Jane Austen's Erotic Advice

Raff, Sarah

Published by Oxford University Press
ISBN 10: 0199760330 / ISBN 13: 9780199760336
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Synopsis: In November 1814, Jane Austen's niece Fanny Knight wrote Austen a letter secretly requesting advice. Fanny wanted urgently to know whether she should continue encouraging her most ardent suitor, what the future would hold were she to marry him, and whether she, Fanny, was in love with him. Fanny evidently wished to turn over her love life to Austen's creative direction, and Austen's letters of response cooperate with this desire.

Today, many readers address to Austen's novels their deepest uncertainties about their love lives. Consulting Austen-themed divination toys for news about the future or applying to their own circumstances the generalizations they have gleaned from Austen's narrator, characters, or plots, they look to Austen not for anonymous instruction but for the custom-tailored guidance-and magical intervention-of an advisor who knows them well.

This book argues that Austen, inspired by her niece to embrace the most scandalous possibilities of the novel genre, sought in her three last-published novels to match her readers with real-world lovers. The fictions that Austen wrote or revised after beginning the advisory correspondence address themselves to Fanny Knight. They imagine granting Fanny a happy love life through the thaumaturgic power of literary language even as they retract Austen's epistolary advice and rewrite its results. But they also pass along the role of Fanny Knight to Austen's readers, who get a chance to be shaped by Austen's creative effort, to benefit from Austen's matchmaking prowess, and to develop nothing less than a complex love relation with Austen herself.

Product Description: Raff sets her study in the early nineteenth century world, depicting the cultural debates and literary fandom that provided Austen a fertile playing field. She traces Austen's increasingly libidinal narrative presence (from early experiments in the narrator-reader relationship, to the seductive appeal of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, and on to the outright authorial titillation of Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey), while simultaneously offering analysis of her biography that connects prose and life. She targets Austen's experience in 1814 as romantic advisor to her niece Fanny Knight as pivotal to her shift to teacher-cum-paramour. The revelation of Austen's thoughts about writing and love-making and of the techniques she employed to seduce readers, display Austen's command over not just her famously effervescent prose, but also her notorious fan base. Raff's original and audacious argument is combined with a lively, conspiratorial style that will delight many readers, especially Jane Austen mavens, the bewitched Janeites, who will be gratified to find out that Austen doesn't just seem to be speaking to them-she was, in fact, consciously courting their affection all along.

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Title: Jane Austen's Erotic Advice
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: New

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