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Literary Collections Essays

Jane Austen Sings the Blues

edited by Nora Stovel

with Graham Guest & Grant Stovel

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2009
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2009
    List Price

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Bruce Stovel championed Jane Austen studies and blues music with equal measures of expertise and passion. The outpouring of affection at the celebration of Bruce's life and at a subsequent musical tribute inspired the plan for a book that would celebrate Bruce as teacher, Austen scholar, and blues aficionado. Jane Austen Sings the Blues gathers essays by established Austen scholars (Margaret Drabble, Isobel Grundy, Juliet McMaster, and Peter Sabor) and some of his exemplary students, together with blues lyrics, poetry, and memoir. The companion CD features some of Bruce's favourite blues performers (Ann Rabson, Maurice John Vaughn, Graham Guest, and many others).

About the authors

Nora Foster Stovel is Professor of English at the University of Alberta, where she teaches twentieth-century literature and Canadian women's fiction. She has published books and articles on Jane Austen, D.H. Lawrence, Margaret Drabble, Carol Shields, and Margaret Laurence, most recently Divining Margaret Laurence: A Study of Her Complete Writings.

Nora Stovel's profile page

Graham Guest is an Edmonton-based musician, singer, songwriter, producer, and broadcaster. Within his wide spectrum of experiences in the music life, Graham has learned the blues music craft first hand. A multi-faceted twenty-year association and friendship with Dr. Bruce Stovel led to his involvement with this project.

Graham Guest's profile page

Grant Stovel is a drummer, producer, and radio host who lives in Edmonton. The son of Dr. Bruce Stovel, Grant cherishes the years in which they enjoyed blues music together and co-hosted a weekly radio program. His participation in this project is a continuation of his father's passions.

Grant Stovel's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Stovel, who earned his PhD magna cum laude from Harvard in 1971, was also held in high esteem in the national roots music community, particularly those working in the blues scene. His deep knowledge and love of blues music translated into his work booking blues artists into the Yardbird Suite, and handling publicity for major blues shows, including the Labatt Blues Festival in its formative years.... Alongside Rabson's tune are offerings from local blues artists Kat Danser, Larry Lever, Bobby Cameron and Tim Lee. Artists from other Canadian cities jumped at the chance to contribute, Tim Williams, Big Dave McLean and Michael Jerome Brown among them. American artists who laid down tracks, while playing engagements in Edmonton, were Chicago singer and guitarist Maurice John Vaughn and guitarist Vann Shaw. [Grant] Stovel and [Graham] Guest echoed the sentiment that they 'just wanted to make a great blues record he would have liked.' 'There's a personal connection between all of these artists and Bruce. He heard some of the musicians who are on the disc hundreds of times,' added Guest, who played on a number of tracks." Peter North, Edmonton Journal, June 9, 2009

"The book has become a loving tribute to a man known for his sense of humor, love of comedy, and sensitivity to art and music. The essays range from touching personal remembrances by friends and former students-notably 'Phantasmagoric' by Amanda Ash and 'Sense and Sense-Ability' by Heidi L. Janz-to academic works by such prominent scholars and writers as Peter Sabor and Margaret Drabble. And then there's the musical component: poetry and musings on blues by writers like J.N. Nodelman, Peter North, and Roger Levesque, to name a few. And what good book on music doesn't come with a soundtrack? Stovel's son (and Calling All Blues co-host) Grant Stovel and musician friend Graham Guest have produced a companion CD featuring original songs written by many of Stovel's favorite blues artists." Marliss Weber, SEE Magazine, July 23, 2009 [Full article at]

"Jane Austen Sings the Blues is a tribute volume of forty-two essays and poems.... Like the blues themselves, this Festschrift with a difference is both lament and celebration for Bruce Stovel." Jocelyn Harris, University of Otago

"Foster Stovel also edited Jane Austen Sings the Blues, but the book is truly a collaborative effort, featuring contributions from family, friends, students and associates of the late Stovel.... Foster Stovel pondered what her husband's reaction might be to the fusing of his two passions. 'It's something he certainly would not have done for himself, being a very modest person,' she said. 'I think he'd be delighted with it.'" Beth Storheim, The Gateway, October 21, 2009

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