Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Why Jane Austen?” as Want to Read:
Why Jane Austen?
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Why Jane Austen?

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  71 ratings  ·  18 reviews
From the first publication of "Pride and Prejudice" to recent film versions of her life and work, Jane Austen has continued to provoke controversy and inspire fantasies of peculiar intimacy. Whether celebrated for her realism, proto-feminism, or patrician gentility, imagined as a subversive or a political conservative, Austen generates passions shaped by the ideologies and ...more
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published June 16th 2011 by Columbia University Press (first published April 5th 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Why Jane Austen?, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Why Jane Austen?

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel PoolA Truth Universally Acknowledged by Susannah CarsonTea with Jane Austen by Kim WilsonJane Austen's Letters by Jane AustenThe Real Jane Austen by Paula Byrne
Jane Austen and her world
37th out of 45 books — 17 voters
Pretty Little Liars by Sara ShepardGetting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen CookFake Boyfriend by Kate BrianAnatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria SnadowskyFlawless by Sara Shepard
Dolls / Barbies
59th out of 61 books — 11 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-29 of 437)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Kerri
Most frustrating to read in electronic form -- want access to footnotes/endnotes -- need hardcopy to mark-up and make notes.
Jessica Workman Holland (Tales Between the Pages)
Origianlly published at www.talesbetweenthepages.com

I tend to study early American women authors, but Jane Austen is a particular British favorite of mine. The problem with Austen is that the rest of the world is equally fascinated with her; there are SO many sequels, papers, and academic books written on her that the field of Austen studies should be saturated and in no need of further contributions. I expected Why Jane Austen? to be redundant and dull, but found that Brownstein actually accomp
...more
Kate Dana
I have to admit for all my love of Jane Austen I have never picked up a biography, except the ones in the front of her novels, which admittedly are brief. Yet, that doesn’t mean I don’t like the art of opposing viewpoints. It’s the one thing I miss about Graduate School----the critical analysis. When the opportunity to read and review Rachel M Brownstein’s Why Jane Austen?, I jumped at the chance.

This book fed my academic loving heart. Miss Brownstein takes a critical look at what draws us to Ja
...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
In Why Jane Austen?, Brownstein successfully walks the line between readability and scholarship. She clearly discusses topics with an academic's eye, but the writing is not dense, difficult to understand or boring. There is some possibility that this book will be more meaningful to those who already have a familiarity with Jane Austen's work, but it could also be useful for those who have steered clear of her work but want a working knowledge of her works and life.

My only criticism of Why Jane A
...more
Sunshine
I read this book over Christmas break in between semesters, and it was the most perfect timing because I felt like I was the student again instead of the professor!

It gave me a sense of nostalgia for graduate school: the precision of word choice, the clarity of solid, yet elegant sentence structure, and the perennial need for fresh insight. In particular, I drank up the portions where Brownstein wrote about her own messy teaching in attempting to make Emma, Fanny Price, or Austen herself relevan
...more
Lisa Guidarini
I know what you're thinking... Another book about Jane Austen?! There's already been so much scholarship, she has her own society, legions of fans, and everyone with even a passing affection or admiration for her has already published a book about this much-beloved literary icon. So who is this woman that feels there's still more to say?

She's Rachel M. Brownstein, an English professor at the Brooklyn College of CUNY, who's published two previous books: Becoming a Heroine: Reading About Women in
...more
Maggie
Mar 23, 2013 Maggie added it
P. 7 "The popular vogue of the 1990s changed the emphasis by narrowing the focus to that. It imagined all the protagonists of all the Austen novels as aiming to realize the undervalued female self by marrying up, marrying money, and marrying the best and sexiest guy, ..."

P. 67 "especially attractive to people at the margins of the dominant culture." "The serious promise her novels hold out, to my mind, is of a meritocracy--by suggesting persuasively that true distinction inheres first of all and
...more
Sarah
This book is something of a mix between a popular book and a scholarly monograph. There isn't a lot of critical theory or heavy terminology to throw off the layperson, and Brownstein discusses the popularity of Austen in the modern world and how she uses her in classes. To me, these parts were far more interesting than her analyses of the novels themselves, which I didn't find too convincing. I most enjoyed the section where she looks at biographical interest in Austen, partly talking about why ...more
Alisa
A mixed bag. Worth reading for Austen fans/Janeites for some valuable insights into the texts and adaptations. But I found it a slog due to three problems: scattershot organization; too much unrelated content (almost to the point of stream-of-consciousness); and sentence structure that tended towards the baroque.
Melissa
From the introduction: "Sometime in the 1908s, soon after the publication of my first book, I went to a literary party in Brooklyn at the home of a fashionably gritty playwright: jug wine, cheese and crackers, and brownies laced with cannabis, homemade by his wife."

If only all JA lit-crit books started this way.
Jan
There are no books like Jane Austen's. Brownstein's book is great because you learn what you have been missing in Austen's books. You can reread them and enjoy them again in new ways. Keep reading when you think Brownstein is getting boring. She is making an interesting point. Every time.
Krista
ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

While I did not doubt how thoroughly researched this book was, it felt so much like a homework assignment that I just did not enjoy this very much. It was ok, did not feel like I wasted my time reading this or anything, but not a favorite.


Susan
Absolutely fantastic book. Best book I have read about the history of Austen's literary reception. It is also an excellent road map for the scope of her criticism. Read this one in 3 days! As compelling as a good novel.
Joan
So far this is very interesting but I have read all of Austen's books many times. I love the scholarship aspect of this book. I am about 150 pages in.
Mary Kristine
Every time I begin a about Jane it compels me to re- read Jane. So again I am lost in Georgian England
Michelle
Actually didn't finish this book. A bit too dry and wasn't what I thought it was going to be.
Simple Pleasures
Review available on our blog.
Leah Madsen
Leah Madsen marked it as to-read
Mar 29, 2015
Charlotte Mccash
Charlotte Mccash marked it as to-read
Mar 28, 2015
Funny
Funny marked it as to-read
Mar 25, 2015
Boryana
Boryana marked it as to-read
Mar 15, 2015
Sally Mouzon
Sally Mouzon marked it as to-read
Mar 09, 2015
Annapoorni
Annapoorni marked it as to-read
Mar 02, 2015
Emine
Emine marked it as to-read
Feb 28, 2015
Bobbie G
Bobbie G marked it as to-read
Feb 21, 2015
Erin O'reilly
Erin O'reilly marked it as to-read
Feb 19, 2015
Lilly
Lilly marked it as to-read
Feb 19, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 14 15 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen
  • Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World
  • A Fine Brush on Ivory: An Appreciation of Jane Austen
  • The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense and Sensibility
  • Searching for Jane Austen
  • Tea with Jane Austen
  • So You Think You Know Jane Austen?
  • Intimations of Austen
  • Jane Austen For Dummies
  • The List Lover's Guide to Jane Austen
  • A Dance with Jane Austen: How a Novelist and Her Characters Went to the Ball
  • The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things
  • Jane Austen: A Life Revealed
  • Mrs Darcy's Dilemma
  • The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen
  • Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury
  • Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom
  • A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma
Tragic Muse: Rachel of the Comedie-Francaise

Share This Book