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Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World (original 2009; edition 2009)
by Claire Harman
Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman (2009)
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Very interesting and detailed...96 out of 100 ...a couple of pages were dull and why can't they put a translation of French in books....we don't all know foreign languages ... ( )
Not for the faint of heart, this literary chronicle of Jane's ascent into the world verges on the point of being a heavy read. From Jane's earliest writing, the publication of four of her novels in her lifetime, to all of her books being out of print, to her popularity resurgence with the release of her biography, up to the twentieth century; this book covers her meteoric rise as one of the greatest female writers ever born. I'm not a true Janite, just a casual admirer so I didn't know a lot of what was in this book. I do know that she wasn't very popular in her lifetime (her books were all published anonymously) but I didn't know all the circumstances surrounding that. Claire does a good job bringing readers along through the decades as the cult of the "Divine Jane" grew and spread across the globe. Not a light read, but very enlightening!
Claire Harman's Jane's fame. How Jane Austen conquered the world isn't a biography about Jane Austen but reading it will help you a long way. Instead, it is a description of Jane Austen's road to fame. Readers who already know a lot about Jane Austen will not likely learn much new, and yet Jane's fame. How Jane Austen conquered the world is just the kind of book that Jane Austen fans would most like to read.
There is a lot of biographical detail about Jane Austen in the book but that is not the main focus. It could even be said that Jane Austen is not the main topic of the book, although her name appears on every page. Actually, the title says it all, very accurately. This is a non-fiction book that tells us how Jane Austen has become one of the most famous writers in the world, today.
Writing a book is no longer a way of achieving lasting fame. In fact, many novelists are forgotten, soon after they have published their last book, which is often a few years before their death, and most novelists are forgotten within two decades after their death. However, contemporary novelists are all aware of the fame they could achieve, and are generally careful about their manuscripts and correspondance. However, it hasn't always been like that.
The novel as a genre has only existed for about 300 years, and initially, most writers were men. When women started writing, they often published their novels under a pseudonym, hiding the fact of female authorship. Jane Austen wrote her novels well over 200 years ago. At that time there were professional writers, but few writers who could live of their pen, and writers earnings were based on selling stories to newspapers and publishers. It would still take a hundred years for proper laws and the protection of copyright to develop, and American publishers belonged to the fiercest rogue publishers.
To her family members, Jane Austen was their eccentric aunt, scribbling away and publishing a few novels in her lifetime. The family did not think highly of her writings and after Jane's death they threw most of her personal papers away, keeping only a few as memorabilia. They did not believe anyone would be interested in Jane Austen after she had passed away. Thus, a lot of material, especially letters were lost, and initially little was undertaken to record life details. The idea that any novelist, let alone Jane Austen could reach world renown was almost unthinkable at that time. However, the Nineteenth century saw a boom in the production of literary writing and is described as the age of the birth of the leisurely reader. Prior, reading was a pastime for the wealthy, but through serialized novels in newspapers, a much wider audience gained access to literature, and throughout the 19th century interest in Austen's books, her collected works and eventually her authorship increased.
Jane Austen had perhaps a most unfortunate start with a family so disdainful and so neglectful, but eventually, as biographical interest in her person grew, short biographies were recorded and compiled, and attempts were made to collect, and preserve her manuscripts. Harman's book describes all angles of the gradually developing, and increasingly intense interest in Jane Austen. The book traces the preservation of all remaining manuscripts and memorabilia, such as objects and furniture from the household of the Austens. It describes the publication history of all works of Jane Austen, and all biographies and related works written on Jane Austen. Finally, it admits to the Jane Austen mania, of which the book itself is a manifestation, as interest in Jane Austen and her work is now to great, that Jane Austen has fans all over the world.
Jane's fame. How Jane Austen conquered the world is very well written, but it's subject matter is still rather specialized and academic.
A very well-done look at the evolution of Jane Austen's reputation with readers and critics over time.
Nothing startlingly new here but interesting all the same. If you know a lot about Jane Austen, you probably won't learn a ton. I was happy to see that the author enjoyed "Miss Austen Regrets" as much as I did.
In Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World, Claire Harman casts a jaundiced eye upon Janeites since the books were first published—including Jane’s very first readers, her family—and is careful to make the reader understand that she is not one of Those Austen People. She is a Serious Scholar, thank you very much, and Jane Austen’s pearls deserve better than to be cast before the swine who have called ourselves her fans for the past two centuries.
'In this extraordinary book, crammed with scholarship and glittering with trivia, Claire Harman provides an account of every conceivable perception of Jane Austen during her short life and in the near-200 years since her death in 1817.'
'... a happy blend of critical insight and narrative bounce, making Jane's Fame a fine addition to the current trend for analysing posthumous lives.'
'Harman unpicks the cultural and sexual fantasies at the heart of Jane fandom with great skill, placing each of various editions, films and fanclubs in their historical context.'
To judge by the continued and even accelerated proliferation of Austen-related films, souvenirs, and books (of which both Harman’s and Carson’s volumes are manifestations), the surge of Austenmania that started in the 1990s is far from over. What new heights can Jane’s fame reach, now that she has already conquered the world?
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (2)
In Jane's Fame, Claire Harman gives us the complete biography--of both the author and her lasting cultural influence--making this essential reading for anyone interested in Austen's life, works, and remarkably potent fame.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)823.7Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Early 19th century 1800-37
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2 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.
Editions: 1847672949, 1847675336
An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.
An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.