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Why Jane Austen?$
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Rachel Brownstein

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153911

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153911.001.0001

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(p.151) Chapter 4 Authors
Why Jane Austen?

Rachel M. Brownstein

Columbia University Press

This chapter talks about eighteenth-century women's authorship. The pre-texts of two unsigned first novels that support Jane Austen's brief career as a publishing writer suggests the predicament of women authors in and around her time and place. The dedications in Frances Burney's Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady's Entrance Into the World (1778)—a woman-centered domestic novel about courtship that ends in marriage—and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818)—a book about a man who creates a man—reflect the continuing force of patriarchy in their lives. When Austen finally published Sense and Sensibility (1811), she chose to sign it “By a Lady.” Her subsequent books were identified as “By the author of Sense and Sensibility, etc.” This reticence is best understood as a reflection of a skeptical view of authorship that is consistent with her sense of the world.

Keywords:   women authors, Frances Burney, Evelina, Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, patriarchy, Sense and Sensibility, authorship

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