content by

Claire Eliza Bartlett

The Joys of History and Academia in Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Once, when I was still pursuing an academic career as an Egyptologist, I was visiting some old friends who made the mistake of asking me about my studies and what I was working on. I launched into a long diatribe about the metaphorical significance of the shape of ancient Egyptian headrests and it was some minutes before I realized that everyone’s eyes had glazed over—and longer still before I found a way to wrap up my little TED talk and gracelessly shut my mouth. Today, it reminds me of a wonderful part of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, most specifically Strange’s misadventures in the Napoleonic Wars.

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Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing

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