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The Making of Jane Austen

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  141 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Just how did Jane Austen become the celebrity author and the inspiration for generations of loyal fans she is today? Devoney Looser's The Making of Jane Austen turns to the people, performances, activism, and images that fostered Austen's early fame, laying the groundwork for the beloved author we think we know.

Here are the Austen influencers, including her first English i
Hardcover, 282 pages
Published June 27th 2017 by Johns Hopkins University Press
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  141 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Kathleen Flynn
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Scholarly yet sprightly, full of short chapters of surprising information about various aspects of Jane Austen's afterlife. However much you might think you know about Austen, you will be amazed by all you didn't know. I particularly enjoyed the account of the difficult birth of the notoriously campy 1940 film version of "Pride and Prejudice." Judging from Looser's descriptions of some of the scenes that did not make it into the final version, it could have been much, much worse. ...more
Christina Morland
In The Making of Jane Austen, Professor Devoney Looser offers a captivating, thoroughly-researched examination of Jane Austen's cultural legacy from the middle of the nineteenth century through the late twentieth century. At once scholarly and amusing, this book mirrors Austen's own ability to write works that would become popular and highbrow, academic and accessible. Perhaps best of all, Professor Looser introduces her readers to suffragists and psychics, poorly-paid illustrators and world-fam ...more
Mar 15, 2018 marked it as nonfiction-tbr  ·  review of another edition
DNFd at 22%, but I definitely want to revisit this later on.
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
My review will appear on my blog June 18, 2017 with photos and illustrations. The link is

Her novels were published anonymously when novels were still considered suspect, thought to arouse women's passions. She was presented as a spinster leading an uneventful life, with little knowledge of the world. The Victorians were not impressed by her and Charlotte Bronte detested her novels.

How did Jane Austen become the influential celebrity so important that the B
Margaret Sullivan
Review to;dr, I'm not sure this for everybody but Austen nerds (of which race I am a proud member) will love it. ...more
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the very best pieces of Austen scholarship of the past ten years.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-books-read
In this nonfiction book, Looser shows what influenced Austen's popularity down through the years. Her main point is that Austen's reputation has "shifted with the times and with the needs and desires" of the various audiences, from Suffragettes to modern cosplayers, from gentlemen's club members to National Lampoon readers.

This is not a quick read; it is an intellectual study that requires thought to both consume and digest the material. (I would compare it to a college textbook.) Janeites expec
George Justice
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the rare book of deep scholarship written with verve and intelligence, accessible to readers interested in Jane Austen and the history of her role in the world.
Tonstant Weader
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it

Nearly everyone loves Jane Austen. People have favorites and can get quite heated over whether “Emma” or “Mansfield Park” or “Pride and Prejudice” are the best or who wrote the best completion of Sanditon or how anyone would dare, but outright dislike for Jane Austen? I sure, like the yeti, it may exist, but only in theory. Most everyone likes Jane Austen, but which one? There’s so many to choose from, the prim and proper defender of class and privilege, the saucy, dry wit skewering class and pr
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this! So much information about what made Jane Austen the figure she is today. I especially enjoyed the section on the plays that were based on her life and her work.

Also, yes, the 1940 film version of Pride and Prejudice was terrible, but apparently it also could have been much worse? Frankly, I wish that some of the terrible scenes in question were filmed because I just really want to watch Jane get smallpox and Darcy tell Elizabeth that her favorite dog is of inferior breeding. Oh, th
Sarah Wagner
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction
As an author, Jane Austen has reached a near mythic status, and this book, focusing not on the author's life but her afterlife, tells part of the story of how that came to be. Looking at how Austen's stories were illustrated in the 19th century, how stage actors adapted her novels, how politicians from different ends of the political spectrum made use of her words, and how students were introduced to Austen through curriculums, this book pieces together the story of an author's legacy. Different ...more
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Really well written, and I learned a lot about one of my favorite authors, but it was a bit too academic at times and I didn’t love that. I loved the author’s exploration of early Austen adaptations though!
V. Briceland
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's difficult to create a narrative of literary historiography with mass appeal—but Devoney Looser's The Making of Jane Austen comes close. Looser examines the ways that Austen's body of work has been adapted and co-opted through the years. Illustrated editions of Austen's novels, for example, were initially slow to arrive to a burgeoning market for such volumes in the years after the author's death, yet once they did, they became so rapidly popular that many of the engravings became canon in t ...more
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cbr-10
I do not know Professor Looser personally, but my MA thesis advisor does through Jane Austen scholarship, and my former department chair at Marquette gets a shout-out in her acknowledgments! It's fun playing the Six Degrees of Academic Kevin Bacon. Name recognition made me pick up this book, but the content is a game-changer for Austen scholarship.

