Publication Year



Literature, English, Austen, self-identity, society, culture


Comparative Literature | English Language and Literature | Social and Behavioral Sciences


As a person removes a novel from a shelf and brings it to his favorite sitting chair, he is bringing with him not only an author's description of reality but also his own interpretation of life. And as he begins to scan the title page, he is focusing on words from his own particular vantage point which is soundly based on historical and cultural influences as well as on his individual temperament. Thus, as the person begins the first chapter, he is involved, as the author was originally, in a process of creation--of defining meaning from a group of words, of connecting strokes of oil into a masterly painting, of transforming bits of reality into an ultimate truth. "Myself creating what I saw," said Emma of the Austen novel of that name; and, thereby, Jane Austen encapsulated man's mandatory need to recreate in himself the words, attitudes and philosophies he perceives in others. By the time the book is closed at the conclusion of the final chapter, the reader has further created a judgment as to whether the novel fits into his personal concept of life or into society's concept of reality. As a consequence of change in cultural interest, most novels fall into disuse. Yet, despite the society of rank which is described so accurately today, the six books have survived in the twentieth century. Because the novels do not fit into society's perception, they must succeed on the basis of the individual reader's personal concepts.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

English: Literature and Writing