Jane's Fame tells the fascinating story of Jane Austen's renown, from the years of rejection the author faced during her lifetime to the global recognition and adoration she now enjoys. Almost two hundred years after her death, Austen remains a hot topic, constantly open to revival and reinterpretation and known to millions of people through film and television adaptations as much as through her books. In Jane's Fame, Claire Harman gives us the complete biography—of both the author and her lasting cultural influence—making this essential reading for anyone interested in Austen's life, works, and remarkably potent fame.
Diverting anecdotes pepper award-winning British biographer Harman's (Myself and the Other Fellow: A Life of Robert Louis Stevenson) sharp and scholarly analysis of Jane Austen's life and the posthumous exploitation of her as a "global brand" having "everything to do with recognition and little to do with reading." Tracing the rise and fall and rise of Austen's reputation against a larger historical backdrop, Harman chronicles the WWI-era worshipping "Janeites"; assessments of Austen that minimized her as an "accidental artist"; and modern post-feminist criticism that, in exploring her politics, sexual and otherwise, has placed Austen "in several mutually exclusive spheres at once." Harman notes that film versions have taken liberties with and overshadowed Austen's books, concluding that "ne of the horrible ironies of Austen's currency in contemporary popular culture is that she is referenced so freely in discussions of 'empowerment,' 'girl power,' and all the other travesties of womanly self-fashioning that stand in for feminism" today. Yet "it is impossible to imagine a time when she or her works could have delighted us long enough." Harman herself delights with this comprehensive catalogue of Austen-mania. Illus.