Article: Which is the greatest Jane Austen novel?

In this article published in The Guardian to mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, famous writers make the case for different novels, and even juvenilia.  It is indeed ‘a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of the greatest English novelists’ (The Guardian, 2017); however, it could be argued that not all her books have the same share of greatness within them.

My own favourite is Pride and Prejudice. Not only for all the reasons Clare Tomalin declares in her piece in the article, but mostly for the subtle but devastating critique of social expectations and stereotypes Austen applies to her portion of society. Pride and Prejudice has constantly been  ̶  and rightly so  ̶  the focus of feminist readings and the subject of New Historicist critics interested in the roles and position of women in the nineteenth century. Yet, those interested in exploring male roles and stereotypes as well as expectations and social pressures on men in the same period will find no less fascinating material in the novel.  Moreover, Austen’s sharp judgment and acute view of her world also appear in her dealing with the impacts of war on society, not at the grand political and military levels, but how war affects families, communities, and relationships.

Read the article here

For the British Council lesson plans and materials on Jane Austen’s novels, click here

For more on Jane Austen, visit the British Library Discovering Literature here