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Palgrave Macmillan

Jane Austen's Possessions and Dispossessions

The Significance of Objects

ISBN 9781137406309
Publication Date April 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Who owns, who buys, who gives, who mentions, and who notices objects is always significant in Austen's writing. The trimming on a gown or the style of a carriage is made to place a character socially. Covetousness and meanness are clearly damned, but objects are used for more subtle forms of characterization; an attitude towards a meal, or a gift, or a tree is made more effective than a dozen speeches. If possessions are important, so is dispossession, which Austen suffered in her own life and whose effects she explores in the lives of her characters. Jane Austen's Possessions and Dispossessions looks at the significance of objects in Austen's major novels, fragments, and juvenilia.

Sandie Byrne is University Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Oxford and Director of Studies in English Literature and Creative Writing at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, UK. She is the author of a number of articles and books on nineteenth- and twentieth-century writing.

List of Abbreviations
A note on the texts
1. Austen Possessions and Dispossessions
2. Sense and Sensibility Giving and Taking
3. Pride and Prejudice: General Impressions
4. Mansfield Park Benevolence and Gratitude
5. Emma The Obliged and the Obligated
6. Persuasion Loss and Retrieval
7. Northanger Abbey Signs taken for Wonders
8. The Early Writing and Fragments
9. The Land and the Big House


"Byrne is a knowledgeable guide to a fascinating topic. Her study is well-informed and has a well-stocked bibliography to peruse… she always discusses interesting aspects of Austen's novels… Byrne has a solid contribution to make to a rich field of study. The most interesting conclusion from her study is that we, Austen's readers, have done so much work in imagining her fictional worlds, without feeling particularly strained or even aware of it." — Andre van Loon, JASNA News
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