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Margaret Doody: Jane Austen’s Names: Riddles, Persons, Places. Reviewed

December 16, 2016

Reblogging this cos it’s “Jane Austen” day apparently.

conradbrunstrom

doody

In Margaret Doody’s long and careful study of Jane Austen’s art of naming, there’s not a person nor a place that isn’t, seemingly interrogated – or rather excavated – for its potential resonances.

This book begins, correctly, with the assumption that Jane Austen was a very careful and deliberate novelist and she thought hard both about what her characters were called and where they came from.  Also where they were going.  For Doody, Fictional names are never just plucked out of Austen’s head – they relate to the real world – they are drawn from sources which echo in history, in particular Tudor and Stuart history – the history which tore England (and Britain) apart – which divided regions and families by creeds theological and political.

This could read like a work of wilful obscurantist antiquarianism were it not for the passion for Austen’s craft which informs this very readable…

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