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Persuasion
by Jane Austin

Synopsis:
Mired in poverty, the student Raskolnikov nevertheless thinks well of himself. Of his pawnbroker he takes a different view, and in deciding to do away with her he sets in motion his own tragic downfall. Dostoyevsky's penetrating novel of an intellectual whose moral compass goes haywire, and the detective who hunts him down for his terrible crime, is a stunning psychological portrait, a thriller and a profound meditation on guilt and retribution.
 

14 133 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/15/1999 5:22:07 PM "In August, Classics Corner will discuss Jane Austen's Persuasion. This is my personal Austen favorite, although I read Pride and Prejudice and Sensibility so many years ago that rereads may be in order.

Persuasion is the story of a woman's second chance at love. Sound like a romance novel? Not exactly. Jane Austen's wit keeps it far above that level, but I do think it is romantic. I devoured this one after I saw the movie a couple of years ago. Both the movie and book were special treats that complemented each other. I later recommended the movie to my sister and her friends who rented it and proceeded to fall asleep, so I can't guarantee that it will be everyone's cup of tea, but it sure was mine.

This is another short one, folks. I hope many of you will be able to join the discussion.

Ann
" 14 214 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/15/1999 6:35:49 PM "I have been very much looking forward to this selection. It contains a marked depth and maturity, which aren't missing from her other novels but are even more evident in Persuasion. I look forward to discussing this and many other aspects of the novel!

In honour of the occasion, I even went out and finally purchased an omnibus edition of all her novels. Like Pringles, who can stop at just one? :)

Katie
""Everything in moderation, EXCEPT for reading.""
" 14 80 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/16/1999 4:45:28 PM "I just got the ""complete novels"" set at the library! Looking forward to it.
Elaine
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/16/1999 7:47:22 PM "I'm through the first 100 pages of Persuasion and loving it. I discovered Austen late in life reading Emma with Classics Corner. For some reason, I never thought she would be my cuppa, as Ruth says. Now, she qualifies as a ""comfort book."" I love sinking into all those characters and her dry humor.

I still haven't read Pride and Prejudice. Ann, I thought you read it with CC in its earliest days. Was that before you joined in? I was lurking but didn't read the book with them.

Barb...who is using Microsoft Network on my husband's relatively new computer...boy, does this one run faster than the one I usually use!!
" 14 107 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/20/1999 4:45:42 PM "I discovered Jan Austen on the Classics Corner and enjoyed Emma. Hope I will find a copy at home or at the library. Yes Barb, Jane Austen has a dry humor all right.
Ernie
" 14 98 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/22/1999 6:13:00 PM "I've never managed to get more than a fraction of the way through a Jane Austen novel, but I'll give this one a serious try.

It's probably a guy thing.

>>Grouchy in So. Calif., who hopes that Mark Twain's opinion of Jane Austen is not correct
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/22/1999 7:25:13 PM "Oh good, Kent, give it an extra hard effort. I actually think that this may be Austen's most enjoyable for me. And, it goes very quickly so, if you're not sure about her writing, this is the one to try.

Barb

" 14 304 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/24/1999 7:22:46 PM "For years I tried to read Jane Austen and failed. Golly gee! It was a classic! It was English! Loads of writers, English and American, admired her! But it never 'clicked' until maybe my fifties (which I do not offer as the magic age). Then I could not understand why I had let all those years go by. Now I own them all (a nice English published set) and think of them as some of my favorite comfort books.

For Grouchy, I would offer that JA is really one well salted mess of pottage. She has her eye on the ball and her tongue in her cheek.

(Gee! See what you can do without originality.)

PRES
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/25/1999 1:26:50 AM "I could have sworn I not only own Pride and Prejudice, but Persuasion as well, but I can't find either of them. Could it be because my cleaning lady has dusted all the books in the living room and rearranged them neatly in descending size?

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 98 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/25/1999 4:11:33 AM "I'm sorry, gang, but I simply cannot read this stuff–at least not via the audiobook version I checked out of the library. I’ve made an honest effort, but it's no go. As in my previous attempts to get into Jane Austen's books, my mind simply refuses to stop wandering.

On my drive home Friday night, I decided I'd better give up (for the time being, at least) before I fell asleep and ran off the road. I pulled the Persuasion tape out of the cassette player and popped in the first cassette of Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt. The change was as if someone suddenly turned on the lights and tuned in the radio properly: Suddenly I found that I could visualize the characters being described and focus on the story (which, incidentally, starts off about as slowly as Persuasion).

I don't mean to criticize Austen or belittle those who enjoy reading her books. I simply cannot overcome my personal aversion to them. I said before I thought it might be a “guy” thing. Am I right? I don't know. (Being in my fifties don’t help, either, Pres.)

Was Mark Twain right? Here’s one of his most caustic remarks about Jane Austen (there were others):

“I could read [Edgar Allan Poe’s] prose on salary, but not Jane [Austen]'s. Jane is entirely impossible. It seems a great pity that they allowed her to die a natural death.” (From a 1909 letter to W. D. Howells)

>>Grouchy in So. Calif.
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/25/1999 7:32:06 AM "Part of your problem might have been the recorded version, Kent. Did you borrow the Recorded Books production? If so, I think that the reader they use for Austen, Flo Gibson, is terrible. She may be the only Recorded Books reader that I don't like...and this is the first time I've searched for a Books on Tape, Inc. or Blackstone version. Unfortunately, all my local libraries are choosing RB for Austen. Books on Tape, Inc. used an excellent reader, Donada Peters, for a biography of Austen that I read. I keep hoping that I'll find her reading Austen's books somewhere.

In any case, we'll miss you for this one but Kafka's, The Trial is coming up for September.

Barb
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/25/1999 10:17:02 AM "Kent,
Thanks for making the effort. I don't think Austen's books lend themselves to books on tape. That wordy, nineteenth century writing style require more concentration. But then, my mind wanders too much for most books on tape, so I may be no judge. On the other hand, when I sit down with a book in hand, I can lose myself completely.

Barb, what do you think about listening to classics on tape? Didn't you ""read"" Austen's EMMA that way? I never would have got through OTHELLO without the tape and I ended up loving it, but in that case, I followed along with the text as I read it. I hadn't read Shakespeare since high school and the actor's readings made the meaning of the text so much clearer.

Ruth, my copy of PERSUASION totally disappeared, so I bought the Everyman Library version.

My word, arranging books by SIZE!!!!! If your cleaning lady felt compelled to touch them, couldn't she at least have organized them by author or title?

Ann


" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/25/1999 1:22:13 PM "Carefully and exactly by size, Ann. Didn't matter if some of the books were upside down, or if Solzhenitzen ended up next to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, or the Harper Dictionary of Modern Thought beside Songs for Swinging Housemothers.

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/25/1999 2:13:42 PM "Ann,
I think that I read Emma. However, I'm sure that I listened to Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility on tape. I tend to sort of like Austen on tape because you can let her language sort of flow over you. I don't find it necessary to read each word individually. However, I also think that I get a much better reading of her when I do it visually.

In general, I feel that way about most classics on tape. It gives me a chance to read things that I might not get around to otherwise. However, if I really want to do a close reading, I need to do it visually. A huge factor here though is that I'm driving, working in the yard, etc. when I listen to tapes. When I read, that is the only thing that I'm doing.

Barb
" 14 98 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/25/1999 4:36:20 PM "Ann and Barb,

I think you are right in suspecting that my problem with Jane Austen's books has been in trying to listen to them on tape while driving. I'm not sure, however, if the problem lies mostly in the reader, Flo Gibson. I would agree that Gibson ranks low among Recorded Books, Inc.'s usually steller readers (I've bailed out on her readings twice); however, I also bailed out on an (abridged) Austen reading by Lynn Redgrave, and I ranked Donada Peters low on the one book I heard her read.

As I've discussed on the board before, this whole business of comparing audiobook and printed-book ""reading"" has interested me for many years. It's something that I think about almost constantly while listening to audiobooks. I do almost all my audiobook listening while I'm driving, so the background conditions are generally the same while I listen to books. (However, there can be a big difference between listening to a book in commuter traffic and listening to it on a long, relaxed highway trip.)

After listening to more than 200 unabridged books, I still find it difficult to pinpoint what makes reading and listening to the same books different. It's not strictly a matter of one form being superior to the other, or even of one form being better for ""focusing"" on a book than the other. For example, while I've given up on listening to recordings of Jane Austen books three times because I couldn't focus on them, I found it easier to get through Mark Twain's Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (the subject of a current thread in CR, by the way) on tape than on the page.

To put this matter more simply, there are many times when a book to which I've listened seems every bit as vivid and clear in my mind as a book I've enjoyed right off the printed pages.

If there is a central difference between reading a book off pages and listening to someone else read it to me (especially if I'm driving while listening), it lies in the complexity of the narrative. My overwhelming preference is for novels with strong, narrowly focused narratives--preferably those centering on a single character. With all the distractions of the road and of interrupting the narrative while driving, it is simply easier to concentrate on a story if it follows one character.

In my last note, I compared listening to Persuasion with listening to Babbitt. As I noted, both books start slowly, describing characters and relationships, and nothing much happens for some time. A major difference between them is that Austen's book starts off describing (or so it seemed to me; I couldn't keep track) of about a dozen different characters, while Sinclair Lewis's book focuses on one character, George Babbitt. Babbitt also works in descriptions of other characters, but all these descriptions emphasize those characters' relationships to Babbitt himself.

Persuasion doesn't do that. It begins with a description of Sir Walter Elliot, then branches off to talk about his daughters, the Musgroves, Captain Wentworth, and others ... soon leaving me behind.

Now, I really didn't mean to imply that my abandoning of the book was a condemnation of it. It might well be that if I were to sit down under a shady tree, a cool, unaspartamed drink in my hand, I might be able really to get into the book. In fact, I can imagine myself pausing to reflect on the relationships among the characters and occasionally even turning back a page or two to review an earlier passage before moving on. Aside from the cool drink, these are things one cannot do (or at least cannot do easily) while listening to the same book on tape--especially while driving.

Listening to a book being read can, however, force one to pay closer attention to passages than one might give them while reading a print copy. Indeed, whenever I listen to a book with which I am already familiar, I often notice passages that I seem to have overlooked before. The last ten or so chapters of Huckleberry Finn are a case in point. Scholars are forever trying to make sense out of them (and recall that Hemingway suggested skipping that part of the book), and many readers tend to race through them. When one listens to the book being read, however, one is almost forced to pay attention.

Getting back to Austen, I can see that I need a time when I can sit down and pay attention to her writing. Unfortunately, I have so little free time for relaxed, unhurried reading--apart from the time I spend listening to books while driving--that I don't see that happening for a while.

I meant well.

>>Grouchy in So. Calif., who, incidentally, plans to use that line as the epitaph on his tombstone
" 14 173 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/25/1999 11:34:56 PM "Hello All--

The notion that Austen is gentile has always baffled me a little: it's a bit like saying a gun does less damage when a silencer is attached. Her ideas were probing, restless, and, at times, savage. There's a moment in Persuasion when Anne is reflecting on the injury of one of the characters and she secretly hopes that Wentworth will see in the disaster a lesson, that a headstrong, unpersuadable person will sometimes damage themselves, whereas a person with large mental perspective (Anne) will hold back from danger. This moment when the 'good' person Anne is almost glad of an injury to someone else if it helps show her in a better light to Wentworth is painfully truthful in a no-holds-barred kind of way. Perhaps Austen was showing how human events are generally pure when they move quickly, and corrupted when we have time to think about them. Love, after all, is a slow-motion crisis (at least in Anne's case.) A novelist using her thoughts to expose the poisonous nature of thought itself is, I think, persuasively cynical and anything but gentle.

George
" 14 58 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/26/1999 9:09:07 AM "George: I love the line, ""Love is a slow-motion crisis."" Got to be a book title, there.{G}

I'm only a few chapters into Persuasion as yet, but can safely say I can't imagine experiencing the book via audiotape. I have to read Austen closely and slowly, to pick out the wicked between-the-lines humor in such an outwardly formal and mannered diction. But delicious, all the same. At least, when I'm in the mood for it. I feel somewhat the same way about Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence and others.

This week the Lehrer Report on PBS interviewed several novelists (including Richard Ford) on the Hemingway centennial, and they discussed his contention that good writing was like an iceberg...""nine-tenths of its power is hidden in what's not said.""

And while I'd never claim Austen's writing is like Hemingway's, I think the iceberg theory is probably why her style works, and why it's held up so well over the years. Don't I recall that Austen and the Brontes were Virginia Woolf's favorite novelists?

You just gotta love lines such as, ""It was a much safer place for a gentleman in his predicament: he might there be important at comparatively little expense."" And, ""How quickly come the reasons for approving what we like!""

>>Dale in Ala.
" 14 58 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/26/1999 12:42:02 PM "Question, please: When Sir Walter and Mr. Shepherd are discussing possible tenants for the house, they both remark that high-ranking naval officers are preferable because of their ""liberality.""

Could somebody fill me in on what ""liberal"" meant, in Austen's era and context? However, I'd wager they're not talking about left-leaning pointy-headed Clinton-supporting tax-and-spend flag-burning tree-huggers, right?

>>Dale in Ala., who pretty much fits that description himself
" 14 65 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/26/1999 3:10:37 PM "Dale -- I was unsure about this also and think you are right but -- that definition is just TOO great! Still chuckling here!

