Halsey K (2023) 'Possessing a most exquisite taste in every species of literature': Reading, Moral Taste and Creative Action in Jane Austen's Novels. In: The Edinburgh Companion to Jane Austen and the Arts. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/
In Henry Austen’s ‘Biographical Notice of the Author’, written shortly after Jane Austen’s death in 1817, he dwells briefly on her artistic talents, focussing on her drawing, music and dancing, and then moving on to discuss her talent for reading aloud (which she did ‘with very great taste and effect’) and her reading choices (in which Henry emphasized ‘the natural discrimination of her mind’ and her excellent and judicious taste). Henry’s account was expanded and embroidered by James Edward Austen-Leigh in his own 1870 Memoir of Jane Austen, and in both cases, Austen’s male relatives interestingly align the practice of reading with the creative arts (music, drawing, dancing, embroidery, and writing), in the service of creating an overall picture of Jane Austen’s ‘exquisite taste’ in all things.
In this chapter, I consider Austen’s reading as a kind of artistic practice both in its own right, and in relation to her writing practices.
Jane Austen, Creative Process, Reading, Intertextuality, Writing
Output Status: Forthcoming