Essays in Romanticism

Admiration and Disapprobation: Jane Austen’s Emma (1816) and Jane West’s Ringrove (1827)

Essays in Romanticism (2019), 26, (1), 41–54.

Abstract

It is widely accepted that Jane Austen’s fiction was influenced by the novels of her writer contemporaries. Jane West’s A Gossip’s Story (1796) has long been seen as inspiring, negatively and positively, elements of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (1811). In this essay, I turn the tables to look at influence traveling in the other direction: Austen’s impact on West, as seen through a reading of the plot of her critically neglected last novel, Ringrove, or, Old-Fashioned Notions (1827). Taken together, Austen’s first novel and West’s last one show evidence of what we might call a mutual admiration—and a mutual disapprobation—society. Recognizing this multi-directional impact offers the potential for reaching new conclusions about the methods and legacies of both authors, particularly in terms of the politics of gender and class.

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Author details

Looser, Devoney