Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen” as Want to Read:
A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  851 ratings  ·  106 reviews
For so many of us a Jane Austen novel is much more than the epitome of a great read. It is a delight and a solace, a challenge and a reward, and perhaps even an obsession. For two centuries Austen has enthralled readers. Few other authors can claim as many fans or as much devotion. So why are we so fascinated with her novels? What is it about her prose that has made Jane A ...more
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published November 10th 2009 by Random House (NY)
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 A Truth Universally Acknowledged, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Truth Universally Acknowledged

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  851 ratings  ·  106 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen
"Many of Jane Austen's admirers, it is true, read her novels as a means of escape into a cozy sort of Old English nirvana, but they find this escape in her pages only because, as E. M. Foster has written, the devout "Janeite" "like all regular churchgoers ... scarcely notices what is being said."
Nor do we need such a great deal of ingenuity to see that all, or nearly all, the great issues in human life make their appearance on Jane Austen's narrow stage. True, it is only a stage of petty do
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this intelligent book, which is a compilation of essays about Jane Austen from 33 writers. My interview with the author began like this:

A: There have been so many excellent essays written on Jane Austen! Most of them endeavor to clarify some aspect of the novels—the what, when, how, etc.—and these can be extraordinarily helpful. But then there are other essays which tackle what is, in my opinion, the big question: the why. Not, for instance, how can we understand the relationshi
Meredith (Austenesque Reviews)
Oct 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jane-austen
A Truth Universally Acknowledged is a collection of essays from literary scholars, contemporary authors, literature professors, critics, novelists, playwrights, and academics, to name a few. Some of these writers are men and others are women, some are at the beginning of their career and others are at their apex, some lived during the nineteenth century while others are alive during the twenty-first century. In their individual essays each writer ponders, analyzes, evaluates, explains o
Jan 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Austen holds a certain fascination to me. Perhaps it is because I grew up in such a secluded corner of the world and yearn for that quietness in the hustle and bustle of my daily existence in the city. Perhaps it is because I am an incurable romantic at heart and abhor what passes for communication in the modern world - the likes of FaceBook and Twitter. Or perhaps it is because celebrity gossip interests me far less than gossip about people I know intimately and meet regularly.
I have lost coun
I am a Jane Austenite, and therefore slightly imbecile about Jane Austen.” - E. M. Forster

An intelligent and very interesting essay collection about Jane Austen and her timeless novels. This anthology surprised me with its great variety of topics and authors; writers such as C. S. Lewis, Austen-devotees such as Janet Todd, literary critics such as the famous Harold Bloom and even the brilliant E. M. Forster contributes to this lovely little collection. It makes for great entertainment, a lovely
Girl with her Head in a Book
For my full review:

I stumbled over this book during a visit to Mr B's Emporium in Bath (magical place!) and have been saving it ever since for my next Austen in August. I had never heard of it but was instantly smitten with the premise. The book's subtitle is "33 Reasons Why We Can't Stop Reading Jane Austen". My only complaint might be that surely there could be more. A Truth Universally Acknowledged draws together essays from writers both old and new, w
Nov 18, 2017 rated it liked it
3 1/2 Stars, Definitely enjoyed the articles I read. I found some of my m writers of my earlier years discussing my long-time beloved writer Jane Austen: Eudora Welty, C S Lewis and Virginia Woolf. I also found the much-respected and challenging-to-understand Harold Bloom.
This type of book--a collection of essays and articles--was more popular pre-internet days. How convenient to have a bound collection of essays and articles about a favorite or much-referenced writer or literary movement. Now
4.5 stars

A collection of essays from famous writers about Jane Austen's books and why we read them. I've gather a lot of different perspectives on her books; some offered how her writing captivates the readers, some gave opinions on what she tried to deliver through the stories and some explained why he/she kept reading the particular title. I had fun reading this!

Jan 26, 2010 rated it liked it
This book collects 33 essays by writers, readers, movie producers and Austen scholars- all dedicated to celebrating Jane Austen. It's a perfect book to publish at this time since Jane has never been cooler. She is an action figure, she is a detective, her characters have been made into vampires and zombies, there are countless movies and books surrounding her and her stories. This collection of essays, though, is about READING Austen's novels. Not reading the sequels. Not watching beautiful adap ...more
Dec 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction

This book made me reread Austin. For those Austinites I'm preaching to the choir but for those of you who turn up your nose at such, "old fashioned, boring, mindnumblingly sexist books," I say poo on you! You narrow minded ninny! Jane Austin's one of the founders of the modern novel and one of (if not the) the first to write from an exclusively woman's points of view. Stop acting like you know how an 18th century women would feel because that's how YOU would feel.

If you're thinking about read
Feb 03, 2010 rated it liked it
This is an excellent collection of mainly 20th century criticism of Jane Austen. For those with no familiarity with Austen criticism, there can't be a better place to start. For me, with some familiarity, there is redundancy here. One good feature is the inclusion of many essays by novelists like Jay McInnerny, Margaux Livesey, and Virginia Wolfe. The essay by Amy Heckerling, who adapted Emma for film as Clueless was fun. The two that I found most insightful were those that knowledgeably set Aus ...more
Gretchen Rings
Dec 01, 2009 rated it liked it
The essays are more literary criticism than social commentary, which is what I was hoping for., e.g., why all the recent spin-offs like "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"?! Still, an incredible compilation of writers from Virginia Woolf to E.M. Forster to Jay McInerney on what makes Jane Austen one of the greatest writers of all time.
Courtney Johnston
Abandoned, because when I cracked open the first entry, I realised I had absolutely no interest in hearing why 33 people think I should read Jane Austen, and more interest in actually re-reading Austen for myself.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely assortment of essays. Some were a little too academic for me, but most were like chatting with friends about favorite books.
Feb 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Well, it took me a couple of years of reading this in the evening while my husband took his turn reading a bedtime story to our daughter, but I finally finished it. Not bad, but some of these kind of annoyed me. The one author that mentioned her own novels nearly as much as those of Austen, the male author who used the word "bitch" to describe an admittedly less than likable female character - kind of jarring and off-putting, to me. My favorite essay by far was the one by Virginia Woolf - well-w ...more
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book of essay attempts in various ways to breakdown the mystique of the works of Jane Austen. Done from a slew of appriachs, some more clinical than others, each author brings their own love and joy of the Austen canon to the mix.

