Happy birthday to the queen of romantic fiction, Jane Austen (December 16, 1775 - July 18, 1817).
The English novelist was born 240 years ago and is still today a subject of great fascination among readers and critics. Due to “the small world and small concerns of her characters”, “good quiet aunt Jane” was hardly considered an innovative author by her contemporaries, but more than a few influential voices among scholars and fellow writers have argued that her work features a strong pioneering quality in the way of experimental narrative techniques (third-person narration and free indirect speech) and themes that challenged the Romantic and Victorian expectations.
In occasion of her 240th birth anniversary, I would like to share an interesting fact about her most popular novel of manners.
The title of Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813) may have been inspired by a passage at the end of "Cecilia: Memoires Of An Heiress" by Frances Burney (1782) :
“Yet this, however, remember: if to pride and prejudice you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to pride and prejudice you will also owe their termination.”
Austen is known to have admired Frances Burney (literary references to Burney’s popular novel, Cecilia, can be found also in Austen’s Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion) and this two novelists of manners have frequently been compared to each other for their satirical bent, but what sets them apart is the fact that Austen’s work does not contain any of Burney’s dark tones and picaresque elements. Jane Austen remains the master of love, match-making, and ‘happily ever after’.