Introduction: The Persistence of Jane Austen’s Romance

  • Ashley Tauchert
Part of the Language, Discourse, Society book series (LDS)


If the English eighteenth century is understood as a period of social and material reform on an unprecedented scale, characterised by discourses of individual ‘rights’ and ‘egalitarianism’, of ‘rationality’ and ‘liberty’, wrought through struggles between traditionally oppressive social structures and emergent forms of individual consciousness, then Jane Austen seems a rather arbitrary literary expression of English enlightenment. To receive her six famous novels from this perspective, we would expect to find tropes that herald the great political, social, material, philosophical and economic changes taking place in her lifetime, and the lifetime of her narratives; echoes or displaced imprints of the calls for — or resistances to — freedom from accrued tradition, and increased demand for liberty of thought. One of the most overwhelming facts about these six novels, however, remains their overt indifference at the level of content in the great social, economic, political or material events forming their immediate context. This has always been an interesting absence, given the author’s credentials as an intelligent and literate woman. The absence becomes more visible when we remember the naval brothers who had seen action against the French, chased real pirates, carried bullion for the East India Company, and just missed the Battle of Trafalgar; or the cousin married to a French aristocrat guillotined in 1794.24


East India Company Happy Ending Feminist Epistemology Free Indirect Discourse Narrative Work 
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Copyright information

© Ashley Tauchert 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashley Tauchert
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ExeterUK

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