The European reception of Jane Austen’s works

David Owen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review


This article reviews the reception of Jane Austen’s works (principally her six major novels) in Europe, essentially through translation; in keeping with critical consensus, the article proposes that translation is the principal —though not the sole—channel through which Austen’s European reception has been consolidated since the early nineteenth century. The article draws on reception-based studies, both quantitative and qualitative, to delineate the history, frequency, language range and literary characteristics of the translations carried out in the two centuries following Austen’s death. It contextualises the paucity of early nineteenth-century translation within the broader framework of Austen’s own reputation in the English-speaking world and highlights a range of additional factors accounting for Austen’s relative lack of early success in Europe. The discussion then goes on to consider the underlying factors that influence the significant increase in the translation of Austen’s works in the twentieth century, factors that include the growth of English as a lingua franca, to the detriment of French. It concludes that Austen’s European reception mirrors in a fairly direct manner the author’s reception in the literary world of the UK/US.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)15-27
Number of pages13
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Cultural transmission
  • European reception
  • Jane Austen
  • Literary canonicity
  • Translation

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