An impeccably researched new book.
Matters of Fact in Jane Austen is unlike any previous work of Austen criticism, both in its attention to minute historical detail and in its pioneering claims... [It] is meticulously researched, beautifully written, highly original, and unquestionably timely. It ought to stimulate not just rousing arguments but provoke, too, further historically attuned Austen scholarship.
(Devoney Looser Los Angeles Review of Books
This is a book whose charm and clarity easily overcome any initial resistance one might have to its central claim that Austen’s work actively partakes in what historians now call 'celebrity culture'... One of Barchas’s most surprising—and ultimately convincing—claims is that Austen, like James Joyce after her, 'not only names her fictional characters with uncanny historical precision but maps them with equal care through historical settings'. She illustrates this with careful attention to Austen’s own historical reading and letters, prints of contemporary maps, portraits and country houses.
(Jonathan Sachs Times Literary Supplement
This is easily one of the most important books on Austen published in recent years, a must read. Thanks to fantastic volumes like this one... Austen's books are finally being read and reassessed in the context of their times and are no longer given the backhanded compliment of being called 'timeless'... Essential.
A provocative, suggestive, and original book which makes a genuine contribution to scholarship on Jane Austen... It is an excellent example of a truly interdisciplinary approach to literary criticism.
(Katie Halsey Review of English Studies
This is a huge achievement.
(Sarah Raff Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies
In a lively and formidably informed study, Janine Barchas buries the lingering myth of Jane Austen as 'a cloistered rectory daughter,' and convincingly reconstructs her as 'a local and national historian'—and moreover a confirmed name-dropper who subtly manipulates the celebrity culture of her day.
(Juliet McMaster, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta)
Renovating the historicist pedantry of readers like Vladimir Nabokov, who plotted geographical locales and estimated room dimensions in the margins of his teaching copy of Mansfield Park, Janine Barchas remaps the coordinates of Austen’s fictive world as nodal points in a network of real names of glamorous places and people—Wentworth, Wodehouse, D’Arcy, and Fitzwilliam among them. Matters of Fact in Jane Austen is too modest a title for this prescient book, in which facts matter as markers of Austen’s creative method, authorizing the vividness of her charismatically alluring characters and plots.
(Joseph Roach, Sterling Professor of Theater and English, Yale University, and author of It
The author seeks to pull Austen away from her timelessness... Jane is not just a keen observer of those 3 or 4 families but of all the aristocracy famous or scandalous enough to make the papers. … In a world where feminine accomplishments and interests are still denigrated and marginalized, it’s important to pull Jane out of the parlor.
Moving away from domesticity and beyond broad socialhistory, Matters of Fact in Jane Austen proceeds as a series of detailed case studies that, takentogether, make a strong argument for Austen as a popular culture aficionado and for scholars’attachment to her vaunted "timelessness" as a disservice to her powers of observation andallusion.
(Laura E. Thomason, Middle Georgia State College ABO: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts