Through three intertwined histories Jane Austen's Textual Lives offers a new way of approaching and reading a very familiar author. One is a history of the transmission and transformation of Jane Austen through manuscripts, critical editions, biographies, and adaptations; a second provides a conspectus of the development of English Studies as a discipline in which the original and primary place of textual criticism is recovered; and a third reviews the role of Oxford University Press in shaping a canon of English texts in the twentieth century. Jane Austen can be discovered in all three. Since her rise to celebrity status at the end of the nineteenth century, Jane Austen has occupied a position within English-speaking culture that is both
popular and canonical, accessible and complexly inaccessible, fixed and certain yet wonderfully amenable to shifts of sensibility and cultural assumptions. The implied contradiction was represented in the early twentieth century by, on the one hand, the Austen family's continued management, censorship, and sentimental marketing of the sweet lady novelist of the Hampshire countryside; and on the other, by R. W. Chapman's 1923 Clarendon Press edition of the Novels of Jane Austen, which subjected her texts to the kind of scholarly probing reserved till then for classical Greek and Roman authors obscured by centuries of attrition. It was to be almost fifty years before the Clarendon Press considered it necessary to recalibrate the reputation of another popular English novelist in this way.
Beginning with specific encounters with three kinds of textual work and the problems, clues, or challenges to interpretation they continue to present, Kathryn Sutherland goes on to consider the absence of a satisfactory critical theory of biography that can help us address the partial life, and ends with a discussion of the screen adaptations through which the texts continue to live on. Throughout, Jane Austen's textual identities provide a means to explore the wider issue of what text is and to argue the importance of understanding textual space as itself a powerful agent established only by recourse to further interpretations and fictions.
Readership: Students, teachers, and critics of Jane Austen and
English Literature; also those in the field of textual studies and those interested in the cultural impact of literature, in print and non-print media, and the history of academic publishing.
Kathryn Sutherland, Professor of Bibliography and Textual Criticism, University of Oxford
"...exceeds expectations in its scope and depth of (textual and historical) detail, in its painstaking archival recovery, and in the command and refinement of its critical analysis ...is an invaluable contribution to Austen studies" - Ankhi Mukherjee, Notes and Queries
One: 'The Making of England's Jane'
i: 'Everybody's dear Jane'
ii: Janeites in the trenches
iii: R. W. Chapman restores civilization
iv: Territorial acts
Two: Personal Obscurity and the Biographer's Baggage
i: Ground rules?
ii: Cassandra's legacies, or the family management of Jane Austen's life
iii: Two texts
iv: Secrets and lies, or managing the family
v: Coda: portraits
Three: Manuscripts and the Acts of Writing
i: Dead ends and false starts
ii: iThe Watsons/i: Jane Austen's other Bath novel
iii: iPersuasion/i: from manuscript to print
Four: Textual Identities: 1
i: 'Print settles it'
ii: Professional writer: Jane Austen's other identity
iii: 'The Steventon Edition'
iv: Continuations: Anna Lefroy's iSanditon/i and Catherine Hubback's iThe Younger Sister/i
Five: Speaking Commas
i: 'A total inattention to stops, and a very frequent ignorance of grammar'
ii: 'To an editor nothing is a trifle by which his author is obscured'
iii: 'For this book is the talking voice that runs on'
Six: Textual Identities: 2
i: 'The grammar of literary investigation': or, a brief history of textual criticism in the twentieth century
ii: Film as textual future