Literary Musings

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical: How She Would Have Liked to Be Read

In Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, author Helena Kelly looks past the grand houses, drawing room dramas, and witty dialogue that have long been the hallmarks of Jane Austen‘s work to bring to light the serious, ambitious, subversive concerns of this beloved writer. Kelly illuminates the radical views — on such subjects as slavery, poverty, feminism, marriage, and the church — that Austen deftly and carefully explored in her six novels, at a time when open criticism was considered treason.

Kelly shows us that Austen was fully aware of what was going on in the world during the turbulent times she lived in, and sure of what she thought of it. Above all, Austen understood that the novel — until then dismissed as mindless and frivolous — could be a meaningful art form, one that in her hands reached unprecedented heights of greatness. Read More→


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Jane on the Brain: Jane Austen and Empathy

Jane on the Brain: Exploring the Science of Social Intelligence with Jane Austen by Wendy Jones (Pegasus Books, © 2017) is an exploration of how Jane Austen was able to capture human psychology via relatable characters in compelling stories. Following is an excerpt from the book introducing the role of empathy in Austen’s novels, but first, a few words from the publisher:

“Why is Jane Austen so phenomenally popular? Why do we read Pride and Prejudice again and again? Why do we delight in Emma’s mischievous schemes? Why do we care about the suffering of Anne Elliot in Persuasion?

We care because it is our biological destiny to be interested in people and their stories — the human brain is a social brain. And Austen’s characters are so believable that, for many of us, they are not just imaginary beings, but friends whom we know and love. And thanks to Austen’s ability to capture the breadth and depth of human psychology so richly, we feel that she empathizes with us, her readers. Read More→


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Marilla of Green Gables: A Future Feminist

Sarah McCoy, author of Marilla of Green Gables (2018) explores the formidable yet loving Marilla Cuthbert (who raises the irrepressible orphan Anne Shirley, better known as Anne of Green Gables) in this meditation on family, community, and character:

It’s clear from the first chapter of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s acclaimed Anne of Green Gables who is in charge: Marilla Cuthbert.

My mother first read this novel to me, and I didn’t bat an eyelash at the clear delineation of matriarchal power. I grew up in a military household. My father was an officer frequently away on TDY (Temporary Duty), deployments, and long hours at his army post. So from the beginning, my mother ruled the roost, and we were not the anomaly. Read More→


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10 Classic Indian Women Authors

The most fascinating part of this exploration of classic Indian women authors is that their writings reflected a feminist bent. Given the strong patriarchal culture that still prevails in India and the fact that most of these women started their creative lives in the mid-twentieth century, one can only marvel at the courage and strength of their writings.

Since India has twenty-two recognized languages, this compilation is by no means comprehensive. For the sake of convenience, the authors have been listed in chronological order of their birth years. Read More→


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9 Facts about Colette, Prolific and Passionate French Author

Colette (1873 – 1954), the French author (born Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette) was as known for her writing as for her scandalous love life in the course of her prolific career. Rejecting society’s rules for female expression and sexuality, she overcame notoriety to be regarded as one of the most treasured authors in the canon of French literature. 

Colette was no angel and certainly had her flaws in a full life of great accomplishment as well as of scandal. But from mid-career on, and beyond her lifetime she’s consistently been recognized as one of France’s most notable literary figures. Even today, her rebellion against societal norms for women and owning of her sexuality would be admired as progressive. In her time, she was nothing short of  radical! Read More→


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