reviews for JANE AUSTEN and the ARTS

January 24, 2017 at 11:11 am (books, entertainment, jane austen, jasna) (, , , )

Natasha Duquette, as one of the editors (along with Elisabeth Lenckos) of Jane Austen and the Arts: Elegance, Propriety and Harmony, has recent uploaded some reviews of the book. One, by Audrey Bilger in the journal Women’s Studies, mentions my contribution, the chapter entitled, “‘A Reputation for Accomplishment’: Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse as Artistic Performers”.

ja and the arts

“Kelly M. McDonald examines Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse in terms of their skill as artistic performers and sees the primary lessons that each heroine needs to learn as being linked to their initial stance as artists: Marianne, who is ‘consumed with interior passions,’ must cultivate restraint; Emma ‘[c]onsumed with exterior experiences’ must develop deeper insight.”

This is a chapter that I have not revisited in the recent past, yet, given my 2016 topic for the JASNA Annual General Meeting that celebrated the 200th anniversary of the novel EMMA, the ‘art’ of Emma is definitely an ongoing preoccupation of mine. (My paper was entitled, “Sketching Box Hill with Emma”, also given to the Vermont JASNA chapter in December 2016.) I found, in revisiting the paper AFTER transcribing more Smith & Gosling family letters in October and November, that I had a few new points to make on the subject.

But to get back to Audrey Bilger’s review of Jane Austen and the Arts

Being an academic press (Lehigh University Press), Jane Austen and the Arts is currently selling for $30 (used; paperback) and up on Amazon. Bilger’s comments on the book as a whole, include:

  • “The editors perceive the arts in the broadest possible way, … encompassing painting, music, dance, and theater, … also judgment, taste, morality and ultimately reading and writing as aesthetically charged activities.”
  • “An excellent preface by Vivasvan Soni, ‘Jane Austen’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment,’ explains the meaning of the book’s subtitle.”
  • “most of the contributions are theoretically nuanced, especially with regard to the history of aesthetics.”
  • “the book’s focus on the arts illuminates aspects of Austen’s work in fresh ways…. Readers familiar with the Austen canon will appreciate the book’s numerous close readings and textual analysis.”

Another review Natasha posted is by Marina Cano, for The Modern Language Review. Cano recognizes the volume as “a highly interdisciplinary and polyphonic study”. Cano is especially enthusiastic about Jeffrey Nigro’s “The Sister Artist: Cassandra Austen’s Portraits of Jane Austen in Art-Historical Context”: “he argues, here Cassandra was experimenting with the artistic conventions of her time”.

Cano concludes, “Jane Austen and the Arts is a valuable collection in its exploration of Austen’s involvement in the aesthetic concerns of her time and in its examination of little-studied materials.”

Looking today at I see Jane Austen and the Arts listed as being in 204 libraries worldwide; maybe one of these is nearby, allowing you, too, to dip your toe. Would love to hear from readers on any and all aspects of the book (ie, you don’t even have to comment on my chapter!).


  1. Kirk said,

    I just tried to post a comment but I received a message that the comment couldn’t be posted….here’s my Goodreads review…currently the only one posted…

    “There are 14 essays in this collection, most of which I found readable and enjoyable. Especially enjoyable were the four essays in Part One: The Fine Arts in Austen’s World: Music, Dance, and Portraiture. The favorite of the group being Kelly M. McDonald’s “A Reputation for Accomplishment”:Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse as Artistic Performers”.
    In Part Two, Alice Davenport’s “An Adaptable Aesthetic: Eighteenth-Century Landscape, Ann Radcliffe, and Jane Austen, was most enjoyable and illuminating.

    Under the category of saving the best for last, the last essay in Part Three (“Delicacy of Taste”Redeemed: The Aesthetic Judgment and Spiritual Formation of Austen’s Clergymen-Heroes by Frederick and Natasha Duquette) in this highly interesting book is one of the most delightful things I have read. Why? It agrees with some of my opinions(and how rare is that those whose knowledge is immeasurably superior to mine agree with me) of a certain smirking non-hero. “Henry Tilney is an eloquent man…..YET REVEALING A STRIKING MORAL BLINDNESS”(caps all mine). Natasha and Frederick Duquette continue “…note Henry’s soothingly lyrical tone in his assurance that Frederick and Isabella…yet HE QUICKLY FALTERS INTO LOW IMAGERY AND FARCE AS HE DISMISSES THE RISK OF THEIR FLINTING”(again, all caps is all mine….). Oh, there’s so much more but I’ll stop here. No more will I listen to the few Tilneyites, who I respect on other matters, that I give him a fifth or sixth chance(rant sorta over). Shirley’s pithy comment that “Henry Tilney is a Regency “Metrosexual” dovetails well with this essay. To be fair, I believe authors think the “non-hero” in question will improve his narcissistic(my word not theirs) etc. behavior. Needless to say, yet I’ll say it, I don’t”

    • Kirk said,

      The part I didn’t repost above…I requested the book from my three library affiliations(two networks and a stand alone). One ordered it and has it available. Another one went back a real nasty “no”. Grrr.

      • Janeite Kelly said,

        Hi, Kirk – I think I READ your review on Goodreads! So thanks for including it on my site (and thanks too for your comments).

        Do you mean this website wouldn’t allow you to post a comment? It should, though NEW posters will have their comments wait until approved. Once approved, all comments automatically pop up onto the site.

        How frustrating that lenders – at least that one – wasn’t lending! Or, now that I re-read that section: were you asking them to purchase the book? In this age of tight budgets _I_ would hate to be a librarian having to decide where to spend my library’s funds.

        I’ve certainly had a few comments, local to me, about that price – for when it was first out and in hardcover only I think the cover price was about $80. The paperback makes the acquisition (maybe, though, not for libraries) a bit better.

        A copy of the book was our payment! So what costs the consumer is never anything the writers had control over.


  2. Kirk said,

    Hi!! Yes, the website didn’t allow me to post the first try. It didn’t offer “wait until approved”. Naturally, I didn’t copy before attempting posting the comment! The 2nd try it went straight thru and posted. Go figure!

    In all three requests, I was requesting them to purchase….but I expected “no” or no reply from them. I had seen the cost, but such a great topic :), I figured it was worth the try. All library sites I’ve seen say “we’ll try but….”.
    The tone of the “no” was in the style and worthy of Caroline Bingley!! And it’s not a “poor” library…with a fairly good Austen collection too.

    Alas, it was the “stand alone” (i.e. private) library that purchased it. Which, soon, I won’t have access to….so going to reread my favorite chapters and quote from them soon! :)


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