'All histories are against you?': family history, domestic history and the feminine past in Northanger Abbey and Persuasion

Mary Spongberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

The famous exchange between Anne Elliot, the heroine of Persuasion, and Captain Harville, where he asserts that ‘all histories are against you’, has become for many the key to understanding Jane Austen’s particular view of history. Most critics contend that Anne Elliot is voicing the view of the mature Austen, an author at the height of her powers, well placed to defend feminine modes of narration. Reading Anne Elliot’s statements as Austen’s views usually involves comparing Anne’s opinions with those of Austen’s ‘first’ heroine, Catherine Morland, who decried ‘real solemn history’ in Northanger Abbey. While certain critics have identified in Catherine Morland a refusal on the young Austen’s part to take history seriously, the words of Anne Elliot have been read as a passionate refusal of masculinist history. As Stuart Curran has astutely observed, Anne’s ‘sharp observation […] has often been taken as a characteristically oblique expression’ of Austen’s ‘feminism as well as a defense of her singular craft’ (1993, 177).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReading historical fiction
Subtitle of host publicationthe revenant and remembered past
EditorsKate Mitchell, Nicola Parsons
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages50-66
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781137291547
ISBN (Print)9780230343139
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of ''All histories are against you?': family history, domestic history and the feminine past in Northanger Abbey and Persuasion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this