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Love And Friendship And Other Early Works

by Jane Austen

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Jane Austen's life is striking for the contrast between the great works she wrote in secret and the outward appearance of being quite dull and ordinary. Austen was born in the small English town of Steventon in Hampshire, and educated at home by her clergyman father. She was deeply devoted to her family. For a short time, the Austens lived in the resort city of Bath, but when her father died, they returned to Steventon, where Austen lived until her death at the age of 41. Austen was drawn to literature early, she began writing novels that satirized both the writers and the manners of the 1790's. Her sharp sense of humor and keen eye for the ridiculous in human behavior gave her works lasting appeal. She is at her best in such books as Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816), in which she examines and often ridicules the behavior of small groups of middle-class characters. Austen relies heavily on conversations among her characters to reveal their personalities, and at times her novels read almost like plays. Several of them have, in fact, been made into films. Fay Weldon was born in Worcester, England, where her father was a physician and her mother a writer. She was educated at the University of St. Andrews, from which she received her M.A. in 1954. Six years later, she married Ronald Weldon. Weldon worked as a propaganda writer for the British Foreign Office and then as an advertising copywriter for various firms in London before making writing a full-time career. Since the mid-1960's she has written novels, short stories, and radio and television plays. The central subject of all Weldon's writing is the experience of women, especially their relationships with men. According to Weldon, "Women must ask themselves: What is it that will give me fulfillment? That's the serious question I'm attempting to answer." Despite her concern with women, Weldon has been criticized by some feminist groups for apparently presenting fictional women with very limited options. Weldon's style is marked by a careful attention to detail, vivid images, a sharp wit, and a wry sense of humor. Although most of her male characters are disagreeable, they are not the true villains of her novels. Her villains are, in fact, the traditional roles that men and women play. Weldon looks at women in many different circumstances - at work, at home, at play, in politics, and especially in love - and shows not only how they are manipulated by men, but also how they allow themselves to be manipulated. Recently, Weldon's novel The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (1983) has been made into a popular movie. It was formerly a successful television miniseries.



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