Dottie
ID is an oxymoron!
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/26/1999 3:14:30 PM "George,
I love your observations regarding Austen. I find that she often uses genteel language, but that the points she's making with it are about as sharp as they can be...sort of like a scalpel. In fact, that may be my favorite thing about her.

My edition of Persuasion is the Signet Classic and it has an interesting introduction by Margaret Drabble. She makes the point that this is Austen's last completed novel, finished in the summer of 1816 when she was forty and published in 1818 after her death. Drabble calls this a book of second chances and says that ""...it is much more open-ended, much less conservative in tone, than its two immediate predecessors in the Austen canon."" And, from the discussion, I'm assuming these were Emma and Sense and Sensibility. I think this may be why I liked it so much. The incisive observations are of a more experienced sort...perhaps they fit more with my own time in life.

Barb
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/26/1999 3:24:19 PM "Kent,
You make some excellent points about number of characters in audiobooks. After I finished reading Persuasion (even visually), I went back and reread the first few chapters. There was some of that scene-setting and character introduction that I had missed on my first reading, even when I tried to go back and check.

I find that I get more from an audiobook than a traditional reading when the music of its language is important to the feel of it. Listening to Frank Muhler read the introduction to Prince of Tides is a case in point. I might've read that section with little understanding myself but, listening to him read it, I understood.

Dale, I didn't understand that ""liberality"" point either. Sir Walter was the definition of conservative, except for his spending habits.

Barb
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/26/1999 6:09:31 PM "Dale,
I need to get started on my reread, but I think ""liberality"" in this context means willingness to spend money.

Ann
" 14 286 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/26/1999 6:36:53 PM "My favorite lines in Persuasion:

Prettier musings of high-wrought love and eternal constancy could never have passed along the streets of Bath than Anne was sporting with from Camden Place to Westgate Buildings. It was almost enough to spread purification and perfume all the way.

That last sentence has a delicious edge. Not genteel in the least.

Bea
" 14 58 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/26/1999 8:15:16 PM "Bea: A delicious edge, for sure, and JA always slides in the scalpel...er, the plane of higher consciousness...in just the most efficacious way. Such mileage, from so (relatively) few words...

>>Dale in Ala.
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/27/1999 1:13:43 AM "From what I remember from previous readings of Austen, she is very genteel, as she deftly slips in the knife.

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/27/1999 6:12:16 PM "I am really enjoying this reread. I love this description of Sir Elliot's thought process:

He considered the blessing of beauty as inferior only to the blessing of a baronetcy; and the Sir Walter Elliot, who united these gifts, was the constant object of his warmest respect and devotion.

No self-esteem problem there. - G -

Ann
" 14 214 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/27/1999 6:17:51 PM "Ann, that particular little quip about Sir Walter's regard for his favourite person never ceases to amuse me despite many re-reads!

Katie
""Everything in moderation, EXCEPT for reading.""
" 14 58 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/27/1999 8:31:23 PM "Ann & Katie: Mr. Elliott's abundance of self-esteem reminds me of a cartoon I saw many moons ago, in (I think) The New Yorker.

This couple is at a fancy restaurant table, apparently on a first date, and just as the woman's eyes are glazing over, the guy says, ""But, I've talked enough about myself. Tell me...what do you like best about me?""

>>Dale in Ala., who was taught growing up that self-esteem is a negative trait
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/27/1999 10:31:47 PM "Dale,
That's perfect!

Katie,
If you don't mind satisfying my curiosity, how many times have you read PERSUASION? Up until I found CC and CR, I never reread books, but now I have discovered that pleasure.

Ann
" 14 214 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/28/1999 6:17:34 AM "I very rarely re-read books simply because there are so many books to read! However, I have a small number of books I read again and again, including all of Jane Austen's novels. I looked in my journals and it looks like I've read Persuasion about once every three or four years for the last twenty. Pride and Prejudice gets read almost yearly! The stories never get old for me and I am always discovering new things.

Just as an aside, I like to re-read the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dickens and L.M. Montgomery.

Katie
""Everything in moderation, EXCEPT for reading.""
" 14 214 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/28/1999 6:18:31 AM "Dale, I loved that comic piece. It couldn't remind me more of Sir Walter!

Katie
""Everything in moderation, EXCEPT for reading.""
" 14 311 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/28/1999 9:08:14 AM "Hello Everybody!

I'm reading Persuasion for the first time. In fact, this is the second Austen novel I have read. I read Pride and Prejudice a few years back, but all I can recall is excellent prose and not much of the action.

Austen's prose is wonderful--I can't help but go off and read it aloud. The sentence structure is spell binding--such erudite uses of colons and semi-colons, dependent and independent clauses. Jane is definitely the writer's writer when it comes to sentence structure.

Now, the characters--I find them to be somewhat stereotyped. Perhaps it is just personal taste, but I have the feeling that, aside from Anne, many of the characters are just created for narrative convenience.

And I agree with Kent's earlier assessment: Austen's narrative voice wanders seemingly aimlessly for the first two chapters. And her authorial voice is definitely heard--she's calling Sir Walter ""silly"" by the second page. Doesn't his actions make that manifest? Does the author have to tell us? It's like being hit over the head with a hammer, really: ""HEY READER! THIS GUY IS VAIN AND SILLY, OK? CAUSE THAT'S IMPORTANT LATER ON DOWN THE ROAD..."" I realize this is common in the 18th and 19th century novel, but Austen doesn't even try for an impersonal first person observer's voice.

And this may be a guy thing--but I noticed that almost all Austen novel have the frilly lady fully bedecked on the cover. My copy has a lavender (or is it mauve?) background to boot. What's the deal? Who designs these book covers? Get out of the 18th and 19th portrait galleries and DESIGN a clever cover, Signet and friends! I still read my Austen in public, proudly displaying the lavender cover and frilly-bedecked woman. The park pedestrians pass and ponder and realize: That man is obviously very literate and comfortable with his masculinity. Maybe he's just getting in touch with his feminine side. Which, considering Austen, is ludicrous. I don't find she caters to one gender over another; but the book covers do tend to expect a certain kind of reader.

QUESTIONS
(1) I realize I'm not finished yet, but the first chapter seems to hint that the perfect mate for Elizabeth is a distant relative. Isn't the ""heir presumptive"" Mr. Elliott related to Elizabeth, somehow? I concede I may be missing the point here.

(2) What is the proper pronunciation of ""Kellynch?"" I'm tired of reading the novel aloud in my room (Samuel Johnson style, by the way--rocking on my heels while standing in the middle of the study)and having to break some beautiful sentence up because I'm not sure if it is ""Kell-Lynch"" or some other English word where the letters really have little to do with the pronunciation.

Dan
(Realize, of course, that I generally nit-pick books I enjoy reading. What's the fun in reading the perfect novel, n'est-ce pas?)
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/28/1999 10:49:54 AM "I hung up on that prospective husband for Elizabeth, too. Had to go back and flip through the beginning pages to see if I'd missed something. You'd think, with the ink she spends on other explanation, Austen would have clarified this. Then again, perhaps in her time this would have needed little clarification.

I agree that she doesn't need to tell us he's silly, after she's already shown us, but that's a 19th century novel. And I don't mind at all, our awareness of the author's voice and opinions.

Ruth, whose copy of Persuasion has standard library binding, with no cover illustration at all
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 65 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/28/1999 11:35:47 AM "Dan and Ruth -- I wasn't bothered by the author's voice nor by the obvious being pointed out so blatantly -- after all, it is a 19th century work as Ruth pointed out.

My Penguin Popular Classics edition has a detail from Milsom Street, Bath a painting by John Claude Nattes in the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath (photo Bridgeman Art Library). This -- as you may recall -- is one of the main streets where some of the novel takes place and I felt that was a rather nice bonus. It is sepia and gray tones with a uniformed figure escorting a lady down the street and other figures in the background.

Dottie
ID is an oxymoron!
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/28/1999 12:39:58 PM "Daniel,
I'm glad to see that we're going to have another Classics Corner reader! You're reminding me a bit of my brother who posted here in CC's early days and would surely have been reading the text out-loud rocking on his heels in the middle of the room. I miss his presence here.

Austen is a bit vague on the genetic connection with the ""heir presumptive"". She says that he was the great-grandson of the second Sir Walter. I'm assuming that this means that they are cousins, maybe even second or third cousins. In any case, weren't cousins still marrying each other in the early 19th century?

Margaret Drabble points out in her introduction in my edition that Austen reworked her other books incessantly and that Persuasion might have been reworked more if Austen had lived longer. She did redo a scene at the end that was significant. I'll describe that when more people have finished so as to not spoil it. In any case, Drabble points out that Persuasion is much shorter than Austen's other books and might have expanded as she made changes. She also points out some ""incidental and rather odd defects"" that she thinks might have been corrected with that process. I'll include those with the later notes.

And, how nice that you didn't let that cover illustration deter you from joining us!

Barb
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/28/1999 5:08:53 PM "Dan,
I'm so glad you joined us on this novel and hope you will stick around Classics Corner. I didn't read the book until after I saw the movie, so the images of the actors are indelibly imprinted in my mind for the people in this book. I liked both the book and the movie very much, which is unusual for me. Generally, I am disappointed in movies based on books, but this one followed the book well and the English cast was excellent at showing multi-dimensional characters. It has been released on video and is well worth renting.

Now that the movie has faded somewhat in my mind and I am just reading the text, I wonder if Anne is just a bit too good to be true. This touches on your feelings that the characters are stereotypical, Dan. Whenever Anne has even a bit of a nasty thought, I feel like applauding. There aren't many of them. What do the rest of you think? Maybe it is just that most of the characters are so clearly either very good or very bad (or at least very silly). I think Wentworth is something of an exception. He is more complex. So is Lady Russell.

Austen is probably at her best when she is being satirical. What do you all think? She really digs her knife in when she describes Sir Elliot and his favorite daughter, Elizabeth. She was obviously extremely irritated by people who determined value by social position. Also, the hypochondriac seems to be a familiar figure in her writing. Is that right, Katie? Emma's father was one in EMMA, but I read the other Austen books too long ago to remember much.

I can see why people classify Austen's stories as ""comfort"" books. I am certainly up for reading more here on CC.

WARNING -- POSSIBLE PLOT SPOILER --
If there are any medical people out there (Anne, are you there?), what do you think of Louisa's long, but complete, recovery from her head injury? Does that sound realistic?
" 14 286 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/28/1999 6:35:11 PM "I think marriage between even first cousins was no big deal in those days.

The snobs in the family object to Henrietta's romance with Charles Harter but it's the fact that he's a poorish curate that puts them off. The fact that he's her first cousin doesn't seem to phase anyone in the least.

I have a question for history buffs. I'd love to know exactly how Frederick Wentworth got rich in the British navy. Did he get a share of the loot when they took a ship? Was he rewarded for winning sea battles? What?

Bea
" 14 214 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/28/1999 7:35:36 PM "Daniel, in regards to Austen's excellent grasp of the ""grammatical arts"", I too, remain in awe. It is so pleasant to read her writing just for the the structure alone. That sounds a bit odd, but I mean it. Not only is it a pleasure to read, but it is a joy to read aloud. Austen's work is fun to read aloud and Graham Swift (a personal favourite), his books lend well to reading aloud also.

You said: ""Now, the characters--I find them to be somewhat stereotyped. Perhaps
it is just personal taste, but I have the feeling that, aside from Anne,
many of the characters are just created for narrative convenience.""

Although I tend to like the way in which she develops her characters, I must agree that the idea of their purpose being for ""narrative convenience"" is rather appropriate. They have that two-dimensional, Dickensonian quality, don't you think?

And speaking of covers, Dan, the one on my omnibus is great. It depicts a collection of men and women of the time socializing in a realistic manner in plain ol' black and white. Not a drop of mauve in sight!

YOu also posed the questions:
""(1) I realize I'm not finished yet, but the first chapter seems to hint that
the perfect mate for Elizabeth is a distant relative. Isn't the ""heir
presumptive"" Mr. Elliott related to Elizabeth, somehow? I concede I may
be missing the point here.""

Although it isn't clear, I believe that the young Mr. Elliott is a cousin. I think that marriages between cousins continued even beyond this time, but I am just stating a feeling and not a fact. :) There is a precedent for this type of relationship. In Pride and Prejudice, the cousin, Mr. Collins, a first cousin if I remember correctly, will stand to inherit the estate upon Mr. Bennet's death. He looks to marry first Jane, who Mrs. Bennet discounts for him quickly as she already looks about to become engaged, and then Elizabeth, who has the good sense to turn him down. Another similarity is the fact that the cousins both in Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion are a bit different from your usual Austen man. Mr. Collins is a social climbing, pompous and foolish man in Pride and Prejudice. I won't spoil anyone's meeting of young Mr. Elliott by giving you any clues to his character now. :)

""(2) What is the proper pronunciation of ""Kellynch?"" I'm tired of reading
the novel aloud in my room (Samuel Johnson style, by the way--rocking
on my heels while standing in the middle of the study)and having to break
some beautiful sentence up because I'm not sure if it is ""Kell-Lynch"" or
some other English word where the letters really have little to do with the
pronunciation.""

