I'm sorry I read this book by Helena Kelly. Her historical theories are sometimes illuminating; however, her theories of character and motivation seldom ring true to me.
For example, in chapter 3 ("Sense & Sensibility") Helena Kelly' tries to prove the character "Edward Ferrars" is dark and potentially violent. Why can't Edward remain a reserved and quietly noble character or even weak? I don't believe Jane Austen's words present Edward as negatively as this critic. Jane Austen's own character descriptions, her own words, are enough for me and my imagination because they ring true. I feel like this critic has maligned an old friend.
Critics present new theories which we can choose to think about or reject, and I suppose every critic needs to present different ideas to be relevant. I urge anyone reading "Jane Austen, the Secret Radical" to be confident in your own experience of Jane Austen and feel free to accept or reject any ideas presented by this critic, Helena Kelly.
Surprisingly, Kelly's analysis ends with this advice: "Forget the Jane Austen you think you know. Forget the biographies; forget the petty adaptations. Ignore the banknote. Read Jane's novels. They're here to speak for her: love stories, yes, though not always happy ones, but also the productions of an extraordinary mind, in an extraordinary age. Read them again."
I'm only a Jane Austen fan not a scholar and I would change her ending: (1) "Forget this book - Jane Austen, the Secret Radical." and (2) enjoy reading her biographies and learning about Jane Austen's interesting life.
I just had to buy this book so I can have it at my side when I next reread Jane Austen's books.
Kelly sees a lot more social and political history in Jane Austen’s six works of fiction than most critical analysis. It’s interesting even if I can’t quite agree with some of her notions.
Her takes on 'Sense & Sensibility,' 'Pride & Prejudice' and 'Persuasion' had the most resonance to me. But, she savages Mr. Knightley in 'Emma' as an uncaring landlord, see lots of repressed sexuality in 'Northanger Abbey,' and draws way too many analogies to the slave trade in 'Mansfield Park.' Yikes.
thought provoking and some points could be disturbing
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