Looser focuses on less-known aspects of scholarship or culture surrounding Jane Austen. In so doing, she opens up avenues for future researchers to ex
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
The author delves into a detailed exploration of the development of Jane Austen's celebrity. She discusses the various illustrators who achieved fame through their associations with Austen; the playwrights, scholars, and other figures who interpreted Austen and helped make her more than a lady authoress. This book sounded more interesting than it was; Looser is extremely academic in her approach and only the most dedicated Austen scholars will really find their attention held. Kind of disappoint ...more
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
This book focuses on how Austen became a celebrity author. Looser discusses little known and well known facts beginning with Austen’s first illustrators. Sadly the 1946 edition of P&P, that was my grandparents and is now mine, by the World Publishing Company and illustrated by Edgar’s Cirlin is not mentioned. Those illustrations are quite entertaining. Looser goes on to discuss dramatizations of Austen’s work, basically ending with the first movie version in the 1940s. She ends with a discussion ...more
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Full disclosure: Devoney Looser was my instructor for a course focused on Jane Austen books. I can't honestly say I ever really intended on diving into Austen's novels, but I'm glad I did!

The Making of Jane Austen is an absolutely outstanding read that is both scholarly (EXTENSIVELY researching the subject matter), enlightening, and really entertaining as well. Hopefully returning to this review in the winter where I can touch upon why I found this to be such an important/crucial text for peopl
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An impressive and compelling work of Austen scholarship. Who knew? About the history of Austen illustration, dramatization, her uses by Hollywood, textbook editors, etc.? About how political players across the spectrum have claimed her for their side? How the focus on Elizabeth vs. Darcy as the most interesting character in P&P was a tug-of-war over the centuries. Thank you for this important work. Not for the casual Austen fan, but a fascinating exploration of previously unstudied aspects of he ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Devoney Looser nimbly balances the academic world of Jane Austen scholarship with the more popular approach of Jane Austen fandom. This book examines how the English-speaking world has adapted and received Austen’s work since shortly after the author’s death in 1817. Accessible and well-written, this book is highly recommended for Janeites.
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Who knew there was more to explore on the Jane Austen scene? Yet Devoney Looser, professor, blogger and rockstar of the Austen world has uncovered fascinating and little known aspects of Jane Austen's reception in the 19th and and 20th centuries in this scholarly, yet accessible and entertaining study. ...more
Rachel Rogers
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting subject material but tediously written. Only made it about half-way through before the ponderous nature of the writing made me move on. It's been a while since I re-read any of my favorite Jane Austen books but this was sapping all the light from my thoughts of them. ...more
A must-read for any fans of Jane Austen. Devoney Looser's book is a treasure trove of context for putting Jane Austen in her "place" historically and within the canon. I was so excited to read this book but it exceeded all my expectations. It's a masterpiece. ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was dense with well-researched facts about how and why society's views of Jane Austen and her novels have evolved in the 200 years since her death. I learned a tremendous amount about the topic that I was completely unaware of before. Thought-provoking! ...more
Brandi Fox
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent look at the many ways we’ve collectively interacted with the legacy of Jane Austen. If you are interested in her work or the cultural phenomena it has birthed this bit of accessible scholarship is an ideal read.
Kay Mcgriff
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at how the works of Jane Austen have influenced popular culture (through illustration, dramatizations and cinema), politics and education and how those in turn have influenced our understanding of her.
Debra Schoenberger
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not an easy read but very interesting.
Jackie Machardy
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Short, dense, scholarly look at how Jane Austen made her way to her place on the world's "best of" bookshelf. Well researched and thorough. ...more
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The best book on Austen I’ve ever read.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Too scholarly for my taste. If this were a textbook and I was taking a class, it would make sense. However, while there were many interesting and entertaining sections, overall it's just too heavy. ...more
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Fascinating look at the evolution of Jane Austen's reputation and production around her works. ...more
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Hello! I'm Devoney Looser, Foundation Professor of English at Arizona State University. I also go by Stone Cold Jane Austen, especially on roller skates.

My edited book, The Daily Jane Austen: A Year of Quotes, came out recently from the University of Chicago Press (2019). I also wrote The Making of Jane Austen (Johns Hopkins University Press), a 2017 Publishers Weekly Best Summer Book (Nonfiction)

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“That innovator is the aforementioned Hugh Thomson, who might be called the Colin Firth of Austen-inspired book illustration." (P. 52)” 1 likes
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