I have no clue as to the accuracy of this but my grandmother, who was English, would pronounce it as ""kelly-ench""

Ann, I really enjoyed the movie version of Persuasion. It was a bit darker...or maybe bleaker might be the right word for the film....than any of the other adaptations I have seen. But I thought it was appropriate and a good movie overall.

Speaking of movie versions of Austen's works, don't they lend themselves extremely well to screen adaptations? I haven't seen one that I didn't like, although there is the BBC version of Emma that wasn't quite as good as the Gwenyth Paltrow rendition.


Ann wrote:
""Now that the movie has faded somewhat in my mind and I am just
reading the text, I wonder if Anne is just a bit too good to be true. This
touches on your feelings that the characters are stereotypical, Dan.
Whenever Anne has even a bit of a nasty thought, I feel like applauding.
There aren't many of them. What do the rest of you think?""

I think in Anne's case, we don't really get to see her at her worst. Instead we learn of her more undesirable character traits as they were when she was eight years younger than she is know, and we learn of her behaviour through her own recollections of the period. I never have thought of her as being too good to be true, although she does use a rather self-righteous tone a couple of times that reminds me of the heroine in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (I forget which Bronte girl that was, Anne?). Anyway, I always thought it was okay for her to be a little ""too good to be true"". After all, she has matured, and because of her isolation due to social constraints and her egocentric family members, she has had plenty of time to become quiet, reflective and genuinely amiable. What is amazing is that she could be this nice in THAT family. I doubt I would be. :)


Ann also wrote:
""Also, the hypochondriac
seems to be a familiar figure in her writing. Is that right, Katie? Emma's
father was one in EMMA, but I read the other Austen books too long ago
to remember much.""

Absolutely, offhand I am thinking of the mother in Sense and Sensibility, Mrs. Dashwood. While not a hypochondriac in the true sense of the word, she did have delicate nerves and was not as strong as her eldest daughter in times of trouble, and would have to ""retire"".
Also, Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice is the poster child for hypochondria...what a character!

Well, this has been a long post! I think the watermelon sherbet I'm eating has a long-winded effect on my posting habits. HEH!
Katie
""Everything in moderation, EXCEPT for reading.""
" 14 107 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/28/1999 8:18:26 PM "Bea,
I wondered about the same thing. How did he get rich and came to the same conclusion as you. He shared the spoils when he took an enemy ship. How strange! These days I would expect the government to take it all.

I may have mentioned before that I had a friend, now deceased who read Austen's book end to end over and over. So I got interested in reading Austen and that was many many years ago - and - with the best of intentions was unable to do so. Well, I did not give up that easy. I decided to take Austen books along on boring vacation trips. Still it did not work. Reading Hemingway was different all right. Well I was relatively young and there was not enough action to her work. It was too subtle and perhaps sophisticated. Well there was the male female thing as well. Hemingway was Oh So Masculine and women- who could ever understand them and their idle chatter.

Well things have changed, or should I say I have changed and how I look at Austen as being not only as a superb writer but as a most insightful, clever author. She is uncanny in the way she portrayed her characters and last but not least, her sense of subtle humor is incredible. So, it takes time to mature and truly appreciate good writing.

Dale your first date story is terrific! Glad you are around this time and hope to see you in Seattle. This not only goes for you but also for the rest of the CC group.

Reading a book the second time, years later was discussed at one point. It is for me at least one of the most valuable and interesting experiences. Years ago I frequently read a book under pressure trying to get through with it and get the point the author was trying to present. Now, that my life is more leisurely the same book acquires a new meaning. I truly read it and think about the writing, the characters, the subtleties, etc. So, there may be a point to maturing (BG) at least when it comes to books.
Ernie
" 14 311 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/28/1999 10:35:01 PM "I dug out my old copy of Daniel Pool's What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew and found this rather interesting passage:

That left only one mechanical--albeit serious--problem with the scheme [of keeping one's land or estate in the family name] What if all the children were girls? This, it will be remembered, is the problem of poor Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. with daughters, as we have seen, the family name might disappear if they inherited the property, so what should be done in this situation? Quite often, the answer was that the deed of settlement or will entailing the property would provide for a lateral pass to another branch of the family that did have a young male. And this is what happens in Pride and Prejudice , where obsequious Mr. Collins inherits Mr. Bennet's estate because ""Mr. Bennet's property consisted almost entirely of an estate of two thousand a year, which unfortunately for his daughters, was entailed in default of heirs male, on a distant relation,"" the ""distant relation"" being Mr. Collins. Likewise, Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion has no sons; as a consequence the ""heir presumptive"" is a cousin, William Elliot.
******
We can judge the strength of attachment [to family property]--and perhaps the poverty of single, genteel women--from the fact that Mr. Collins offers to marry various of the disinherited Bennet girls, and that Elizabeth Elliot pursues her relative William Walter when it is apparent that he will inherit the estate where she grew up...Indeed, given the unquestioned propriety of cousins marrying for most of the 1800s, the girls may well have done better under this scenario than if a brother inherited the estate, a possibility that finds confirmation in Wuthering Heights , of all places, where the dying Edgar Linton tries to encourage his daughter Catherine's marriage to Heathcliff, his aunt's son..."" (92-93)

Pardon my quoting at length, but I wanted to share evidence which supports what many already stated--that marrying cousins was common in during Austen's time.

I also checked Pool for information about the Navy at the time, but all Pool notes was that one did not have to pay to reach officer status (as one did in the army), hence making the navy an attractive career for poor people seeking respect and position. I could find no references as to how one could grow rich within the navy, so let's call it a ""literary device"" until we find some historical support.

And Ruth, I'm envious. But realize that my copy of Pride and Prejudice from over a decade ago did not even have a cover (I was young living in an apartment overlooking a bookstore's dumpster--I had a hell of a library of topless books). So of course, I was never one to judge covers until now, when I must go to used bookstores and purchase. And if its mauve, it's mauve. I'll survive.

Oh, and on the ""man"" issue: I have put down a Hemingway from boredom but never an Austen.

Dan (the Man)
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/28/1999 11:59:23 PM "My husband gave me a copy of What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew for Christmas a couple of years ago. Thanks for reminding me of it, Daniel. This would be a good time to get it out.

Ruth, reporting just 3 pages progress today, but hoping for a few more in bed
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 58 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/29/1999 8:45:44 AM "Ernie: Good to hear from you, and I look forward to seeing you and Pat in Seattle.

I definitely agree that books don't open themselves up to us until the time is right for us to appreciate them. I don't think I would have cared much for Austen way back when, either. But, besides just the beauty of the style itself, as Katie says, I think she does a masterful job in PERSUASION of rendering all the conflicting emotions in Anne of someone who wishes for a second chance at happiness.

My hat's off to Anne, too, for her good behavior. I wanted to strangle Mary less than halfway through her long, whining, spiteful first conversation. Gosh, I've known folks like that.

>>Dale in Ala.
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/29/1999 11:42:49 AM "Wasn't the character of Mary absolutely perfect?!? In fact, I think she may have been the most realistically drawn in the book. I do know people just like that and kept wondering who Austen was modeling her on.

On the question of where Wentworth acquires his wealth, Drabble points out that the novel opens in the summer of 1814. ""Napoleon has lost Paris and is confined to Elba, but he will not stay there for long, and 1815 will bring new turmoil and the Battle of Waterloo."" This time seems to have been ripe for military men to make their fortunes. Drabble refers to his fortune as having been made through ""prize money"" and says that he and Anne first fell in love in 1806, the year after the battle of Trafalgar. I am assuming that the prize money came from bonuses for victories. But, I assume it also could have come from the plunder (or a percentage of it) won in those battles. She also points out that when he reappears in Anne's life, according to Charles Musgrove, he has made ""not less than twenty thousand pounds by the war"" and it grows to twenty-five by the last chapter. Emma was considered to be wealthy and was worth thirty thousand pounds which is more than a million in today's terms, according to Drabble again. That must've been some prize money!!

Thanks so much for the information from Pool's book, Daniel. You reminded me that I've meant to buy it. The information about the Navy not requiring pay to reach officer status is very interesting. It makes me understand Sir Walter's objections to the Navy for ""raising persons of obscure birth into undue distinction."" And, once again, I thank my lucky stars that I was born female in today's world and not an earlier one.

Wonderful comments about your different reading styles as you grow older, Ernie. That was perfectly stated. Learning to savor is truly the gift of age, I think.

Barb
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/29/1999 5:22:27 PM "Ernie,
Like you, when I was younger I cared much more for plot and action. Austen always appealed to me because most girls are very attracted to love stories. However, overly descriptive writing always made me impatient because I was anxious to get on with the story. As the years have gone by, I have learned to appreciate fine writing much more.

Bea, I could be wrong, but during the Napoleonic Wars the British enforced naval blockades against France and its allies. I assumed that Wentworth was allowed to keep some of the loot when he captured enemy merchant ships. I'm not sure where to go to verify that, but I'll try. I was hoping the Poole book had some details.

Mary is certainly the ultimate in self-serving martyrs, isn't she? Emma Thompson's sister (sorry I can't remember her name) played her in the movie and she was perfect.

Katie, good point about many of Anne's weaknesses being in her past. Although she is a far better person than most of us would be in her circumstances, she has qualities that keep her from being overly sweet -- a good sense of humor, independence, and pride.

I read once that some people think that this story was partially drawn from Austen's life. Supposedly she also rejected a suitor that her family thought was inappropriate, although unlike Anne she did not get a second chance. Does anyone know if there is any evidence to support this? Her stories all revolve around love and finding a suitable spouse, and yet she never married. Judging from her descriptions of Anne, however, I think she certainly understood love.

Ann
" 14 214 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/29/1999 6:13:11 PM "Ann, I have long thought that Austen was very much preoccupied with the ideal of marrying for love. In a time when one married to acquire a social equal, an elevation in social status, an augment to one's depleting finances or to enhance an already considerable fortune, all of her heroines end up marrying the man of their choosing and for love.

But not only does she represent the romantic side of relationships and marriage, she does so in a way that is palatable to both men and women and never renders it sappy and saccharine. Her primary female characters possess, well, real character in personality and appearance. They are often described as attractive women who have lost that blush of youthful beauty, but have sparkling wit and dancing eyes like Elizabeth Bennet, or a boundless imagination and penchant for wanting the best for those around them (however clumsy one may be in assisting them :) ), like Emma. I think that Austen was rather clever in having us see Anne as quite plain near the beginning of the book because we grow to find her lovely because of the glimpse we get into her character, her behaviour, and her inner life. Finally, we grow fonder of her in exactly the same way the man in her life does: through familiarity with her ways and habits.

What skill!

Katie
""Everything in moderation, EXCEPT for reading.""
" 14 286 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/29/1999 6:57:32 PM "Katie, Anne, Dale, et al

Thought you might enjoy Vladimir Nabokov's views on re-reading:

Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader. And I shall tell you why. When we read a book for the first time the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation. When we look at a painting we do not have to move our eyes in a special way even if, as in a book, the picture contains elements of depth and development. The element of time does not really enter in a first contact with a painting. In reading a book, we must have time to acquaint ourselves with it. We have no physical organ (as we have the eye in regard to a painting) that takes in the whole picture and then can enjoy its details. But at a second, or third, or forth reading we do, in a sense, behave towards a book as we do toward a painting.

From Lectures on Literature

Curiously, I was a big re-reader in my younger days. Now that I am older somehow there are too many books and too little time to indulge often.

Bea
" 14 311 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/29/1999 9:57:32 PM "Barbara: I agree 100%: Mary is so despicable and petty. I know her type still walks the earth.

I am up to Chapter 10 and the book has certainly grown much more interesting. I'm beginning to believe that Austen always intended to go and brush up a few items here and there, hopefully the first and second chapters. In fact, as a writer, I always write my way through and rewrite the opening paragraph or chapter. It's usual. Wasn't this book published posthumously? If so, it would explain why the first chapter or two seem so sketchy and forced.

Anne's visit at Uppercross is dynamic writing. Austin presents a stifling social scene where people are the victims of class etiquette and social position. I love the walking invitation Mary accepts even when it is clear the Musgrove women are just being social and cannot believe that Mary actually accepts the offer: ""Anne felt persuaded, by the looks of the two girls, that it was precisely what they did not wish, and admired again the sort of necessity which the family habits seemed to produce, of everything being to be communicated, and everything being to be done together, however undesired and inconvenient.""

Austen's world is hellish in the extreme. Despite the societal trappings, these people are not happy. The situation is dramatically rendered in the image of Anne playing the music with tears filling her eyes. She accepts the role of musician because it is expected of her--she plays the tunes even though she doesn't want to. She's trapped, making beautiful music. It's kind of like the novel in a fashion--it's beautiful on the surface, to the ear, but what is the disposition of the player? Someone noted a possible similarity of past experiences for Anne and Austen. Maybe its just me, but I find that image hard to shake. It's a rare instance where Anne's facade drops and her real emotions are revealed. And God forbid sincere emotions anywhere within a society where individual love is secondary to social class and finances.

Another scene that is marvelously rendered is the scene where Wentworth removes the child from Anne's back silently. Charles Haylet's reaction is so normal; Wentworth's actions are totally within character. It's a tense moment. Wentworth just plucks the 2 year old off of Anne--his actions produce the results that Charles' words cannot The scene reminded me of some of the social scenes in Dostoyevsky, like in The Idiot where things keep building and building until the entire social structure is sent reeling because Prince Mishkin is slapped outright. Whereas Dostoyevsky presented the deconstruction of society often, Austen preserves its veneer of civility. No character has gotten out of line yet--no, they just talk behind everyone's back like civilized folk. .

