Margaret Drabble still lost in Austen

Member Bill has drawn our attention to an article by Margaret Drabble that was originally published in the New Statesman and then later in the Australian Financial Review. You have to pay to read it online at the Fin, but not so at the New Statesman! Fascinating eh?

But, more fascinating of course is the article itself. As Bill said, it is ostensibly a review of the recently published A truth universally acknowledged: 33 reasons why we can’t stop reading Jane Austen (edited by Susannah Carson), “but reads more like the chapter Drabble would have contributed to that collection on JA had she been asked”. And, having read the article, I wonder why, given her long interest in and writing on Austen (she wrote, for example, an introduction to a 1989 Virago edition of Pride and prejudice), she was not asked to contribute to the volume.

Anyhow, it’s an entertaining read. It includes reflections on some of the lesser characters such as Kitty and Mary Bennett, and Susan Price, alongside the occasional comment on which of the contributors to A truth universally acknowledged she does or doesn’t agree with. She says that:

Some of my revisionist readings of minor characters have been prompted and fortified by 30 years of feminist criticism, which Carson’s volume fails to put in clear perspective.

This is not her main point, but it does provide a clue as to where her main niggles and concerns might lie! Read the article for yourself. Her ideas are provocative, perceptive  and thoroughly engaging. She gets why we keep reading Austen.


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