“Johnson’s long-anticipated book on the history of Austen fandom turns out, not surprisingly, to have been amply worth the wait. With characteristic intelligence, judiciousness, and lucidity, Johnson teases out the ideas that have informed our evolving construction of this most popular and yet most elusive of literary figures. Johnson sinks her roots very deeply into the source material, showing how Austen became an icon for all seasons, giving us back the image we have required of her in war and peace, modernity and postmodernity, the British Empire and the Empire of Hollywood. Following in the tradition of studies of Shakespearean canonization, this is the real Becoming Jane.”
William Deresiewicz, author of A Jane Austen Education
Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures
Claudia L. Johnson
|Publication Date: June 01, 2012 ||$35.00 • £22.50 |
|UK Publication Date: June 11, 2012 ||978-0-226-40203-1 (Cloth) |
Spoiled teenagers in Beverly Hills, a neurotic but peppy British woman, zombie hunters in Regency England, and sea monsters—these are just a few of the recent manifestations of Jane Austen mania. She may have completed only six novels, but her lasting appeal to both popular and elite audiences has lifted her to legendary status. But how did Jane Austen become “Jane Austen,” a figure intensely—sometimes even wildly—venerated for a host of different reasons?
Claudia L. Johnson answers this question in Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures, an insightful exploration of how the very concept of Austen encapsulates powerful ideas and feelings about history, class, manners, intimacy, and language for her fans. Johnson begins by considering how monuments and portraits of Austen point to an author who is invisible and yet whose image is inseparable from the characters and fictional worlds she created. She then passes through the four critical phases of Austen’s reception—the Victorian era, the First and Second World Wars, and the establishment of the Austen House and Museum in 1949—and ponders what the adoration of Austen has meant to readers over the past two centuries. By respecting the intelligence of past commentary about Austen, Johnson shows, we are able to revisit her work and unearth fresh insights and new critical possibilities.
Claudia L. Johnson is the Murray Professor of English Literature at Princeton University. She is the author or editor of several books, including Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel and Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender, and Sentimentality in the 1790s, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
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