Each book gets their own series of essays and it actually made me think more about my own techinque as a writer. It also made me reconsider what i like and dislike about the various novels and has made me eager to read all of the works in short order!
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book contains short essays by English professors and well-known writers about reading Jane Austen. It was interesting to consider the positive and negative critiques and to consider the why, how, and what of her writing. Convinced me to read all Austen's novels again, both because they are great reading and because I want to think about them in light of these essays.
Aug 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Janeites
Loved it.
33 writers (some of them great) on why they love or read Jane Austen. They disagree on which book is the best, which heroine is the most developed, which ending the most true. It was wonderful to immerse myself in reading the intelligent and sometimes witty thoughts of others who appreciate Austen.
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am an Austenite, and I have read Jane Austen's 6 great works many times through. That being said, I really enjoyed this. Only a few essays were almost too obstruse for me to understand, and none of it was Freudian (thank goodness). The essay be Virginia Woolf was particularly insightful. I think if you aren't fairly familiar with the works of Jane Austen, you wouldn't enjoy it quite as much.
So much fun! It's nice to know there are ppl out there far, far more obsessed with Jane than me. Also, there are some pretty strong words about those who prefer Bronte, as well as about those who are crazy enough to diss Bronte. note to self- really must read something in addition to jane eyre...
Nov 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Quite a nice collection of essays and critiques of Austen's work ranging from popular (Amy Heckerling) to classic (Virginia Woolf) to academic (Harold Bloom).
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I am not one to read non-fiction in general; I will, however, pick something up if it piques my interest enough - or I absolutely love the subject matter. Most of the essays/excerpts within this collection were a great read and had varying insights into Jane Austen's characters, writing style, and lasting effects.

There were a couple though that I completely disagreed with. That is my own opinion, so I will let other readers decide for themselves.

I personally would not recommend, but only becau
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Extremely read-able series of short essays. Nothing overly serious or scholarly, but certainly thoughtful, and I was interested to see where my opinions diverge from others, and speculate about why (maybe I dislike Emma because I am like her).
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having never studied a Jane Austen novel it was wonderful to get such varied and articulate perspectives of her work. There is so much more to her work that I never knew. Going to have to go back and re read them all. Can't wait.
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved reading this so much!! But not as much as reading Jane Austen. ;) I feel like this book and Why Buffy Matters are both going to end up on my best of 2017 list.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Definitely more academic than what I was hoping for (what exactly was i hoping for?), but some of these essays were great.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not horrible. However, some of the articles were boring to death.
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Delight from start to finish. Reading this was validating, because all of the academic and personal opinions I've held about Austen are affirmed here in essays by the likes of Virginia Woolf, CS Lewis, Eudora Welty, EM Forster, Anna Quindlen, and many others. In the course of the book, these writers say pretty much everything I would say to the people who ask me, "What's so great about Jane Austen, anyway?" (And how have I become an amateur spokesperson for her many virtues? I love her, but I lo ...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Other Bennet Sister
  • Tea with Jane Austen
  • Miss Austen
  • Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels
  • Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World
  • The Mirror & the Light
  • These Old Shades (Alastair-Audley, #1)
  • The Unpredictable Consequences of Love
  • The Secrets of Ivy Garden
  • What Would Jane Austen Do?
  • Once Upon Now
  • Rainbow's End (Felse, #13)
  • The Making of Pride and Prejudice
  • Nachtblauw
  • Perception
  • City of Gold and Shadows (The Felse Investigations #12)
  • The Jane Austen Treasury: Her Life, Her Times, Her Novels
  • Gossip from the Forest
See similar books…
Susannah Carson is an American author, editor, and academic. She received her Ph.D. from Yale, after earning graduate degrees at Paris III, La Sorbonne-Nouvelle and Lyon II, L’Université des Lumières. Her work has appeared in scholarly publications, newspapers, and magazines, including The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, Seventeenth-Century French Studies, and the collection Religi ...more

Related Articles

Emma Straub was all set to spend May on tour promoting her new novel, All Adults Here. Instead, due to the global pandemic, the Brooklyn-based auth...
14 likes · 4 comments
“Nor do we need such a great deal of ingenuity to see that all, or nearly all, the great issues in human life make their appearance on Jane Austen's narrow stage. True, it is only a stage of petty domestic circumstance; but that, after all, is the only stage where most of us are likely to meet them.
Jane Austen's stage, then, is narrow; it is also devoted to entertainment; and we may fail to recognize the great issues of life in their humorous garb unless we are prepared to view the comic mode as an entertainment which can be both intellectually and morally serious. - Ian Watt - On Sense and Sensbility”
“Today we are less accustomed to look for universal norms in what we read ... partly because we tend to see life, and therefore literature, mainly in terms of individual experience. Jane Austen's own standards were, like those of her age, much more absolute; and as a novelist she presented all her characters in terms of of their relations to a fixed code of values. - Ian Watt "On Sense and Sensibility” 1 likes
More quotes…