Austen's scenes at Uppercross are extraordinary. The writer of the first chapter who made sure the reader's sympathies would not be misplaced is gone, replaced by an observer. We receive hints, The incidents and characters take on a life of their own. The characters are more lifelike, more interesting to watch as they struggle to carry themselves through this hellish world, a world where both even parents will leave their children behind in order to attend a soiree.

Henrietta and Charles Haylet bring back the ""marrying cousins"" theme again, but this time Henrietta is doing Charles a big favor. Daniel Pool notes that altruistic women such as Henrietta were common; that is, women who would marry within the family to do a male cousin a favor by making him the heir of an estate or such.

I can't put the book down now, and I'm afraid my pages are bleeding ink now that I've taken pen in hand to ""reread"" in a manner maybe even Nabokov would find somewhat unsettling.

Dan
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/30/1999 5:19:18 AM "I love those Uppercross scenes too, Daniel. There is a quote somewhere from Austen about the circumscribed environment that she wrote about. It sounds a bit self-deprecating. Does anyone know it? In any case, what amazes me about her is that she writes so incisively about these commonplace interactions among people who rarely go far from home.

I listened to an excellent biography of Austen last year, Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin. I think our library has the book form of it and I'm going to try and look for it this week-end. But, for now from my sieve-like memory, Austen was in love with a young man who visited her area one summer. The feelings were reciprocated. Unfortunately, however, the young man was required by his family to marry a woman of fortune. Austen was the daughter of a poor rector who usually struggled to make ends meet. The young man finally was called home and eventually married a woman with money. The biographer says that he was interviewed in later years and revealed that he definitely was in love with Austen.

She was also encouraged by many to marry a brother of some friends of her's quite a long time after this. The brother had considerable money and Austen initially accepted his proposal. However, she couldn't go through with it and, after much agonizing, told him she had changed her mind. This caused her great feelings of discomfort with her friends.

According to Tomalin, after her father died, Austen was totally dependent on money from her brothers. I can't remember her living arrangements in detail, but I do recall a lot of moving between their houses as they needed her or had room for her. The above mentioned marriage to the man with money would have delivered her from this, but she still chose not to do it. Her sister's fiance was killed (in some kind of military situation, I think) and she never married either.

Sorry if I'm mistaken regarding any of these details. I'll try to check on it soon.

Barb
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/30/1999 11:21:18 AM "As a poor rector's daughter, how is it, do you think, that Austen could write so convincingly of life within the walls of society's drawing rooms?

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 311 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/30/1999 12:53:49 PM "Ruth: Can one not suppose she idealizes that ""life within the drawing room,"" as one who wishes she could have been there? There is a certain quality of unrealism in the drawing room situations--the characters are all realistic enough, but the settings seem contrived. Yet this mixture creates a truly unique literary experience--the reader can sense some yearning there that life really was like this and some scorn for the types that are found there--the petty minds, etc.

This is a quick lunch break, but I wanted to throw that in. I understand the dangers of reading the author's emotions from the work. I'm just speculating, of course.

Dan, ever fearful of the return of his graduate instructor in literary theory.
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/30/1999 1:36:37 PM "If I remember correctly, Austen was on the edge of wealth...they had wealthy friends. I know there was a brother who was adopted by a wealthy family because they took a liking to him and were childless. There was also a cousin who was a great friend who married into money. I need to go back and reread this biography, I think.

Barb
" 14 58 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/30/1999 2:58:30 PM "Ruth & All: As to how Austen knew so much about high society, I would suspect that she was a Constant Reader and was drawn to both journalism and fiction portraying that stratum of life, in addition to whatever personal experiences she might have had.

I've always thought that the idea of going off to ""experience the world"" before writing about same is highly overrated. Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor are only two examples that come to mind, of writers in relatively ""sheltered"" lives producing timeless and mind-blowing fiction as told through an astounding number of different character voices.

In fact, in a question-and-answer session following one of Flannery's presentations to a university's creative-writing class, one student asked if it was a good idea to ""see the world"" for a year or two before trying to write fiction. Flannery reportedly answered, ""Any person who pays even moderate attention to the world around them has, by the age of puberty, more than enough material to write about for several lifetimes.""

The controversy in past years about ""repressed memories"" that are brought out by hypnosis--regarding child sexual abuse, etc.--has always frightened me, because there are many things I've read in books that are far more ""real"" to me than my own life. (Not to mention, a darn sight more exciting...{G}) Joking aside, the line between reality and fiction is a greatly blurred one for me and, I suspect, for a lot of us serious readers.

Just a thought...

>>Dale in Ala.


" 14 80 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/30/1999 3:16:32 PM "I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed by the length and breadth of this thread, especially since I've already started Middlemarch.

I did want to say, though, that I did enjoy Persuasion very much, and I especially liked the way Mary's character is depicted. I wish I could say those characters only appeared in books.

Dale, you've convinced me, once again, to attempt a re-read of The Age of Innocence. I tried to read it in college and didn't like it at all. But I've always remembered my creative writing professor's comment, that when he first read the novel he got so frustrated that he threw it across the room. Later in life, he re-read it and decided it was one of his favorite novels of all time. I loved Ethan Frome, which I never read in high school (even though it was required reading in my class) but read after college because I felt so guilty about not reading it before.

I'm interested in how your perspective and understanding changes in the ""re-read"" and also with the idea that maybe some of the classics shouldn't be pushed on younger students. I've had both experiences; I've been turned off by authors because I was forced to read novels I didn't appreciate at the time (MOBY DICK) and I've been introduced to books I loved and never would have picked up if they hadn't been required (A Farewell to Arms, The Great Gatsby, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Poe . . .) Maybe I've answered my own question by coming up with a far longer list of ""required"" books I've loved versus required books I've hated.

Elaine
" 14 58 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/30/1999 3:27:12 PM "Elaine: My hat's off to you for making the MIDDLEMARCH journey, much less keeping up with the PERSUASION thread. Very interesting observations, re: ""required"" reading. One person's turn-off is another person's life-changer, it seems, and maybe that's as it should be.

On the idea of re-reading, though, and valuing ""classics"" differently at different stages of our lives, I'd like to recommend another (sorry! {G}) book that treats that topic with amazing insight, I think. It's by David Denby (a magazine editor in New York), and is called GREAT BOOKS. It recounts his experience of going back to college in middle age to study ""The Classics,"" and his intellectual and emotional rollercoaster with the professors, the books, and the young adults who were his classmates. A really gripping work, I think, which still resonates for me.

>>Dale in Ala.
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/30/1999 5:49:46 PM "Dale & Daniel, of course Welty's right about their being plenty of material in one's own life for a plethora of writing. But I'm wondering how accurate a picture of drawing room society Austen is painting. It certainly seems an empty world full of empty heads.

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 311 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/30/1999 11:40:50 PM "Dale; I like your thoughts on this ""classics"" issue, and I can't help but agree with Elaine on how one's age affects one's reception of certain literary works.

The literary critic Terry Eagleton noted that the guards at Aushwitz were big fans of Goethe--doing their ""job"" by day and kicking back with Romance by night. That image has always stuck with me. We wonder the true effects of books on most people. Sometimes even the most despicable of people can be the most literate of readers.

I'm sure I could not have enjoyed Persuasion when I was younger. I would have hated it. I remember struggling with Henry James in an honors course. I would read the work for my class but my interpretations of the action or motivations of the characters were so different from the ""normal theories"" that the professor dismissed them completely and without benefit of allowing me to argue ""from the text."" It seemed a kind of literary game, and I really didn't want to play anymore. He would quote Austen at length, and I distinctly remember placing her on an imaginary list of ""WRITERS TO AVOID.""

I don't think there is an answer. Literature plays such an important role for most, but the question of what and when and the amount of necessary coercion--""Read it--you'll thank me later""--is such a delicate game. And whenever I think of suggesting books, I think about German guards. The proper book does not always ensure morality and sensitivity of spirit.

Dan


" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/31/1999 12:58:51 AM "I seem to be in the minority here. I read heavily in the classics when I was young. Thought nothing of diving into Austen, or Tolstoy or Doestoevsky or even Melville while in my teens and twenties. The thicker the better.

Now, forty years later,I find I have less and less patience for this kind of book, particularly those with an omniscient narrator. I'm much more interested in getting under the skin of a single character than I am in the panoramic play of many 19th century novels.

I'm enjoying the Austen, but it's taking tenacity on my part.

Ruth

Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 65 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/31/1999 4:58:46 AM "Ruth -- I loved your comment --'It certainly seems an empty world full of empty heads'. -- in reference to drawing room society.

Don't you think that in 'society' even today there might not be a lot of similarity to this description? I think that a rather high percentage of those at many gatherings would fall into the empty heads definition.

I also think that there were good points as well as bad to most of the characters -- even Mary, though I am unable to defend that at the moment. Perhaps even empty headed people can have some good qualities?

Dottie
ID is an oxymoron!
" 14 214 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/31/1999 7:07:46 AM "Dan wrote:
""Dale; I like your thoughts on this ""classics"" issue, and I can't help but
agree with Elaine on how one's age affects one's reception of certain
literary works.""

Dan et al, I couldn't agree more on the effects maybe not of age, but experience (which often comes as a result of age) on the reader's reaction to some works of literature. Whenever this topic is broached, I think immediately of The Great Gatsby, which was something entirely different to me at 32 then at 16. But to tie that idea into Austen's work, I found that their were elements in Emma, particularly, that gained greater understanding from me as reader in re-readings as I grew older and gained more life experience. In Persuasion, the theme of second chances also acquires a more powerful meaning, I think, as one matures and has the experience to comprehend what that can actually mean. But don't mistake me, I am not in the least saying that one must be older to comprehend many of the themes in this and other works of literature, but I do think that the measure of life experience from which you reference your reactions is important whether you are 16 or 61.

Dottie wrote:
""I also think that there were good points as well as bad to most of the
characters -- even Mary, though I am unable to defend that at the
moment. Perhaps even empty headed people can have some good
qualities?""

Why not? :) In Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet is the most annoying, exasperating, amusing, and empty-headed character. Yet despite all her ""nervous breakdowns"", lack of social skills, and totally inappropriate efforts to get her daughters married off, I have always felt that the character was looking out for the welfare and future, specifically financial, of her daughters. If true, then this would constitute a good quality in an otherwise vacuous entity. Call me sentimental. :)


Katie
""Everything in moderation, EXCEPT for reading.""
" 14 173 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/31/1999 8:37:17 AM "Hello All--

Dottie's point about the qualities in even 'bad' characters is interesting also in light of Anne. I think it's pretty clear that Anne sees the qualities of all the characters, and sees them accurately. If Mary walked into our houses right now we would be wary, reluctant to do her favors because of what we know of her from Persuasion. Anne, knowing these people's flaws better than they do, never hesitates. She has some inner mechanism that simultaneously lets her know people, yet also be persuaded on their behalf. Much like a novelist, who knows the limits of their creations and loves them anyway. The problem in Anne is how to retain this glorious bifocal vision of others while figuring out how to be a unified self (i.e, not letting herself be persuaded into flawed decisions like rejecting Wentworth...) It's a difficult road she's on, I think.
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/31/1999 2:31:43 PM "George,
Excellent point about Anne's ability to deal kindly with the other characters, even though she fully recognizes their flaws. She understands them, so she makes allowances for them. I wish I could be more like that. Perhaps she represents the better side of all of us.

I have really enjoyed the discussion on rereading the classics. I read quite a few when I was in my teens and early twenties and then slacked off until I discovered Classics Corner a few years ago. One of the things I like most about the ""classic"" authors is that they know how to tell a good story, one with a clear beginning and end, and one which is populated by strong characters that live on in my mind long after I have finished the book. I admit it, Ruth. I'm weak. I like a plot that follows a definite path and ties up most of the loose ends at the conclusion. If classic authors sometimes err on the side of telling us too much, modern authors sometimes tell us too little.

What really makes a classic IMHO is that it deals with universal themes. When I was much younger I didn't have enough experience to recognize that these were ""universal"" themes. As an older reader, I also have more patience with wordier, old-fashioned writing styles.

Bea, I liked your Nabokov quote. As one of the great stylists of the English language, he would, of course, want to strongly encourage rereading of his own works.(G) I hope you will be with us when we read LOLITA later this year. It made it on our reading list under our rather flexible definition of ""classic,"" i.e. it was nominated and got enough votes.
" 14 65 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/31/1999 7:59:24 PM "On 7/31/99 2:31:43 PM, Ann Davey wrote:

>I hope you will be with us
>when we read LOLITA later this
>year. It made it on our
>reading list under our rather
>flexible definition of
>""classic,"" i.e. it was
>nominated and got enough
>votes.
>

Ann -- I -- for one -- think it is nice that our classics definition has such broad possibilities and Lolita came in the two cartons of books on the boat so I am ready!

Dottie
ID is an oxymoron!
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/31/1999 8:07:31 PM "Ann, universal themes aren't limited to the classics, though. In fact, I think the most direct road to the universal is through the very personal.

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 286 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 07/31/1999 10:57:15 PM "Ann -

You bet I'll be there for Lolita! And on the umpty-umpth re-reread of one of my favorite books of all time.

