Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Short Review: A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers On Why We Read Jane Austen

Today was my first day back at work after five days off.  Let me clarify that those days were spent GRADING for end of term, whenever I wasn't falling asleep from my surgery on Friday.  Honestly, going back to work really only pushed me out of bed early, with real clothes on!  I suppose that's over half the battle though, right?  My voice is still really weak, which has me pretty frustrated.  I'm just hoping it comes roaring back to life soon...literally!

Okay, enough whining on my part!

In between grading and resting up this last week, I picked up a copy of a collection of essays and academic articles on Jane Austen.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but soon found that A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers On Why We Read Jane Austen wasn't a casual read.   This collection of essays really run the gamut, as I gathered when I noted the foreword was written by the very famous literary critic, Harold Bloom.  Other authors have included essays about Jane Austen, her individual works, or varied themes in her writing.  Authors such as:  Eudora Welty, E. M. Forster, Martin Amis, C. S. Lewis, A. S. Byatt, David Lodge, and Virginia Woolf are included in this collection.  Although their topics are varied, and absolutely astute in their ideas, their essays instantly took me back to graduate school. 

Edited by Susannah Carson, it appears that articles were chosen from as varied an audience as possible (among other authors and academics), with pretty critical approaches to Austen's texts.  I will acknowledge that I didn't read every article in the book, as I felt that would require me to get out a pen to annotate the ideas as I went!  I did, however, peruse many of the articles and found them to be pretty weighty reading.  Although I admit to loving a good bit of literary criticism once in awhile, I can't say than an entire collection of essays as presented could tear me away from the weightier selection of novels I have waiting for me right now.  My recommendation, if you are interested in checking out this collection of essays, would be to pick out a few of the articles that seem most interesting.  Otherwise, I might leave this collection to the college version of myself who needed great information and a resource for writing a literary essay of my own.

Here is another review by Jane Austen's World.
Also, another review by Austenprose.

If you've read this collection, or picked it up, what did you think?


  1. I picked this book up when it first came out and I quickly decided that it is not one to be devoured in one sitting. I read a couple of the essays at that time and then put it away for a few months. I anticipate that I will be referring to this book often over the years - but in very short spurts.

  2. Molly--I'm glad to see someone else has been exposed to it. I wasn't sure what to expect, but as you say, it's definitely more of a reference.