Personal and Political Transformation in the Texts of Jane Austen

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Addresses the rich array of past and current scholarship and explores a new angle: Jane Austen’s idea of personal reform precipitating societal transformation. It presents the ways in which she explores the complex nature of transformation through her inversion of the commonly held definitions of masks, mirrors and mirages – a trio not explored by other scholars and critics. As a subversive conservative, Austen seems most interested in examining the middle space existent in the nature of transformation.


“Dr. Giardetti’s placement of Jane Austen within the context of her French contemporaries and the political discourse of the day creates exciting new readings of Austen’s works. Moreover, her analysis of Austen by such concepts as mirrors, masking, and mirages strikes at a set of tropes that are thoroughly used by Austen, but have not been thoroughly analyzed by critics. Her work with these tropes again offers new perspectives on Austen’s fiction….I feel this will be a significant contribution to Austen studies.” – Malcolm Hayward, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, editor of Studies in the Humanities

“Using masks, mirrors and mirages as governing metaphors, Giardetti discusses Austen and her works firmly in relation to Austen’s own context and in the context of contemporary criticism. But her discussion suggests more. If some Austen criticism is perhaps too much like Mr. Bennett – more at home in the library than in life – the same cannot be said about Giardetti’s Transformation; like Austen and her work, it is equally at home in both.” – Dr. Brian Larsen, Simpson College

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Preface; Introduction
1. 1. Setting the Stage: England and France; Austen and the French Revolution; The Wider Debate – Burke and Paine; Literary Discourse and Historical Happenings
2. Masks that Reveal: Learning to Mask – Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey; Drastic Measures – Comparisons and Contrasts in Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion; Socio-Political Underpinnings – Emma and Mansfield Park
3. Mirrors that Conceal: Reflecting on Mirrors; Mirrors in Austen’s Juvenilia; Reflection and the Fine Art of (Mis)reading: Persuasion; Emma, Pride and Prejudice; and Lady Susan; The Enemy Without vs. the Enemy Within; Mr. Mirror
4. Mirages that Are Real: History and Literature – Separate but Equal?; Flashes of Light – Northanger Abbey and Jane Austen’s Letters; Parallels and Symmetries – Love and Friendship and Emma
5. Conclusion: then and Now – Austen’s History of England and Sanditon; Endings and Beginnings
Bibliography; Index

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