July 2007 • ISBN 978-0874139662 • $97.00
To praise Jane Austen’s novels only as stylistic masterpieces is to strip them of the contexts and intertexts that would otherwise illuminate them. By focusing primarily on the political, historical, satiric, actively intertextual, and deeply sexualized text Persuasion, Jocelyn Harris seeks to reconcile the apparent insignificance of her content with her high canonical status. This book calls on new discoveries to answer assertions that Austen is “limited.” Like Turner, she portrays Lyme as sublime and open to change, but like her satirical contemporaries, she attacks beautiful Bath as a city shadowed by mortality and corruption. Persuasion sketches a society founded on merit, sexual equality, and distributive justice, its turn from woe to joy echoing the nation’s grief and jubilee after Waterloo. This accessible and often original book, which concludes that Austen is outward-looking, intertextually aware, self-conscious, even revolutionary, will appeal to all readers, critics, and teachers of Jane Austen.
About the Author
Jocelyn Harris is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Otago, New Zealand.