Jane Austen, the Secret Radical
‘A sublime piece of literary detective work that shows us once and for all how to be precisely the sort of reader that Austen deserves.’ Caroline Criado-Perez, Guardian
Almost everything we think we know about Jane Austen is wrong. Her novels don’t confine themselves to grand houses and they were not written just for readers’ enjoyment. She writes about serious subjects and her books are deeply subversive. We just don’t read her properly - we haven’t been reading her properly for 200 years.
Jane Austen, The Secret Radical puts that right. In her first, brilliantly original book, Austen expert Helena Kelly introduces the reader to a passionate woman living in an age of revolution; to a writer who used what was regarded as the lightest of literary genres, the novel, to grapple with the weightiest of subjects – feminism, slavery, abuse, the treatment of the poor, the power of the Church, even evolution – at a time, and in a place, when to write about such things directly was seen as akin to treason.
Uncovering a radical, spirited and political engaged Austen, Jane Austen, The Secret Radical will encourage you to read Jane, all over again.
'What this radical re-reading ... does so brilliantly is to exhort us all to chuck out the chintz, and the teacups, and all the traditional romantic notions about Austen's work that have been fed to us for so long ... However well you think you know the novels, you'll be raring to read them again once you've read this.' -- Caroline Sanderson 'A sublime piece of literary detective work that shows us once and for all how to be precisely the sort of reader that Austen deserves.' -- Caroline Criado-Perez Guardian "An addictive debut" Stylist 'You'll definitely see Austen's works differently from now on' Nottingham Post 'A thoroughly engaging read.' 'Thoroughly impressive and convincing' 'It encapsulates smartly much that a frequently chintzy Austen industry would prefer to overlook.'
Helena Kelly holds degrees in Classics and English from Oxford and King's College London. She teaches Austen at an Oxford summer school, and for a programme for American visiting students in Bath. She has taught Austen to hundreds of people, of all ages, nationalities, and backgrounds. Jane Austen, The Secret Radical is her first book.