Jane Austen’s Contribution to the Development of the Novel
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Jane Austen had read the novelists we now think of as the classical writers who came before herself: Defoe, Richardson and Fielding; and she knew the work of her contemporary Fanny Burney very well. It is quite easy to draw comparisons between, for example, Richardson’s use of the novel in letters form and Jane Austen’s use of the same in her unpublished works. We can also easily draw a line of development between Richardson’s collections of letters in Clarissa and Pamela, and the development of internal narrative to analyse and introspect about experience, found in Jane Austen’s more sophisticated technique, where the author’s seamless movement from one point of view to another enables events to be ‘viewed’ and related by a character, and their thoughts given in their own recognisable diction.
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- 1.Fielding, Henry, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling, Collins Classics, London 1955, pp. 34–5. Further references to this edition are to Tom Jones, followed by the page number.Google Scholar
- 2.Quoted in Gilbert, S. and Gubar, S., The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, Yale 1979.Google Scholar