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A Portrait of Jane Austen (1978)

von David Cecil

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329262,276 (3.76)2
The late 18th century world in which Jane Austen lived was one that combined good sense, elegant manners, intelligence and piety with a liberal dash of spirited fun. Drawing on Jane Austen's letters, novels, and other people's memories of her, David Cecil sets out to reconstruct and depict her living personality and to explore it in relation to her art. The portrait that emerges is of a clear-sighted, observant, strong-minded woman whose witty and ironic representation of her own society has delighted millions of readers for centuries.… (mehr)
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I have a terrible track record with biographies. I have found that there is no subject so fascinating that a good biographer can't suck all the life out of their story with a dry presentation of dates and facts. I rarely finish one.

But I LOVED this so much. I think that's because it wasn't really a biography, a distinction made clear by the title. It's a "portrait" painted in loving words by a man clearly enthralled with Jane Austen, as any sensible person should be. Using her surviving letters, drawings of places she lived, portraits of her friends and family, published recollections of her contemporaries, and known facts about her life, David Cecil provides an engrossing account of what it was like to be Jane Austen, and to live in her world at that time.

And I am happy to learn that her life seems to have been a very good one. She was fortunate to have lived in relative comfort; though never married she was always surrounded and supported by a close, witty, and fun-loving family. As a young girl she enjoyed some of the same activities and places that she describes in her books - dances and balls, walking in the beautiful countryside, visiting acquaintances, trips to Bath and Lyme, etc. Although we know her work was not autobiographical, you definitely get glimpses of how different people, places and events inspired her.

If you are a Jane Austen fan I highly recommend this. It was just lovely. ( )
  AngeH | Jan 2, 2020 |
The late 18th century world in which Jane Austen lived was one that combined good sense, elegant manners, intelligence and piety with a liberal dash of spirited fun. Drawing on Jane Austen's letters, novels, and other people's memories of her, David Cecil sets out to "reconstruct and depict her living personality and to explore it in relation to her art". The portrait that emerges is of a clear-sighted, observant, strong-minded woman whose witty and ironic representation of her own society has pleased millions of readers for centuries.
1 abstimmen antimuzak | Sep 17, 2007 |
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The late 18th century world in which Jane Austen lived was one that combined good sense, elegant manners, intelligence and piety with a liberal dash of spirited fun. Drawing on Jane Austen's letters, novels, and other people's memories of her, David Cecil sets out to reconstruct and depict her living personality and to explore it in relation to her art. The portrait that emerges is of a clear-sighted, observant, strong-minded woman whose witty and ironic representation of her own society has delighted millions of readers for centuries.

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