Jane Austen's Names

Jane Austen's Names : Riddles, Persons, Places

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In Jane Austen's works, a name is never just a name. In fact, the names Austen gives her characters and places are as rich in subtle meaning as her prose itself. Wiltshire, for example, the home county of Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey, is a clue that this heroine is not as stupid as she seems: according to legend, cunning Wiltshire residents caught hiding contraband in a pond capitalized on a reputation for ignorance by claiming they were digging up a "big cheese" - the moon's reflection on the water's surface. It worked. In Jane Austen's Names, Margaret Doody offers a fascinating and comprehensive study of all the names of people and places - real and imaginary - in Austen's fiction. Austen's creative choice of names reveals not only her virtuosic talent for riddles and puns. Her names also pick up deep stories from English history, especially the various civil wars, and the blood-tinged differences that played out in the reign of Henry VIII, a period to which she often returns. Considering the major novels alongside unfinished works and juvenilia, Doody shows how Austen's names signal class tensions as well as regional, ethnic, and religious differences.
We gain a new understanding of Austen's technique of creative anachronism, which plays with and against her skillfully deployed realism - in her books, the conflicts of the past swirl into the tensions of the present, transporting readers beyond the Regency. Full of insight and surprises for even the most devoted Janeite, Jane Austen's Names will revolutionize how we read Austen's fiction.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 440 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 38.1mm | 816.47g
  • University of Chicago Press
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • English
  • 0226157830
  • 9780226157832
  • 576,180

Table of contents

List of Figures Acknowledgments A Note on Texts Part I. England Chapter 1. Words, Names, Persons, and Places Chapter 2. Names as History: Invasion, Migration, War, and Conflict Chapter 3. Civil War, Ruins, and the Conscience of the Rich Part II. Names Chapter 4. Naming People: First Names, Nicknames, Titles, and Rank Chapter 5. Titles, Status, and Surnames: Austen's Great Surname Matrix Chapter 6. Personal Names (First Names and Surnames) in the "Steventon" Novels Chapter 7. Personal Names in the "Chawton" Novels Part III. Places Chapter 8. Humans Making and Naming a Landscape Chapter 9. Placing the Places Chapter 10. Counties, Towns, Villages, Estates: Real and Imaginary Places in the "Steventon" Novels Chapter 11. Real and Imaginary Places in the "Chawton" Novels Conclusion Notes Index
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Review quote

"A brilliant, provocative, and important book. Doody has marshaled a truly unprecedented array of narrative material regarding names, places, and plotting culled from a dazzlingly expansive reading of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century novels-as well as books on aesthetics, local history, and the English countryside. The result is a uniquely illuminating and enjoyable book that teaches us to think about Austen's artistry in a undamentally new way." (Claudia L. Johnson, uthor of Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures)
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About Margaret Anne Doody

Margaret Doody is the John and Barbara Glynn Family Professor of Literature at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of many books, including the Aristotle Detective series, the first three of which are available in paperback from the University of Chicago Press.
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Rating details

28 ratings
3.78 out of 5 stars
5 14% (4)
4 50% (14)
3 36% (10)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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