In this episode of our Two for Tea podcast, I talk to Professor John Mullan about the subtlety and genius of Jane Austen: one of most popular and perhaps the most underrated of all the classic English novelists.
Visit John’s academic webpage for more information on his publications:
John’s book ‘What Matters in Jane Austen: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved’:
Jane Austen’s books:
Iona’s Areo article “Writing Wrongs: Why Academics Write So Badly and How That Hurts Them”:
0:00 Opening and introduction, with some remarks on obscurity and lucidity in academic writing.
3:30 Austen as revolutionary literary stylist: Iona reads from John’s book on her.
8:15 Iona reads a passage from Austen’s Persuasion.
12:11 John discusses Austen’s techniques in this passage, particularly her innovation in creating free indirect style.
21:03 Iona reads the next couple of paragraphs of Persuasion; further discussion of Austen’s subtle techniques and themes follows.
30:20 The importance of male sexuality in Austen (“in want of a wife”).
38:46 Austen’s underrated comic genius.
47:00 More on Austen’s men: rakes, celibates, and premarital sex.
54:25 Marriage, sex, and finality in Austen (and marriage as permanent fate in literature more generally).
1:05:00 Idiolects and character in Austen (and the controversy over Austen on the £10 note).
1:14:20 Austen’s writing is both very simple and richly complex.
1:18:31 The importance of the phrase “impossible!” in Austen.
1:19:21 John’s advice for re-reading Austen and some final reflections on her work.
1:23:11 Last words and outro.