chapter  3
Criticism
Pages 57

It is impossible to introduce every significant critical work on Austen in the space of a single chapter, and that is not what this part of the book attempts to do. Nor does it try to be a history of the critical reception of Austen from her own time to ours: see the introductions to Southam (1968a, 1987) for this. Rather, this part is structured around a series of issues which have been the focus of critical debate. It pays particular attention to those issues most hotly debated in the last fifteen years or so. The central three sections outline criticism informed by three of the most easily identifiable strains of contemporary critical thinking: the relation of writing to power informed variously by Karl Marx and Michel Foucault; feminism; and postcolonial theory. But the first section, on aspects of the style and narrative structure of the novels, cannot avoid critics who have their own theoretical commitments, and in particular those whose approach to Austen is informed by queer studies.