Briefly Noted

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, by Helena Kelly (Knopf). Do we read Jane Austen’s novels as she intended? In this riveting literary-biographical study, the answer is a resounding no. Arguing that Austen wrote under “totalitarian” conditions and was obliged to veil her political messages, Kelly performs an interpretive coup that is dazzling, dizzying, and, occasionally, dubious. “Pride and Prejudice” is a parable of the French Revolution, with Darcy a member of the out-of-touch...

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