What Matters in Jane Austen
What are the right and wrong ways to propose marriage? How old is Mr Collins? And why is it risky to go to the seaside? One of the delights of reading Jane Austen is noticing the puzzles she sets her readers. In 20 succinct chapters, Mullan asks and answers a number of apparently superficial questions about Austen’s world, to demonstrate how its rituals and conventions reveal her technical virtuosity and sheer daring as a novelist.
A Secret History of English Literature
Few modern readers know that when Gulliver's Travels and Sense and Sensibility first appeared, the public had to guess their authors' identities. Yet many great writers, from John Donne to Sylvia Plath, from the Bronte sisters to Doris Lessing, chose to conceal their identity. Mullan's witty, lucid and engaging survey probes the reasons that lay behind literary anonymity, asks what is was like to read a book without knowing who wrote it, and amusingly recounts the guessing games the practice inspired. Slightly off-mint.