Lancaster lecturer launches new book on all things Jane Austen

Why are so many of Jane Austen’s female characters – but none of her heroines – called Jane? And why are children so marginal in her storylines? And who exactly is the best match-maker in her fiction?
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Dr Michael Greaney's ‘An A-Z of Jane Austen’, published by Bloomsbury, uses a lively alphabetic format to provide a unique guide to the life and career of a much-loved author.

Containing 26 inter-linked essays, from A is for Accident to Z is for Zigzag, it sheds new light on key images, ideas, objects, people and places in Jane Austen's writings.

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Dr Greaney, a senior lecturer in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University, is an ardent fan of Jane Austen’s work, which includes the famous six…Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.

Dr Mike Greaney.Dr Mike Greaney.
Dr Mike Greaney.

He has taught a specialist class on her work at Lancaster for several years.

Dr Greaney had long-planned a book in A to Z format to celebrate her novels but it wasn’t until he managed to find an ‘X word’ that he actually put pen to paper.

The chapter entitled ‘X is for XIS’ looks at a cryptic, back-to-front letter from Austen to a favourite niece, explores the author’s appetite for riddles and word games in her fiction, and considers why readers so often have to go backwards or re-trace their steps as they make their way through her novels.

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The chapter ‘J is for JANE’ surveys the many Janes in Jane Austen's fiction, and asks why so many of her characters -- but none of her heroines -- share the author's first name, as though the author prefers to stay hidden, or at least out of the limelight, in her own stories.

An A-Z of Jane Austen by Dr Mike Greaney.An A-Z of Jane Austen by Dr Mike Greaney.
An A-Z of Jane Austen by Dr Mike Greaney.

And ‘N is for NO’ argues that 'no' is the most powerful word in the vocabulary of Austen's heroines, and explores the ways in which characters such as Elizabeth Bennett and Fanny Price have to become experts at refusal en route to their happy endings.

The book shows that attention to the tiniest linguistic detail in Austen's work can yield rewarding new perspectives on the achievements of one of our most celebrated authors.

Jane Austen's elaborate worlds have enchanted readers for centuries and this neatly organised, book provides Austen enthusiasts and students alike with a unique insight into the much-loved writer's way with words.

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The A-Z structure provides fresh angles on familiar Austen themes (D is for dance; M is for matchmaking), casts light on under-examined corners of her imagination (R is for risk; S is for servant) and shows how current social and cultural concerns re-shape understanding of her work (Q is for queer; W is for West Indies).

Dr Greaney said: “The book is designed to celebrate the endless re-readability of Austen’s fiction. I hope it provides a new close-up encounter with one of our most celebrated writers.”

A Lancaster launch of Dr Greaney’s book will take place on December 7 at The Storey.

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