Scott and Jane Austen: Varieties of Conservative Ideology

  • J. A. Bull


The previous chapter considered how the socio-cultural approach might throw light on the birth of the novel and its relationship to the economy and social structure of the time. This chapter switches the focus to developments in production, distribution and readership of fiction which laid the foundations for the establishment of the novel as the dominant literary genre of the nineteenth century. The concentration is partly on the literary context in terms of publishing methods and economics, but also on a specific illustration in the form of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley. Scott’s outstanding literary success and influence cannot be ignored in terms of the status and development of fiction as a whole. His work reveals the operation of an ideology whose influence survives to some degree today. A second example of the relationship between social class position and fiction can be seen in the novels of Scott’s contemporary, Jane Austen, whose work seems so radically different in form and content.


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  1. 1.
    Richard L. Stein, ‘Historical fiction and the implied reader: Scott and Iser’, Novel (Spring 1981) (pp. 213–231). This article examines — but rejects — the application of Iser’s theory to Scott’s novels.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Elaine Jordan, ‘The management of Scott’s novels’ in the 1985 volume of The Proceedings of the Essex Conference on the Sociology of Literature (University of Essex, 1985) pp. 146–61.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Chapter II of Graham McMaster, Scott and Society (Cambridge University Press, 1982).Google Scholar

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© J. A. Bull 1988

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  • J. A. Bull

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