Another Jane Austen Biography
Posted by P. Bingham on December 02, 1997 at 14:18:52:
I am reading a new (1997) Jane Austen Biography that I find extremely entertaining because it tells it's story with a unique approach; it is written like a novel. "Jane Austen, a Life" by David Nokes.
It is fascinating, uninterrupted reading that gives us a side of Jane that her family never would, especially her brother Henry who became an evangelical preacher and so most of his opinions of Jane were actually based on his feelings on the matter and not hers!
For instance, with regards to Jane's reading choices, Henry wrote that Jane "recoiled from anything gross" but we know that she devoured shocking gothics, not to mention Fielding's Tom Jones (one of her early favorites which her brother, Henry, specifically noted (Fielding anyway) that Jane ranked very low.
This book gives us a Jane with numerous faults and an enthusiasm for anything mischievious (spelling!).
The book begins before Jane is born and describes a novel-like accounting of Jane's family through the perceptions of these people. Everything is true, of course, as it is a biography, but the reading is never interrupted by anything but those little referenced numbers that lead you to the back of the book for sources. The book is filled with everything one could expect to find of the age in which Jane lived.
Jane Austen, a life by David Nokes
(there are at least two titles of Jane Austen, A Life.)
Published in Britain in 1997 by Fourth Estate, Great Britain.
Published in U.S. in 1997 by farrar, Straus & Giroux. $35
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