I thought that was a very Nabokovian quote. He was very much a detail man, didn't have much use for messages or morals. (Don't get me wrong, I think that Lolita is ultimately a very moral book in it's own perverse way.

Bea, who doesn't see how it can be hotter tomorrow and doesn't want to believe the weatherman
" 14 63 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/01/1999 3:57:14 AM "BEATRICE

""LOLITA is ultimately a moral book?""

Reminds me of something one of my bosses used to say. ""Even the worst of us can be useful as a bad example.""

EDD who still wonders if he should have taken this personally.


" 14 286 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/01/1999 9:20:28 AM "EDD -

You betcha (IMHO). But I will leave all that for the discussion later.

Bea
" 14 286 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/01/1999 9:39:36 AM "I find myself in the odd position of replying to my own posting. Wanted to mention that for me one of the high points in Persuasion is when Sir Walter starts in on the number of ugly women blighting the aesthetics of Bath: ""...he had counted eighty-seven women go by, one after another, without there being a tolerable face among them. It had been a frosty morning to be sure, a sharp frost, which hardly one woman in a thousand could stand the test of. But still, there certainly were a dreadful number multitude of ugly women in Bath...""

Try as I might, I have been unable to find a single redeeming quality in Sir Walter.

Bea
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/01/1999 11:51:31 AM "Dottie and Bea, I'm very glad to hear you will be joining us on the LOLITA discussion (especially since it was my nomination -G-).

Edd's post quoted his old boss saying that even the worst of us can be useful as a bad example. Bea, that is absolutely the only good I can see in Sir Walter and his daughter Elizabeth. The part you quoted made me cringe when I read it. I would go so far as to say that these two characters are so broadly drawn that I couldn't really relate to them as real people. Mary was different, although it is difficult to think of redeeming qualities in her too. She was at least very human, and, as Dale said, the kind of person we all have unfortunately met from time to time. Horrors -- I even recognized aspects of my worst self in her!

Ruth, I absolutely agree that classics are not the only books that contain universal themes. I do think that this quality is what makes books endure from generation to generation. So here is a question for you and anyone else out there who has an opinion. What contemporary fiction have you read in the last 20 years or so that you think will attain classic status? Unfortunately, quality isn't the only factor that enters into this. An author has to be lucky enough to reach the right audience at the right time for his work to even be noticed.

Ann
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/01/1999 11:54:22 AM "Do you mean what have we read in the last 20 years or what has been written?

Ruth

Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/01/1999 12:45:26 PM "Ruth,
Could we narrow it down to something you have read in the last 20 years by an author who was living at the time you read the book?

Ann
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/01/1999 12:52:05 PM "Ruth,
For your response, please see the ""FUTURE CLASSICS?"" topic that I set up.

Ann
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/01/1999 6:54:51 PM "I picked up Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin at the library this week-end. As I'm skimming it (after listening to it on tape originally), I wanted to recommend it to all of you. It's a very readable and well-researched biography with specific comments on each of her books. Tomalin delves into possible psychological implications of events in Austen's life a bit too much for me, but that is my one and only criticism. A review from the N.Y. Times quoted on the jacket says: ""A biography that reflects Austen's own exacting standards, a book that radiates intelligence, wit and insight.""

The book has this quote under print of a painting of the man Jane Austen is reported to have loved:

Tom Lefroy is the chief subject of Jane Austen's earliest surviving letter, her 'Irish friend,"" with whom she enjoyed behaving outrageously at a dance. He was a law student from Ireland, a holiday visitor to his uncle in Hampshire and, at just twenty, the same age as she. He was also financially dependent on the good will of another uncle and, since neither he nor Jane had a penny, an engagement between them was out of the question: when it became obvious that they were falling in love he was sent smartly away. Jane joked about him, but it was a painful experience and she was still thinking of him three years later. He married an heiress and became Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. As a very old man he acknowledged when questioned, that he had loved Jane Austen in 1796.

Barb
" 14 148 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/02/1999 2:09:02 AM "I've just started this one last week, and haven't made much progress (Anne's nephew has just wrenched his back, and Mummy and Daddy have traipsed off to the Big House to party nevertheless.) I was distracted by Patrick Chamoiseau's School Days, a quick and excellent read and highly recommended. I will attack Austin this coming week.

I have Volume II of The Modern Library Complete Works, and will probably read Northanger Abby as well, since I've missed that one so far. I was surprised, reading the forenote, to find that Austin apparently published only six novels. Is this true, Barb?

The Modern Library edition has a portrait (of Austen?) - one of those 18th century engravings in which the pop-eyed subject appears to suffer from a thyroid condition.

Theresa
" 14 311 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/02/1999 12:32:03 PM "Where are the ""good"" qualities in Sir Walter or Elizabeth? Perhaps a round table discussion by those sensitive to literary issues and esthetics are not the ones to ask. I think of a sister I have--never reads, but works nonstop. She is as calculating as the character of Elizabeth--everything revolves around her and profit. I mean to email her and present the character of Elizabeth and see what she has to say. I believe she will believe there's not much wrong with someone diligently looking out to keep up family honor. She would probably also agree that she too would ignore a daydreaming waif like Anne.

I was re-reading Volume i and I came across this passage concerning the Musgroves and their ""Great House:""

To the Great House accordingly they went, to sit the full half hour in the old-fashioned square parlour, with a small carpet and shining floor, to which the present daughters of the house were gradually giving the proper air of confusion by a grand pianoforte and a harp, flower-stands and little tables placed in every direction. Oh! could the originals of the portraits against the wainscot, could the gentlemen in brown velvet and the ladies in blue satin have seen what was going on, have been conscious of such an overthrow of all order and neatness! The portraits themselves seemed to be staring in astonishment.

Question
Whose voice is this? Is this Austen condemning the decorating skills of some family? Is this the voice of Anne, whose ""thoughts"" open the paragraph in which the above-quoted passage completes?

If we assume it to be the voice of Austen, then she is evidently extremely traditional, for that's what the passage is all about. I wouldn't think that she would be a traditionalists, but I could be wrong.

If it is Anne, then she's a interior designing snob. I am curious as to what others make of this passage. I didn't really notice it the first read through, and now that I have it stands out. Whose voice is this?

Dan
" 14 304 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/02/1999 2:04:53 PM "About the following passage from PERSUASION,

""To the Great House accordingly they went, to sit the full half hour in the old-fashioned square parlour, with a small carpet and shining floor, to which the present daughters
of the house were gradually giving the proper air of confusion by a grand pianoforte and a harp, flower-stands and little tables placed in every direction. Oh! could the originals of the portraits against the wainscot, could the gentlemen in brown velvet and the ladies in blue satin have seen what was going on, have been conscious of such an overthrow of all order and neatness! The portraits themselves seemed to be staring in astonishment. ""

DAN wrote:

Question
Whose voice is this? Is this Austen condemning the decorating skills of some family? Is this the voice of Anne, whose ""thoughts"" open the paragraph in which the
above-quoted passage completes?

If we assume it to be the voice of Austen, then she is evidently extremely traditional, for that's what the passage is all about. I wouldn't think that she would be a
traditionalists, but I could be wrong.

If it is Anne, then she's a interior designing snob. I am curious as to what others make of this passage. I didn't
really notice it the first read through, and now that I have it stands out. Whose voice is this?

My answer to Dan's question is:

IMHO, this is Jane Austen, her veritable self. Her narratives are the pot; the stew in the pot consists of social commentary, a wry, humorous, ""what fools these mortals be"" survey of the foibles and hypocrisies of her time. She is not issuing a ""message."" She is painting a picture of the part of the world with which she was familiar, but she is seeing it clear and plain, unblinkered by the social pretenses of the period. Not malicious, just common sensical. And she invites us to share the fun of peeping under the tent.

I ask myself, ""Did her readers read her for the romance or because they enjoyed seeing their world served up in a spicy sauce?"" I note the plethora of characters in each novel - specimens. Was she, perhaps, Tom Wolfe's fairy godmother?

PRES
" 14 286 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/02/1999 2:14:08 PM "Re your question on decorating, I pretty much felt that most everything in the book was seen through Anne's perspective. However, I don't necessarily think that the quote indicates that Anne is a traditionalist. I got the impression that Anne approved of the Musgrove clan and rather envied them their friendly relations and informal manners. I thought it was the snobs in the portraits who Anne thought would have been horrified.

Speaking of point of view, there is a point in the book where Anne overhears Capt. Wentworth saying that Anne has changed. Anne tries to figure out the implications of that statement. Then Austen switches to a description of Wentworth's actual thoughts. I found this passage jarring and disturbing to the otherwise seamless unity of the book.

My question:

What do you all think the prospects for Frederick and Anne's marriage were?

Bea
" 14 58 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/02/1999 2:15:22 PM "Dan & Pres: Wow! We're getting into some meaty stuff, here, through Austen's lens on society.

I saw that passage as a tongue-in-cheek one from Austen's POV...I don't think the oldsters in the picture frames are disapproving of the actual decorating or housekeeping so much as they are the upsetting of the ""social order"" that they aspired to...children should be seen and not heard, everything should be spic-and-span, etc....but which was never really the case anyhow, only a myth they worked very hard to maintain. As does each generation, I think, who believes the next one is clearly in the runaway handcart bound straightest for Hades, even as we believe today. Myself, in particular.

Or, as some sage once commented, ""Things sure aren't like they used to be. And in fact, they never were.""

>>Dale in Ala's 2 cents, as the heat of the day shows no respite...
" 14 65 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/02/1999 3:59:17 PM "That passage DID grab me as I read -- I was a bit undecided whether it was just that Anne felt the older generation might find things offensive or whether she was also feeling a bit offended by the societal/decorative changes going on around her.

Bea, I have a passage here which I feel bears on your question concerning the prospects for their marriage.

In Chapter XI -- ""There was so much attachment to Captain Wentworth in all this, and such a bewitching charm in a degree of hospitality so uncommon, so unlike the usual style of give-and-take invitations, and dinners of formality and display, that Anne felt her spirits not likely to be benefited by an increasing acquaintance among his brother-officers. 'These would have been all my friends', was her thought; and she had to struggle against a great tendency to lowness.
Perhaps I am dense but I can't decide if she enjoyed this different level of socializing and felt sad it was not to be her life as she thought she had lost Wentworth or if she truly was NOT pleased with the difference and wanted not to be acquainted with such people. If it is the latter -- I would say that marriage may be rather an unhappy one.

Dottie
ID is an oxymoron!
" 14 286 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/02/1999 6:03:51 PM "Dottie -

I have mixed feelings about the marriage. On the one hand, I think that the easy conviviality of the Musgroves and the naval officers really appealed to her. After all, she had such a rough time at home with Sir Walter and Co. On the other hand, I can't quite see Anne as a Mrs. Croft type -- and Wentworth didn't believe in having ladies aboard ship. I see some long absences in their future. But maybe in this case the hearts would grow fonder?

Bea

" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/02/1999 7:30:56 PM "Bea,
Earlier you asked how Wentworth made his money. I found a brief reference in JANE AUSTEN IN HER TIME by W. A. Craik in which he says that Wentworth received prize money for capturing enemy vessels. He doesn't give any details except to say that this prize money could be substantial. ""One ship was awarded 200,000 pounds in 1805 for capturing some Spanish frigates."" Captain Wentworth is described as having ""five-and-twenty thousand pounds,"" and he is considered well-to-do, so 200,000 pounds is a huge sum. Presumably it was divided among the crew or officers.

A frigate is a war ship. It would be interesting to know if captains also received prizes for intercepting merchant ships trying to run blockades. Austen had two brothers who became admirals, and she presents naval men very positively. Dottie, regarding the passage you quoted, I think that Anne believes she would have been very happy having Wentworth's fellow naval officers and their families as her friends. She is feeling great regret that she passed up this opportunity.

People who come from unhappy families are always looking for substitute ones. Anne thinks the naval community could provide this, but the Musgroves also function as an alternative family for her. They are, of course, sometimes silly, but they are also very warm people who obviously care about her. She is delighted when they show up in Bath because they are such a pleasant contrast to her own father and sisters. Totally unlike Anne's family, they always put their children's happiness first. As a result, they approve marriages for both their daughters that some consider beneath them.

Bea asked, ""What do you all think the prospects for Frederick and
Anne's marriage were? ""

Why excellent, of course. Anne has shown that she can adapt herself to almost any circumstance and try to make the best of it. Frederick has a more impetuous nature and may prove to be a bit of a challenge to manage, but I think Anne will do quite well. (-G-) The only impediments I see are those imposed by the naval life itself, although I see Anne imitating Mrs. Croft and sailing with her husband on his assignments (pretty good trick in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars, eh?).

I have finished my reread. I would like to comment on the superb dialog between Anne and Captain Harville in Chapter XI on the difference between men and women regarding the constancy and intensity of love. It doesn't get much more romantic than this.

""All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one, you need not covet it) is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone.""

Too bad the follow up meeting between Wentworth and Anne falls somewhat flat -- too many generalities, and not enough dialog.

Ann
" 14 65 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/03/1999 2:22:48 AM "As I said -- I couldn't quite sort it out -- snobbish ness or sense of the loss of their company for herself as FW's wife. I didn't recall his not feeling women should not be on the ships but think he might change his mind for his own wife as he feels Anne to be such a different type of woman. So perhaps it has as much chance of faring well as any marriage and a better than average one as Anne is an astute person and they have suffered one long separation already.

