"A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen"
Edited by Susannah Carson
Random House, 320 pages, $15
This is a collection for both newcomers to the charms of Jane Austen and those long-time "Janeites," what Rudyard Kipling termed the fans and societies of the writer who has enthralled us for two decades.
Some essays are newly composed, by contemporary writers such as Jay McInerney and Amy Heckerling, while are others from giants of literary criticism: E.M. Forster, Lionel Trilling and Virginia Woolf. "We read Austen," Harold Bloom writes in his foreword, "because she seems to know us better than we know ourselves, and she seems to know us so intimately for the simple reason that she helped determine who we are as both readers and as human beings."
The novels of Jane Austen live beyond the page, haunting our lives. The writers in this volume explain their own relationship with Austen and together are a kind of invitation for us, whether we're Janeites or not, to understand why we are so in her thrall.
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