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Why are we so fascinated with Jane Austen’s novels? Why is Austen so universally beloved? The essayists in this volume offer their thoughts on the delightful puzzle of Austen’s popularity. Classic and contemporary writers—novelists, essayists, journalists, scholars, and a filmmaker—discuss the tricks and treasures of Austen’s novels, from her witty dialogue, to the arc and sweep of her story lines, to her prescriptions for life and love.
Virginia Woolf examines Austen’s maturation as an artist and speculates on how her writing would have changed had she lived another twenty years, while Anna Quindlen examines the enduring issues of social pressure and gender politics that make Pride and Prejudice as vital today as ever. From Harold Bloom to Martin Amis, Somerset Maugham to Jay McInerney, Eudora Welty to Amy Bloom, each writer reflects on Austen’s place in both the literary canon and our cultural imagination.