Dottie
ID is an oxymoron!
" 14 224 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/03/1999 8:22:47 AM "I have a feeling that Wentworth might not want Anne on his ship. Remember how guilty he felt about Louisa's injury, fearing that he had not been protective enough to stop her from injuring herself? A ship in wartime is a dangerous place, and I would think he would be even more protective of Anne. Having survived one separation, they might feel able to take another.

But it seems a moot point. If the man has any sense--which he seems to--he'll retire from the navy and never go to sea again anyway.

I'd like to pose a question about the Mrs. Smith subplot. The only purpose of this seems to have been to discredit William Eliot, whom Anne has already seen through. Do you think her rejection of him could been dome just as effectively without the intervention of Mrs. Smith?

David
" 14 286 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/03/1999 8:52:29 AM "David -

Since Wentworth and Adm. Croft keep talking about another war as if it would be a bonanza, I can't see Wentworth staying home.

On the Mrs. Clay subplot, I don't know if it was necessary. However, it had me wondering about Anne's egalitarianism. Anne certainly saw her as an unworthy companion for Elizabeth and a totally unsuitable spouse for her father. The character wasn't developed enough that I noticed any particular objections Anne could have had other than her ""commonness"". Then again, she was a gold-digger and potential usurper of Anne's beloved mother.

Bea
" 14 311 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/04/1999 9:07:21 AM "Beatrice: A rather belated thank you for your wonderful commentary regarding that passage about the portraits I posed seemingly so long ago. I didn't quite see it that way when I pored over it, but your comment makes perfectly good sense: Anne LIKES the decorating scheme of the Musgrove women--it's not staid, it's full of life. Life is flowers, harps, etc, strewn about the parlour. And sure enough, that would upset those ancestors placed along the wainscotting so.

I would like to note the Florence Nightingale theme which seems so pervade the novel: Nurse Rooke takes care of Anne's old teacher, who still maintains a sense of joie de vivre. Anne ponders:

Hers is a line for seeing human nature; and she has a fund of good sense and observation which, as a companion, make her infinitely superior to thousands of those who, having only received 'the best education in the world,' know nothing worth attending to.

Anne could just as well be talking about herself as Mrs. Smith. When Mary refuses to stay with her injured son, Anne does--even at the cost of missing that soiree. Anne wanted to stay and help Henrietta, but she is told to leave. She didn't want to. And then Anne takes the time to visit Mrs. Smith, showing that quality of mercy in her character. It's not the trappings of society that make us human, Austen seems to stress, but it is our concern for humanity itself.

Dan

" 14 286 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/04/1999 9:53:52 AM "Daniel -

In rereading my posting, I realize that I stupidly got Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Clay confused. I think Mrs. Smith does fit in with the Florence Nightengale theme. Also, she is another illustration of Anne's growing ability to look beyond rank and class and judge people on their merits.

Bea
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/04/1999 5:48:23 PM "David,
As fate would have it, the British navy was not involved in a major war for decades. I have no doubt that Anne and Mrs. Croft would have convinced Wentworth to allow Anne on his ship, provided he still had one in those quieter times.

Bea,
You asked about Anne's egalitarian tendencies. I asked myself the same question about Austen. Although she had little patience with the pretensions of the minor nobility, I think she generally accepted her society's view of appropriate distances between the classes. Would the rest of you agree?

As Bea noticed, Mrs. Clay was considered horribly inappropriate as a potential spouse for Mr. Elliot. Of course, Austen also wished to play up the irony in her almost ensnaring him, in spite of the fact that Walter and Elizabeth were such first-class snobs. (Nobody ever accused them of being intelligent.)

Cousin Elliot's first wife was also considered a bad match because she came from the lower middle class, even though she was rich.

And I can't forget Harriet in EMMA whose low birth made a match between her and Knightly totally out of the question.

I wonder how Anne would have reacted to Wentworth when he later appeared on the scene if Lady Russell's predictions had proved true and he was still poor. What do you think?

" 14 286 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/04/1999 6:02:01 PM "I think a big part of what made Anne love Wentworth was his energy and optimism. If he had come back without making a success of himself in some way, she may have reconsidered her initial impression.

It was interesting, wasn't it, that money seemed to bridge class differences even among the snobs. 25,000 was enough to get Wentworth invited to the Elliot soiree in Bath.

Bea
" 14 311 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/04/1999 10:28:18 PM "Ann: I'm afraid my knowledge of Austen's biography is severely limited, but based on what works I have read I find she spends an inordinate amount of time creating characters who rebel with excellent reasons against the status quo. I don't think Anne's character could be so realistically articulated by someone with the mindset of Mary or Elizabeth. Austen continues to describe parlor cliques as insipid, snotty affairs. Austen would not strengthen her love of societal classes by writing novels which denigrate them, would she?

Dan
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/05/1999 8:28:51 AM "Daniel,
I've been meaning to write since I saw your note about the portraits in the Musgrove parlor. I think this is the first book of Austen's (that I've read) that reaches outside the restricted class structure of people who live inside whatever their inheritance, or marriage into inheritance, prescribes for them. Instead, we meet people who are making their own destiny, actually working for their living. And, Austen appears to be celebrating them, particularly in comparison to Sir Walter Elliott. The Musgroves seem to be one example of the new order. I thought that the portraits were ""staring in astonishment"" at ""the overthrow"" of their social order.

I've always felt that Austen was basically socially conservative in her other books though many of society's restrictions irritated her and provided wonderful fodder for her wit. However, in Persuasion, she seems to be moving beyond that and actually welcoming change. I've read that some of her brothers were in the Royal Navy which gave her a perfect known means to illustrate her thoughts.

Barb


" 14 304 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/05/1999 11:10:02 AM "BARB

""fodder for her wit"" is a wonderful phrase.

PRES
" 14 58 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/06/1999 2:58:55 PM """Real"" life obligations have forced me to move much more slowly through PERSUASION than I would like, but I have to say that the section I read last night at bedtime--the scene at the end of Chapter 9 where Wentworth inconspicuously takes the fussy child from Anne's neck, and her reflections on it in the moments afterward--is one of the high points of the book, for me.

To convey so much honest emotion, without lapsing into sentimentality, in so few words and in such an outwardly ""cool"" and formal style, is an accomplishment I can only marvel at. And is part of the reason, I suspect, why the book has so long outlived its author.

>>Dale in Ala.
" 14 65 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/06/1999 3:17:03 PM "To say so much of what was felt in such spare fashion made that passage one which struck me also! I think it reminded me of moments when my husband either did or did not surmise when I needed the girls to be taken in hand and a change made in the direction of their energies. It was such a tender gesture for him to make -- that one act seems to indicate what he would be like as a mate and parent.

Dottie
ID is an oxymoron!
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/06/1999 3:30:53 PM "Dale,
I think this is one book that gets better as it goes.

I am in the middle of Claire Tomalin's biography of Austen, which Barb recommended. This is very well done, and no small accomplishment considering how little is known about Austen's life. Her relatives burned many of her letters.

She had a large family, consisting of 1 sister and 6 brothers, all of whom lived to adulthood. Her siblings were very supportive of her and it sounds to me like she had a good life. Tomalin also mentions that Reverend Austen, her father, encouraged her writing and tried to find her a publisher. She says Austen's relationship with her mother was a bit distant, which she attributes to her mother's practice of farming out her children to a wet nurse for a a year to 18 months after she had nursed them at home for 3 to 4 months. (Obviously, the theory of maternal bonding hadn't taken hold yet). Jane was also sent to boarding school for a few years as a very young girl, which was not very pleasant, but overall she had a happy childhood with a lot of family support. Tomalin speculates that Austen was in love with an Irish gentleman who loved her, but needed to marry wealth due to family obligations. Austen's family had none.

I used to think it was sad that Austen wrote so much about love and marriage, while remaining single herself. Now I wonder how much would have been lost to literature if she had been saddled down with a husband and kids.

Ann
" 14 48 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/06/1999 8:06:58 PM "Hi, all. Last week I saw the long thread of notes on PERSUASION and just couldn't stand not having read the novel. So, a quick trip to the library remedied that, and I must report: LOVED it, LOVED it, LOVED it! I just finished today and wanted to jump in and share my joy; I haven't been this satisfied with a book in eons.

I realized when reading PERSUASION, though, how much I must skip over when I usually read. But I couldn't do that here and had to keep making myself go back and re-read---a much more careful process than usual.

The depiction of friendship--and the contrast between the pompous, ugly-acting Elliots and the friendly Musgroves and their chaotic household--was really lovely. As was the depiction of companionship between men and women; the portrait of the Crofts' marriage was quite tenderhearted. I loved the humor, the running joke of Walter Elliot and the mirrors and so on.

Another funny moment came toward the end. Remember when the Musgroves show up unexpectedly in Bath? Elizabeth is ""suffering a good deal"" over whether she should invite them to dinner. She doesn't want them to see the Elliots have less servants than they had at Kellynch. ""It was a struggle between propriety and vanity; but vanity got the better, and then Elizabeth was happy again."" There's a lot of this dry wit in PERSUASION, and I totally enjoyed it.

Your notes are great, all of you! It's been fun catching up with them.

Susan
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/06/1999 10:54:46 PM "Susan,
I'm so glad you joined in. Isn't Austen satisfying? Wasn't that scene at the end when Elizabeth solved the servant problem by having just a get-together instead of a dinner? I know some Elizabeths but they are rarely as honest about themselves as she was...they usually know that it's not politically correct anymore...so now they're just incredibly self-centered and thoughtless.

I agree with you about the tenderness in the scenes with the Crofts and the Musgroves. I don't remember quite that feeling from any of Austen's other novels...am I just forgetting?

Barb
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/06/1999 11:45:22 PM "And, thank you for the kindness, Pres. It feels very good when another constant reader tells you that you got the wording just right.

Barb
" 14 48 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/07/1999 7:25:27 AM "Barb, yes, the scene propriety/vanity scene is the one Elizabeth solves by having the get-together. She is probably very tired at the end of each day with all the calculating (of status, rank, etc.) she has to do!

It has been a while since I've read any other Austen novels, but like you, I don't recall in them the same tenderness that PERSUASION depicts.

I need to go through the novel and write down the funny lines I liked so much. And I'm not much of a romantic, but Captain Wentworth's letter and his ""You pierce my soul"" line were divine!

And cover-wise, the edition I have (a paperback: volume 2 of THE COMPLETE NOVELS OF JANE AUSTEN, with Northanger Abbey and Emma, also) depicts a man driving a carriage toward a country estate, with a woman in background.

Susan
" 14 173 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/07/1999 11:06:10 AM "Hello All--

As far as I can tell, Anne is only in danger from W.W. Elliot once. He arouses her interest when he mentions to her how highly 'people' have spoken of her... it appears that his attraction to her has grown out of the admiration of others. This is very seductive to Anne, and very clever on Elliot's part. As Anne says, the imagination grows wild when one's dear self is involved. I wonder if this is the secret reason Anne was persuaded to let Wentworth go at first-- he didn't deserve her, she must be saved for something greater because she was greater herself-- inherently more valuable. She consoles herself by thinking that she lets Wentworth go for his own advantage, and how often are the consolations we use on ourselves the exact opposite of what's really going on? Meanwhile, Anne loses her bloom and most of her fire when Wentworth goes because she's left in a cage with people who have no untainted interest in her, and she needs pure, loving interest from someone because she can't provide it for herself, at least, not yet. Sir Walter's raging vanity, Mary's selfishness, Elizabeth's aloofness, these are all signs of the dangers of twisted self-regard. And lurking behind all the clutter is the image of Anne's mother, hating death because it deprives her children, without much thought for herself... But the sadness of the book's 'happy' ending, the having to 'brook' happiness, I don't quite understand. Is it because Lady Russell (the mother-surrogate) has to be sacrificed? Or is it because the two lovers had to learn too much about the other people they used to send messages to each other, the people that transmitted their affections like an electric charge? Or something else entirely? I can't decide...

George
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/08/1999 9:27:14 PM "Susan,
I'm so glad that you found the time to read PERSUASION and join our discussion. This has certainly proved to be a popular selection. I think one of the main reasons is that it revolves around the opportunity for second chances, something we all secretly wish for and so rarely experience. It's quite seductive.

George, could you expand a bit more on your feeling that there is sadness in the happy ending? I didn't really think of it that way, but maybe that's because I'm too much of a romantic at heart.

Ann
" 14 48 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/09/1999 9:59:11 AM "Ann, I totally enjoyed the second-chances aspects of PERSUASION and admit that the romantic plot-line had me glued to my chair, wanting to see whom Anne would end up with. Those Elliots (Walter & Elizabeth) were such a vain twosome, too; they really made me laugh.

George, r.e., the line about Captain Wentworth's having to ""brook"" happiness, I saw it this way: Prior to Anne's agreeing to marry him, everything he had wanted he'd had to strive for; this includes not only his navy successes but also Anne herself. So, when he finally gets what he wants (i.e., the hand of Anne in marriage), he must learn to enjoy what life is like without striving.

Susan
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/10/1999 7:08:22 AM "Ann, I was delighted to see that you are reading the Tomalin biography of Austen. I've listened to one other Austen biography and this one was, by far, the better of the two.

