Rachel Cohen | Jane Austen

#APStogether March 25, 2021

In Persuasion, mourning and renewal are not separate. Jane Austen (1775–1817) finished this novel during her own last illness and it has a quality of reflection all its own. Anne Elliot, living quietly in the country, has lost people she loves, and a chance at love, but as she moves once again into a broader world—a world of friendship, imagination, and of the wide seas toward the end of the Napoleonic Wars—life begins for her for a second time. This April, when we all will be living with losses, and, we hope, imagining entering the world again, come read the Austen novel in which, Virginia Woolf said, “we also feel that [Austen] is trying to do something that she has never yet attempted.” In her creation, Anne Elliot, a careful reader and rereader, Austen offers a friend and companion to her own readers, the ones she imagined, us.

Rachel Cohen is the author of three books about writers and artists, most recently Austen Years: A Memoir in Five Novels (FSG). She is professor of practice in the arts in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Chicago.

André Wenzel, research librarian at the University of Chicago Libraries, has put together a resource for the APS Together book club on Jane Austen that includes links to databases, articles, and other information related to Persuasion. You can find it here.

Jane Austen (December 1775 – July 1817) was a great English novelist of the nineteenth century. She is known primarily for her six major novels, including Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry.

Reading Schedule:

Day 1 (April 19) | Ch. 1-3

Day 2 (April 20) | Ch. 4-5

Day 3 (April 21) | Ch. 6-7

Day 4 (April 22) | Ch. 8-9

Day 5 (April 23) | Ch. 10-11

Day 6 (April 24) | Ch. 12

Day 7 (April 25) | Volume II, Ch. 1-3

Day 8 (April 26) | Volume II, Ch. 4-5

Day 9 (April 27) | Volume II, Ch. 6-7

Day 10 (April 28) | Volume II, Ch. 8 and part of Ch. 9 up to “in whatever pleasure the concert of last night might afford:--not Mr. Elliot; it is not Mr. Elliot that—”

Day 11 (April 29) | Volume II, Ch. 9 beginning with “Do tell me how it first came into your head.”

Day 12 (April 30) | Volume II, Ch. 10.

Day 13 (May 1) | Volume II, Ch. 11

Day 14 (May 2) | Volume II, final chapter Ch. 12 and Appendix of Draft Version of Final Chapters of Persuasion (which can be provided for those reading an edition where it is not included.)

May 6 | A virtual discussion of Persuasion with Rachel Cohen. Register—and submit questions here.

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