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Jane Austen, or the Secret of Style

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  84 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
What is the world-historical importance of Jane Austen? An old maid writes with the detachment of a god. Here, the stigmatized condition of a spinster; there, a writer's unequalled display of absolute, impersonal authority. In between, the secret work of Austen's style: to keep at bay the social doom that would follow if she ever wrote as the person she is.


For no Jane Aust
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Paperback, 108 pages
Published August 28th 2005 by Princeton University Press (first published 2003)
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Sherwood Smith
This is a very short book, extremely well written, dense with fascinating thought. Disquieting thought, even, as I find myself wanting to explain, excuse, make everything nice when he discusses the comfortable het world’s assumptions about Austen's books from a non-het POV. Like his analysis of the Famous First Sentence in P&P.

Like this bit Miller brings up: (When Mr. Knightley pronounces Frank Churckill’s script “like a woman’s writing” even the women he is addressing, Emma and Mrs. Weston
...more
Jee Koh
Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Miller's book-length essay is a delightful and thought-provoking read. Its thesis is that the heart of Austen's style lies in "a failed, or refused, but in any case shameful relation to the conjugal imperative." To obliterate the signs of a shameful spinsterhood, she adopts a style that polishes all human particularities from the narrator's voice, and achieves a kind of impersonal, ironic, universal objectivity. But the escape into style, Miller contends, will still leave traces of the personal. ...more
Nikolina Hatton
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I think it's possible to give a book five stars without necessarily agreeing with all of its conclusions/premises. Some might see this as an insensitive portrayal of Austen-the-spinster-narrator; however, I think there is more to the essay than that, and if you read it, you'll see why. Intriguing, provocative, and painfully well-written, you can tell that "Style" is an object close to Miller's heart, that he has sensed it in Austen, and this essay is his desperate attempt to comprehend it. (Espe ...more
Nina
Aug 30, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: regency
I learned a lot about D. A. Miller and a little about Austen's work.
michelle
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
Many of Miller's claims were sound to me, but I had some issues with his habit of relating Jane Austen's authorial voice with her biographical position as an unmarried woman.
Éowyn
Mar 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Yes, still as turgid and self satisfied as when I previously waded through this.

Must actually get rid of it this time and remind self not to re-read things you have rated two stars...
Devoney Looser
I've had the pleasure of reviewing this book: Looser, Devoney. Rev. of Jane Austen, or, The Secret of Style, by D. A. Miller. JASNA News 20.2 (2004): 16–17. Print.
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