One of the factors that I found most interesting (and a bit sad) was Austen's position after her father and mother died. Both she and Cassandra (her sister who also didn't marry) lived at the whim of the brothers' families who might want them as houseguests, moving from place to place, as I remember. And, of course, they were expected to aid with new babies and generally assist with extra work needed in the house. Cassandra was far more resigned to this station in life than Jane was.

The amount of time it took her to get those first books published also stuck in my head. I have the biography checked out now from the library and have been skimming it to refresh myself on a few things. It says that she wrote Pride & Prejudice when she was 20 and it was finally published when she was 37. There was a 16 yr. gap between writing and publishing Sense & Sensibility. Northanger Abbey was written before Pride & Prejudice and didn't appear in print until after her death. Of course, she also seems to have tinkered with them a lot during those gaps so there was a tiny positive side. However, your comment about the result if she had married is interesting. I can't imagine that she would have had time to persevere against those kinds of odds if she had acquired a husband and children. As it was, the writing situation that Tomalin describes sounds very difficult...writing in the moments around the duties expected of her. Also, the other biography I listened to agreed with Tomalin that Austen wrote nothing for 10 years after her parents sold their house to her brother and moved themselves, Jane and Cassandra to Bath. I find it interesting when Bath appears in her novels since she was so unhappy to be required to live there.

If I remember correctly, she made some very pithy comments in her letters about marriages in which the wife is constantly pregnant and ultimately dies young. Austen certainly wasn't a feminist, but it's interesting to hear her take on the female situation in her world.

Do you have any more impressions from your Tomalin reading? If any sections strike you as particularly worth rereading, let me know while I still have it borrowed from the library.

Barb
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/10/1999 7:16:34 AM "Writing the above note made me realize that I never answered Theresa's question. Yes, Austen only wrote 6 novels:

Northanger Abbey
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
Mansfield Park
Emma
Persuasion

I am fairly sure that I've listed them in the order they were written except Mansfield Park and Emma. Do I have those two correctly sequenced, Ann?

Barb
" 14 250 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/10/1999 8:23:22 AM "I read Persuasion on the Internet Public Library while it was slow at work. They have several more works listed than the 6 you listed above. Most of them are short stories. A couple seem to be the beginnings of novels. All appear to have been written by Austen when she was a teenager, and published as part of a collection after her death.

Here's the address for Austen's work at the Internet Public Library:

http://readroom.ipl.org/bin/ipl/ipl.books-idx.pl

Karen
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/10/1999 1:56:22 PM "Karen,
When I click that link, it says that I need to supply a key word or phrase to do the search, but there's no place to supply it.
Can you give me the link to the library itself? Sounds terrific.

Barb
" 14 250 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/10/1999 2:52:05 PM "Barb --

The Internet Public Library is

http://www.ipl.com

If a book is in the public domain, and is available somewhere on the internet, they have a link to it. I read Persuasion this way, as I mentioned, and just started on Ulysses this afternoon.

I now have 3 books going -- Ulysses, Swann's Way by Marcel Proust, and Chaos: the Making of a Science by James Gleick. The first to read at work when it's slow (I can look busy and really be reading and there's nothing better than that); the second to read on the commute to and from work (it's a very portable sized hardcover); the third to read at home, usually in the tub. My family doesn't understand how I can keep track of what's happening in all the books, but the books are all so different from each other, that I don't find it difficult at all.

Karen
" 14 65 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/10/1999 6:12:38 PM "Karen -- I often have three or sometimes even more books going but I think these are three heavyweights at once so I am properly in awe!
I DO know what you mean about books which differ so much that keeping things straight is not a problem!

Dottie -- who has begun properly now on the third volume of her Proust set and is enjoying it once more after a major book binge the past two weeks!
ID is an oxymoron!
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/10/1999 8:34:21 PM "Barb,
I have reached the point in the biography where Jane's parents decided to give up the family parsonage to her brother and move to Bath -- all without consulting her. Cassandra and Jane were forced to give up the only home they had ever known to accompany them. This was a great move for her parents who had worked hard for many years running a boys school in addition to the father's work as a minister, and who wanted to retire. However, it was extremely difficult for Jane. No wonder she so disliked Bath!

Tomalin speculates that Austen became depressed and that is one reason she wrote so little in the next 10 years. The dependency forced on her as a single woman must have been very difficult for such a clever, spirited person. And you mentioned that it became much worse after her parents died!

Then again, who knows -- if her life had been too easy, maybe she would never have been motivated to write. I don't see how she could have if she had married and had children. Tomalin mentions more than one woman Austen knew who died in childbirth after her 10th child or so. Some of the women during this period were pregnant virtually all of the time (dreadful thought).

Tomalin does get pretty speculative about Jane's romance with the young man from Ireland and her acceptance and then refusal the next day of a proposal from a well-to-do neighbor, who was the brother of close friends. But she doesn't have much choice. Austen didn't write memoirs and her relatives destroyed many of her letters. I almost feel guilty trying to delve into her private affairs myself, but you know what a weakness I have for literary biography.

I used to think that there was something sad about Austen writing all of these great romances when she missed out on one herself. However, she obviously wanted to write about women and during this period not much happened to women except marriage and children. At least her heroines fall in love and don't have to pay too high a price for the financial security they need so badly.

Also, if Kent is still around, I am racking my brains trying to figure out why Mark Twain hated Austen.

Ann


P.S. Karen, I want your job!



" 14 286 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/10/1999 9:23:26 PM "I don't have a copy of the book any longer, but Virginia Woolfe, in A Room of One's Own, had a theory to explain why there aren't so many ""great"" women writers (her opinion, not mine). Her thesis was that a great writer required 500 pounds a year and a room of his/her own. I think she used Jane Austen as an example of a woman who achieved greatness due to her possession of independent means and privacy. But seems she didn't take into account all those nieces and nephews! Makes Austen's achievement seem even more remarkable. Bea
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/11/1999 6:03:34 AM "The Internet Public Library site is terrific, Karen. Thank you! I have it bookmarked now and I'm sure it will get a lot of use. Almost all of the other writings that they have by Austen are from her ""Juvenalia"", writings of her youth. I also think there is some sort of essay in there. The six titles I listed are her only finished novels.

Barb

" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/11/1999 6:13:56 AM "If I remember correctly, Jane's sister, Cassandra submitted more completely to the needs of her brother's families. Jane always tried to carve out some time for herself in which to write. However, the circumstances sounded overwhelmingly difficult to me. I suppose, Bea, in comparison to some female writers with husbands and children and/or families with no money at all, Jane was fortunate. However, neither biography I've read says that Jane had a writing room of her own, I don't think. She shared a room with Cassandra at home. I think Tomalin described a writing place within that room. Later, I can't imagine such a luxury in other people's houses. I also think I remember a scene in which she was writing in the kitchen while on the fly later in life. Are you finding more specific information on that, Ann?

Barb
" 14 22 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/11/1999 7:00:41 AM "When I tried the link you posted, I ended up at ""Internet Pro Link"", not Internet Public Library. Is that weird or what? I just want to add that I finished Persuasion and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm also impressed by the notes here (but why am I surprised). I wish I had the time to write down my thoughts, but at this point, they would be repetitive. One comment I have, and I wonder why in the world this thought came to me in the middle of my boxes and cartons: When people moved in those days, they leave everything in the house, and just take a few personal possessions. The house included all the trappings. I was sure envious of that detail. Can you imagine what it would take in those days without United Van Lines? Sorry to get frivolous, but that seems to be the state of my mind, lately.
Sherry
" 14 250 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/11/1999 8:30:02 AM "Ann -- I just started this job in March, and am greatly appreciating it. I work at a large law firm (300+ attorneys). Of course, the firm rakes in the dough. I worked in various areas of a hospital for 11 years prior to this. That hospital declared bankruptcy and closed. It is very different to work in a place that actually has money, and pays you full time wages to do about 2 hours of actual work a day. It can be awfully boring since I do have to sit at my desk and can't actually whip out a book. Boy was I glad when I found the Internet Public Library!

Dottie -- It is true these are rather heavyweight. I kind of got used to having a lot of heavyweight material on my brain because of school. I think I mentioned on this board I just graduated June 10 with my Bachelor's. For the 4 semesters prior to that, I took 12 credits a semester and worked full time at a job which was much more stressful than the one I have now. It is a luxury to read the books I most want to read, at whatever pace I want to read them, regardless of how heavyweight they are.

I am very much enjoying Swann's Way. The description is captivating. I can't believe how long his sentences are -- I frequently have to reread because he goes off on so many tangents that by the end of a sentence I've forgotten what the original point is. As of this morning, I am on page 210 (the version of the book I have has 611 pages), and he has just seen Swann's daughter for the first time, while on a walk with his father and grandfather.

Sherry -- Did you eventually get to the Internet Public Library? It is one of the most exciting things I've ever found on the web. (That most exciting list would, of course, have to include this board {g})!

Karen
" 14 58 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/11/1999 9:13:41 AM "Karen: Thanks for the tip about the Internet Public Library.

The actual address for the site, I think, is http://www.ipl.org


>>Dale in Ala.
" 14 250 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/11/1999 10:25:10 AM "You are correct Dale. Sorry about that everyone.

Karen
" 14 22 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/11/1999 2:09:19 PM "Yes, Karen, I found the IPLibrary from Dale's link. I haven't explored it yet. Looks inviting. I don't think I could read a whole book at my monitor, though.
Sherry
" 14 250 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/11/1999 3:06:20 PM "In order to read off my monitor, I increase the size of the font significantly. I also sometimes change the font. I hate reading Courier, which is the font any plain text document will be in.

Karen
" 14 107 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/12/1999 9:30:02 PM "Karen, Sherry, Dale,
Are you saying that you can read books on your own computer when you pull down the public library? Gads, got to try that. If this works out nobody is going to buy books and books will truly be cheaper than wall paper as Ruth always says. Where is all this going to end.

Ann,
Is Kaffkas's trial next? That's what my notes tell me.
Ernie left behind by technology.
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/12/1999 10:46:50 PM "I don't see how anyone can sit and read a book off a monitor. There's certainly no way I could do it. I'd have to print it out, and then I'd have a pile of unbound paper to shuffle through, and drop on the floor and mix up. Well, maybe I could have it bound at Kinko's, and it still might be cheaper than wallpaper, but not nearly as pretty.

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/13/1999 7:47:13 AM "I have trouble reading on the computer too, Ruth. That's why the newspapers on-line never attract me, other than short articles. However, I am going to try Karen's suggestion of changing the fonts and making them larger to see if I can read a bit longer. I can't figure out how I'd ever curl up in my favorite chair or in bed with my computer though.

Barb
" 14 250 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/13/1999 8:43:32 AM "Ernie --

The trick with the books on the computer is that they must be in the public domain. Most of the books on the web are, therefore, 'classic' books. No new books, so we can't swear off buying books.

There are also a couple of places where authors can pay to self-publish books on the web and anyone can read them.

Ruth -- I've tried printing them off a chapter or so at a time, and haven't really enjoyed reading them that way.

There are 2 main reasons I find these books on the web useful. One is being able to read while I'm at work, while looking like I'm working. The other doesn't really apply anymore, but when I was in school, it made doing papers easier. For example, I was working on a paper about what risk meant in a couple of different novels. One of those novels was on the Internet Public Library. I copied and pasted the book into Microsoft Word, did a search on the word 'risk' and copied and pasted the paragraphs about risk into a second Word document, which I then printed off. I correlated the risk references to the page numbers in my hard copy of the book, and could then go back and forth between the two if I needed more information while writing the paper. This was much easier than trying to go through the book and find all those references myself.

Karen
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/13/1999 10:39:56 AM "I can see where that would be handy, Karen. In fact, in the last couple of years I've thought to myself, when paging through a book looking for something, how much easier it would be if I could just hit a Search button.

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/13/1999 10:37:59 PM "Ernie,
Yes, Kafka's THE TRIAL is the book for next month.

Ann
" 14 107 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/13/1999 11:41:20 PM "Thanks Ann,
Hope to get started on it soon. I remember hardly anything about this book as I read it so many years ago.
Ernie
" 14 65 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/14/1999 1:41:30 AM "Well, surprise,surprise -- when this was mentioned earlier I thought I don't have it here. Just now I went and actually LOOKED and -- there it is on the shelf. I had convinced myself I didn't buy a copy -- but I must have put it back on the stack and truckled off top the cash register with it after all! So I will join in -- I haven't read this before so I am expanding my horizons here thanks to CC!

Dottie
ID is an oxymoron!
" 14 311 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/14/1999 7:22:51 PM "Barbara: Thanks for your statement from way back when.

Wouldn't some think that Austen uses the characters of the Crofts to depict Anne and Wentworth in the future? The Crofts couple seems to serve as a foresight of what life will be like for Wentworth and Anne after years of marriage. They are happy perambulating about and such.

Dan
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/15/1999 12:28:25 PM "Dan,
Good point about the Crofts representing the future Wentworths. That is exactly how I envisaged them.

Ann
" 14 148 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/16/1999 12:43:20 AM "I'm almost done with this book. I am enjoying it, but I don't think it is one of Austen's best (Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice are neck and neck there.) Most of her characters are caricatures, but so deftly drawn in other novels that the caricaturization (??) doesn't override. That is not always the case in Persuasion (perhaps because Austen did not have the opportunity to polish it before she died.)

