Criticising Jane

With the new Jane Austen kind-of-a-biopic out at cinemas, the BBC has an article on the enduring appeal of her novels. It includes biting criticism such as:

“I think she betrays her time and I’m always gob smacked by what she ignored,” says Celia Brayfield, author and lecturer at Brunel University. “She focused on such a narrow strain of human reality. Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t the Napoleonic War going on at the time when she was writing, she doesn’t mention it.[…]”

I’m amazed at what critics can say with a straight face: JA writing romantic novels was a betrayal of her time. Maybe she has a point. If the new Harry Potter novel doesn’t mention Iraq, I’ll arrange a boycott. Later we have insights from the ex-editor of Nuts magazine. You might be temped to make assumptions about his views of women based on this, but don’t be so hasty. He is, after all, an Austen fan:

“She is fun, dry, ironic – as funny as any male writer out there,”

Praise indeed.