Susanna Clarke's excellent novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is written in a very convincing (at least to me) "19th-century literature" style. Not only the language used by the characters but also the sentence structure and storytelling style of the non-dialogue sections of the book feel very much like those of classical authors such as Austen, Hardy, or the Brontes.

Real connoisseurs of 19th-century literature will probably be shaking their heads at my lumping all of those authors together (so am I, to be honest). Hence my question: was there any specific classical author whose writing style inspired Clarke's style in Strange & Norrell?

Quotes from the author herself would probably be the best way of answering this, but if anyone can put together an answer based simply on textual analysis, I'll be mightily impressed.


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Corey Olsen discusses this a bit in his lecture series at Mythgard. (I strongly recommend it: he's quite gifted at close analysis, plus it's free.)

He notes that most people compare it to Jane Austen, since that's the Regency author that most people are familiar with. It does fit her style well, but that of many other Georgian authors as well. In sum, he considers it an amalgam of various common tropes, rather than a direct stylistic copy of any particular author.

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    +1, but this answer could be improved by including some info from the interview Bookeater linked to in comments, where Clarke actually talks a bit about her inspirations.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Feb 3, 2017 at 17:07
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    That would explain why I didn't care for Clarke; I don't care for Austen's style either. Feb 3, 2017 at 18:22
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    @LaurenIpsum: Yeah, Olsen goes on to talk about the long, elliptical style of the book. He considers that a feature, for the delicious way it echoes the actual writing of the period. But if you don't care for it, it's not gonna do you any good. In my personal experience I didn't get Austen at all until I saw the Ang Lee/Emma Thompson film of Sense & Sensibility. In high school I hated it because it was a satire of manners I'd never seen. Visualizing it helped it click. Feb 3, 2017 at 18:52

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