A Most Luxurious State: Men and Music in Jane Austen’s Novels

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    Abstract

    In Jane Austen’s novels, musicianship is mainly the preserve of the female sex. The main role of the true gentleman, as far as musicianship is concerned, is to be an appreciative listener. The mark of a hero is listening with enjoyment and attention to the woman who has attracted his interest. More than once, this is the shortest route to falling in love. In the late Georgian period, English masculinity was in crisis, as a result of various social and historical pressures, including the Enlightenment, the rise of the merchant classes, and the long-lasting European wars. Various models of masculinity were proposed by writers throughout the eighteenth century, in parallel with the models of femininity endorsed in the female conduct literature of the time. In this paper I explore the interplay of music and masculinity which resulted in the marginalisation of musical practice in the life of the English gentleman in the society of the time, and how that is reflected in Austen’s fiction.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)598-607
    Number of pages10
    JournalEnglish Studies
    Volume98
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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