Music is everywhere and nowhere in Jane Austen’s fiction. Everywhere, in that pivotal scenes in every novel unfurl to the sound of music; nowhere, in that she almost never specifies exactly what music is being performed.
For film adaptations this absence of detail can be a source of welcome freedoms, since the imaginative gap can be variously filled by choosing more or less appropriate historical repertoire or by commissioning a new score, depending on the desired tone and effect of the scene. For cultural historians of music and literature, however, it can be a stumbling block in understanding both how music fed Austen’s creative imagination and how her novels illuminate the musical culture of her day.
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