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In search of Austen's 'Missing Songs'

In search of Austen's 'Missing Songs'
In search of Austen's 'Missing Songs'
Jane Austen was a trained musician who regularly played and sang during much of her adult life, yet song has not figured prominently in understandings of her relation to literary tradition. Music was not only a polite entertainment, however, but provided Austen with a significant source of textual transmission and unique opportunities for critical engagement through performance. This study identifies three songs that Austen performed at Chawton after 1809, during the years she was drafting her late novels. They appear in music albums owned by the Austen family in the early 19th century, currently held in private collections that have until recently been unavailable to scholars. The songs set texts by Robert Burns, ‘Monk’ Lewis, and Claris de Florian, and all three treat the topic of fidelity within different generic and stylistic frameworks. I trace the literary sources of the poems and outline the musical networks of transmission through which Austen obtained them. I then examine the musical settings, investigating the affective aspects of performance and exploring how attention to this aspect of song illuminates Austen’s treatment of Burns in the "Sanditon" draft and her handling of themes of romance in Persuasion. I argue that resituating song within Austen’s intellectual and emotional landscape can not only generate new understandings of her relation to literary antecedents but also contribute new perspectives to long-debated questions of Austen’s relation to feeling.
0034-6551
914-945
Brooks, Laura Jeanice
4b254837-1e36-4869-9695-17000b6c5ff9
Brooks, Laura Jeanice
4b254837-1e36-4869-9695-17000b6c5ff9

Brooks, Laura Jeanice (2016) In search of Austen's 'Missing Songs'. The Review of English Studies, 67, 914-945. (doi:10.1093/res/hgw035).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Jane Austen was a trained musician who regularly played and sang during much of her adult life, yet song has not figured prominently in understandings of her relation to literary tradition. Music was not only a polite entertainment, however, but provided Austen with a significant source of textual transmission and unique opportunities for critical engagement through performance. This study identifies three songs that Austen performed at Chawton after 1809, during the years she was drafting her late novels. They appear in music albums owned by the Austen family in the early 19th century, currently held in private collections that have until recently been unavailable to scholars. The songs set texts by Robert Burns, ‘Monk’ Lewis, and Claris de Florian, and all three treat the topic of fidelity within different generic and stylistic frameworks. I trace the literary sources of the poems and outline the musical networks of transmission through which Austen obtained them. I then examine the musical settings, investigating the affective aspects of performance and exploring how attention to this aspect of song illuminates Austen’s treatment of Burns in the "Sanditon" draft and her handling of themes of romance in Persuasion. I argue that resituating song within Austen’s intellectual and emotional landscape can not only generate new understandings of her relation to literary antecedents but also contribute new perspectives to long-debated questions of Austen’s relation to feeling.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 27 February 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 13 April 2016
Organisations: Music

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 389780
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/389780
ISSN: 0034-6551
PURE UUID: 3112bbba-765d-4083-9d7b-d855919df4b2

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Date deposited: 15 Mar 2016 11:14
Last modified: 17 Dec 2019 06:54

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