.
Each essay is 2,500-5,000 words in length and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes.
- Chronology of Jane Austen's Life
- Works by Jane Austen
- About the Editor