Jane Austen Short Fiction Analysis
With unsurpassed charm and subtlety, Jane Austen’s novels of country life present and appraise the manners, morals, and relationships of Regency England’s prosperous middle class. In choosing to depict what she called her “bits of ivory,” the segment of the world she knew best, Jane Austen steered the course of the English novel away from the melodramatic implausibilities that dominated popular fiction at the turn of the nineteenth century. Sir Walter Scott, who recognized the importance of Austen’s choice, also praised her for the literary finesse that made such a choice workable, “the exquisite touch which renders commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of the description and the sentiment.”
Although the subject of Jane Austen’s novels was contemporary life, it was contemporary literature with its various excesses and deficiencies which inspired her earliest attempts at fiction. In the short pieces collected as her juvenilia—tales, miniature novels, and epistolary narratives—Austen applies the conventions of sentimental fiction, which she and her family read avidly but critically, with rigorous consistency and pushes them to their logical extremes to demonstrate that such standards produce slipshod literature and convey a false view of the world.
Austen’s juvenile fiction differs from the novels in its audience as well as in its subject matter. The young author wrote these short pieces for the...
(The entire section is 1379 words.)
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