Author: Peter Leithart
ISBN: 978-1-59555-302-7

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In this theologically grounded non-fiction approach to one of the leading English novelists of the 19th century, Leithart reveals his appreciation of the mastery of the drawing room milieu by this pre-eminent literary historian of manners. Her insight into her characters was remarkable for the times in which she lived. So universal are they that they live on till this day, featured in countless television and film remakes, prequels and sequels. In his introduction to Christian Encounters: Jane Austen Leithart stresses that “the whole point of an Austen novel is to record the ironic discrepancies between surface and reality, to express social masks as masks.” He provides a brief overview of “Janeia”, the plethora of publications and reworked versions that have stemmed from Austen’s most notable works: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, and Sense and Sensibility. Leithart attributes the perennial appeal of Austen’s work to her minimization of contemporary references, which lends her novels a sense of timelessness.

Leithart asserts that, in this relatively brief biography of 153 pages, he has attempted to reveal the many different sides to Austen’s character. His holistic portrayal of the novelist is an attempt “to depict accurately the depth and sincerity of her Christianity, as well as her Anglican discomfort with religious emotion, but without losing sight of the other sides of her complex character—her playfulness, her satiric gift for ridicule, her ‘waspishness’, her rigid morality.”

Leithart’s conversational and colloquial style renders this biography a gentle introduction to the world and writings of this Regency novelist. Though his approach highlights the Christian aspects of the writer’s work and life, his approach is not at all polemic, as he emphasizes the humanity and humaneness breathing forth from her accurate portrayals of small town and rural middle-class and landed gentry life at the start of the 19th century.

Christian Encounters: Jane Austen is well researched, and contains many excerpts from other works about Jane Austen, as well as extracts from her own correspondence. As a distinguished author and theologian in his own right, Leithart is well positioned to have written such an informative biography. In addition to the main text of this book, he also includes an annotated alphabetical listing of Austen’s family, friends and neighbors, lists the characters in Austen’s novels, and notes the sources on which he draws.

Christian Encounters: Jane Austen should find a wide readership among all those interested in the author’s work, as well as among those who are interested in the faith aspects of this author’s life and works.  

 Click Here To Purchase Jane Austen (Christian Encounters Series)