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Summary

A radical look at Jane Austen as you've never seen her - as a lover of farce, comic theatre and juvenilia. The Genius of Jane Austen celebrates Britain's favourite novelist 200 years after her death and explores why her books make such awesome movies time after time.

Jane Austen loved the theatre. She learned much of her art from a long tradition of English comic drama and took joyous participation in amateur theatricals. Her juvenilia, then Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma, were shaped by the arts of theatrical comedy.

Her admiration for drama's dialogue, characterisation, plotting, exits and entrances is why she has been dramatised so successfully onscreen in the last 20 years - and these versions are at the centre of her continuing fame, culminating in her celebration on the £10 note.

Austen expert and author of The Real Jane Austen Paula Byrne looks at stage adaptations of Austen's novels (including one called Miss Elizabeth Bennet by A. A. Milne) to modern classics, including the BBC Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility and the phenomenally brilliant and successful Clueless. The Genius of Jane Austen presents an Austen not of prim manners and genteel calm but filled with wild comedy and outrageous behaviour.

©2002, 2017 Paula Byrne (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"The best book on Jane Austen I have ever read." (Paul Johnson, The Spectator)

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