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218 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 to >sparkling subversion= (The Stone Diaries) herself, she focuses on Austen=s use of irony and the subversive >politics of the glance.= Raising the often-asked question >How could a novelist who writes so astutely about her own immediate society fail to have mentioned the Napoleonic wars?= Shields says, >[Austen=s] novels show her to be a citizen, and certainly a spectator, of a far wider world.= While her brothers were admirals of the British Navy, Jane >brought to the page the only kind of combat a woman was allowed: the conquest of hearts and the overturning of domestic arrangements.= Shields argues, >Here, in fact, was all that was immediately knowable: families, love affairs, birth and death, boredom and passion, the texture of the quotidian set side by side with the extremities of the human spirit.= Rather than finding sources for her fiction in her life, Shields opines that Austen >saw novel making as an excursion to an invented world rather than a meditation on her own.= Austen=s fiction compensated for deficiencies in her real life: >Her heroines claimed their lives through ideal marriages, while she found her own sense of arrival through her novels.= Shields argues that >Pride and Prejudice, that happiest of novels, erupted from a period of sadness, of personal disappointment,= and, in Persuasion, Austen may be >rewriting the trajectory of her own life and giving it the gift of a happy ending.= The Penguin Lives Series is casual to a fault: entirely lacking scholarly paraphernalia, such as a bibliography or index, or even such standard signposts as a table of contents or chapter headings, it appeals to a broader readership. The craft of Carol Shields ensures that the book will be immensely readable and insightful. Shields=s scholarly preparation and critical acumen, however, ensure that the book will also be valuable to Austen scholars. (NORA FOSTER STOVEL) Bruce Stovel and Lynn Wenlos Gregg, editors. The Talk in Jane Austen University of Alberta Press. xxiii, 269. $29.95 This collection of essays is the by-product of a three-day conference on >The Talk in Jane Austen,= held at a regional meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) in Jasper, Alberta in May, 1999. The collection consists of fifteen conference papers submitted by university professors, graduate students, and independent scholars. In many respects, the essays in this collection resemble the essays usually published in Persuasions, the journal published annually byJASNA. Couched in graceful and limpid prose, they represent an admirable kind of academic New Criticism in its most distilled form. Confined exclusively to the six canonical novels, with primary emphasis given to Pride and Prejudice and Emma, they eschew historical contextualization outside the world of the novels for the most part and, with one important exception, avoid any kind humanities 219 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 of theoretical underpinning, even when that might help to clarify an argument. Perhaps as a result, the authors overlook a number of recent general studies of conversation B e.g., Leah Kedar=s Power through Discourse (1987), Jennifer Coates=s Women Talk (1996), and Martin Malone=s Worlds of Talk (1997) B not to speak of John Dussinger=s penetrating section on conversation in Austen=s novels in In the Pride of the Moment (1990). In spite of these limitations, the essays offer a variety of perspectives towards their chosen subject. Jocelyn Harris examines the ways Austen seeks to subvert the stereotypes of the silent, submissive woman and the shrew, while Bruce Stovel traces a shift from telling to asking questions in Austen=s heroines. In separate essays, Isobel Grundy and Jeffrey Herrle study Austen=s excessive talkers, while Kay Young makes an effective distinction betwen word-work, which occurs at crucial turning points in the novels, and word-play, which creates texture in the sections between these crucial moments. Juliet McMaster offers an analysis of the grammatical patterns of the novels= verbal aggressors, especially Mrs Elton and Isabella Thorpe, while Jan Fergus notes that laughter is the language of the disempowered. In the most...


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