I laughed at Wentworth's utter uselessness when Louise injured herself while being ""jumped."" Anne had to take charge of that situation. Wasn't Wentworth commander of a naval vessel, succesful in combat? So he behaves like a ninny at a minor injury, instead of being useful? I don't think so.

I think I compared Tanizaki to Austen when we discussed Makioka Sisters. The formality of the social dance struck me again here. Also, the manner of description when introducing new characters, or when Austen reveals the thoughts of her characters about each other, is very similar to many Japanese novels.

Finally, Anne and her sisters have very good reason not to wish their father to re-marry, especially to a young wife. Elizabeth would lose her place as mistress of the household (and place was very important to Elizabeth.) And a young wife could have a son - a half-brother and a step-mother sure to live long after their father's death would be really, really bad for these girls, who are already in a tenuous position unless they make good marriages.

Theresa
" 14 58 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/16/1999 10:10:59 AM "Theresa & All: I had no trouble believing that Wentworth, though a naval commander, would wimp out at dealing with a minor injury. Over the years I've had many clients who, despite being CEOs of sizeable corporations, had no idea how to switch on an office computer or transfer a phone call. They had layers and layers of underlings to handle the down-and-dirty stuff, and I'd imagine the same could be true in the stratified ranks of the British navy.

And, an ""amen"" to whoever remarked that high society in Austen's time could be a hideous spectacle. I'm reminded of what one of my favorite American philosophers--Don Henley of The Eagles--wrote in a song lyric about the emptiness of the whole money-and-glitz trip:

""Beautiful faces and loud empty places;
Look at the way that we live.
Wasting our time on cheap talk and wine
Left us so little to give.
That same old crowd was like a cold dark cloud
That we could never rise above;
But here in my heart
I give you the best of my love...""

>>Dale in Ala.
" 14 148 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/17/1999 1:34:06 AM "Sorry, Dale, I detest the Eagles. They remind me of junior high school for some reason, and who the heck wants to be reminded of junior high school?

Also, I think there is a difference between a captain of industry not being able to run a fax machine, and a captain of a ship not being able to do the equivalent of finding someone to run the darn thing for him. Wentworth's reaction thre just didn't ring true for me. This book is flawed Austen, anyway. It just doesn't ""balance"" the way S&S and P&P do.

Theresa


" 14 304 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/17/1999 12:05:07 PM "In my considered judgement (BG), if Austen's novels are put to a straw vote, Persuasion would most likely withdraw from the race, being unable to attract the necessary funds.

For my taste, P lacks the genteel zing of P&P, S&S, or Emma, but rather has a nice autumnal, brown leaves quality. But does anyone here think s/he wasted her/is time reading it? Did anyone out and out dislike it? Fie!

PRES, who has more than one foot in the late Eighteenth century.
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/17/1999 2:58:39 PM "Well, I didn't out and out dislike it, Pres, but I did get distracted by another book and when Persuasion came due at the library, I took it back unfinished with nary a second thought.

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/17/1999 4:26:34 PM "I still haven't read Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park, but I have read all the rest and Persuasion may be my favorite. I know that the writing is not as tight as in the other novels. However, I like Austen's voice in this one. It's more outward-looking with a mellow wisdom, but still a wonderful wit about it.

I just reread the part of Margaret Drabble's introduction to my edition which addresses this same subject. She points out many flaws in its development including the weaknesses in the handling of Mr. Elliott and Mrs. Clay's intrigues. She says that the whole device of Mrs. Smith and her connections with Mr. Elliott and Anne are artistically unacceptable because too much is left to chance revelation. She even quotes some very critical comments about the book from Virginia Woolf.

Drabble goes on to say though that she doesn't think that any of these flaws ""can mar the appeal and power of this last work."" Oh, I was going to paraphrase the rest of it, but I'll just give it to you verbatim:

I find it perhaps most remarkable for its unexpected generosities and for its welcoming of the possibility of a new order. Sir Walter is dismissed as 'a foolish spendthrift baronet', a casuality of the ancien regime and Frederick Wentworth is greeted as a portent of a new and more active world. It is a world which depends still on influence and patronage...but is also a world in which individual merit can rise. Anne praises the male option to Captain Harville: 'You can always have a profession, pursuits, business of some sort or other,' and we have seen the naval life (unlike the daily lives of Mr. Bennet, Mr. Woodhouse, Mr. Bingley, Charles Musgrove) to be useful, varied and challenging. The days of the idle landowner and rentier may be numbered: enter the professional classes. And of all Jane Austen's heroines (with the possible exception of Elizabeth Bennet), Anne Wentworth looks forward to a life of color, activity, interest and change: she is released from the ""quiet, confined"" female existence in which, as she says, 'our feelings prey upon us', into the glory of being a sailor's wife and the 'tax of quick alarm.'
The fact that we are intended to greet the challenge of that 'quick alarm' and not to shrink from it says much about the prevailing mood of this curiously energetic novel. Mellow it may be, but it is not weak. Its author while she was writing it may have suspected herself to be seriously, even fatally ill, but this is no dying fall.


Interesting perspective, I thought...probably because it fits with my own impressions.

Barb
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/17/1999 8:50:03 PM "I loved PERSUASION too, Barb. I suspect one's reaction to it depends a bit on how much of a romantic you are at heart.

Ann, usually a terrible cynic -- promise.
" 14 173 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/18/1999 3:14:15 AM "Just as a side note, America's leading literary critic, Harold Bloom, wrote a controversial book a few years back called 'The Western Canon' in which he attempted to construct a list of 'essential' classics. He only chose to discuss 8 novels from that list in depth, and Persuasion was one of them. He called the book a 'strong, subdued outrider' among classics, and working from Henry James' line that a novelist should be a sensibility upon which absolutely nothing is lost, comes to the (surprising?) judgement that Anne is the one character in all of prose fiction upon whom nothing is lost...
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/18/1999 7:23:12 AM "Oh, thank you, George! I have that Bloom's Canon on my bookshelf and usually check it on all of our classics, but have been forgetting to do so lately. I often don't agree with him but love to read his slant on things. A few years ago though, we read Bleak House by Dickens here. I nominated it because Bloom thought it was Dickens' best. I barely survived it and it has soured me for a while on Dickens. I'm hoping to try again on next year's CC list. My son thinks that Tale of Two Cities is outstanding.

Bloom also highlights Hadji Murad by Tolstoy in his chapter on the author, calling it his ""personal touchstone for the sublime of prose fiction, to me the best story in the world, or at least the best that I have read."" He doesn't list it in his appendix, however, which I find interesting. In any case, I am very glad that I read Hadji Murad and Tolstoy is among my most favorite authors. I don't rate the story as highly as he did though.

But, as I said, thanks again. Bloom always gets me thinking.

Barb
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/18/1999 7:24:46 AM "Ann, you may be right. I can be a hopeless romantic. Makes you wonder about Drabble, doesn't it?

Barb
" 14 173 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/18/1999 9:59:30 PM "Barbara--

Glad to hear of a son reading Tale of Two Cities... it warms my heart. Oh, and Bloom does list Hadji Murad in the appendix (it's under 'short novels', which also includes 'Ivan Ilich, Master and Man, and The Cossacks' among others). Bloom does say the story is the best to HIM, a personal touchstone, and given his aesthetic outlook it's easy to see why. As for his take on Persuasion, I love that he loves Anne... it's hard to find anyone willing to get emotionally attached to fictional characters anymore, but reading shouldn't be all intellect and cross-referencing authorial biographies to novels... a great book should impact your heart as well as your mind!
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/19/1999 7:42:32 AM "So, the listing of Short Novels assumes Hadji Murad? Interesting. I should hasten to add that I loved Hadji Murad and might not have found it without Bloom's emphasis on it. I was just surprised that he noted it in the chapter above all else that Tolstoy wrote. Personal touchstone probably is the key, however.

I agree that Bloom's attitude toward Anne is kind of heartwarming...I can't think of a better word and that one keeps springing to mind. I've read that chapter now and, at the beginning of the Austen section, he struck me as almost willfully obtuse. However, as it goes on, he seems to just let his admiration for this character, and for Austen, bubble out. It's these kinds of chapters that make me keep coming back to see what he has to say.

If your heart is warmed by a son reading A Tale of Two Cities, you'll love to know that his assigned reading for the summer is War and Peace. He was a little intimidated by it initially, but it looks like he's going to have it finished on time. What's even more important, he likes it and Tolstoy has him thinking and talking about all sorts of philosophical issues. He has lucked into an incredibly good Honors English program in high school. I am grateful to them because they've truly enhanced his love of reading.

Barb
" 14 208 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/19/1999 1:42:59 PM "George,

I'm not sure if you meant literary critics or the reading public in
general when you said that ""it's hard to find anyone willing to get
emotionally attached to fictional characters anymore, but reading
shouldn't be all intellect and cross-referencing authorial biographies
to novels... a great book should impact your heart as well as your
mind"".
If you meant the general public, then I can assure you that in the book
lists that I subscribe to, there still are people who become very
attached to their favourite fictional characters. For me, I find that
the books that I enjoy and reread are those that are not only
intellectually satisfying but also contain characters that I love and
enjoy spending time with.

Ee Lin " 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/19/1999 3:34:19 PM "Me, too, Ee Lin. No matter how intellectually competent a book is, if I don't care about the characters, it doesn't work for me.

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 250 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/19/1999 3:36:09 PM "Does everyone see the bar separating Ee lin's posting and Ruth's as green? Ruth, did you do something to make it green?

Karen
" 14 76 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/19/1999 8:29:01 PM "Karen - no I don't see a green bar. Ee Lin's bar does have a little ""by e-mail"" sign next to it that I've never noticed before though. Maybe Jerry has put in a software upgrade or patch.

Ee Lin - I also need to care about the characters in the books I've read. I finished PERSUASION before the discussion began and nothing in the book touched me, I didn't hate it I just wasn't moved by it, nor could I sympathize with any of the characters. But I have so enjoyed reading this discussion - it's been great!! The depth of the postings and subjects that came up have impressed me.

Dawn
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/19/1999 11:25:30 PM "I don't see any green bar, either. Just the usual sort of tan one.

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 208 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/20/1999 3:54:03 AM "Ruth and Karen,
I don't see a green bar either but the little email sign is because I sent the post by email instead of using the webboard. The digests are sent to me by email too.

Dawn,
I read Persuasion last year and remember getting a little bored with it and skimmed a good bit. I usually like Jane Austen's work especially Pride and Prejudice. This time, I'm reading it online a couple of chapters a days and it seems to be more interesting that way. Perhaps the chapters are short enough to hold my interest.

Do you think we usually like the characters in a story because the author tries to make the reader sympathetic towards them? What if this weren't the case, what if the author deliberately made the characters quite abhorrent? I guess you could get characters so repellent that you find them fascinating and read on just to find out what happens to them.

This reminds me of Lolita which is on the CC list so I won't say much except to say that Nabokov's writing prowess was so good that despite my abhorrence for the actions of the protagonist, I also felt strangely sympathetic towards him.

Ee Lin
" 14 173 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/20/1999 5:55:29 AM "Barbara--

Best of luck to your son... but he's off to a great start on the reading front! The Honors English program in my High School, as far as I can remember, consisted of watching the movie Inherit the Wind 18 times and throwing crumpled balls of paper at each other during a discussion of The Lottery (without realizing the irony at the time...) Glad he's in a better program than that.

Ee Lin--

You're right, I did mean literary critics when I mentioned the baffling lack of passion I've often found in essays claiming to be definitive 'explanations' of great works. The general public will always (hopefully) have elements lurking in it that feel strongly about the books they read.
As for characters being repellent and fascinating, Chaucer's The Pardoner's Tale not only has a hero-villain that is disturbing and attractive at the same time, but the Pardoner realizes and exploits this to his own advantage until he takes it too far, and commits social and professional suicide... it is a brilliant tour de force on Chaucer's part and a fascinating study in anti-heroism. It took a poet as great as Milton to trump Chaucer in Paradise Lost, where the character devoted to the destruction of the reader (Satan) outshines all the forces of good arrayed on our side...
" 14 76 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/20/1999 4:10:02 PM "Ee Lin,
I don't think I have to like a character but I do have to at least be interested in his/her problem or situation. WUTHERING HEIGHTS' characters couldn't pull me in but IVAN ILYICH who also wasn't likable did. There are also despicable characters who easily grab your attention with their sensationalism or or from the author's ability to make them real. If everyone only wanted to read about good people they couldn't sell newspapers.

Dawn who usually only reads the comics.
" 14 58 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/20/1999 4:24:50 PM "Dawn & All: I'm reminded of the old expression ""a character you love to hate."" Also of a screenwriting workshop I took once, whose teacher said, ""A screenplay is only as strong as its villain."" Some truth in that, I think...even if the villain is inanimate (towering infernos, twisters, lava, comets, ad infinitum).

>>Dale in Ala.
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/20/1999 7:36:05 PM "When I say I have to care about a character, it doesn't mean I have to like him or her, but they have to real enough, and human enough to draw me in.

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 67 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/21/1999 12:36:10 PM "Despite a slow beginning and the mental calibration necessary to comprehend the language and cadence of this earlier time and place, I found myself fully drawn into the novel and was easily persuaded to become Anne's confidant. It was inevitable that my interest be piqued as we share a parallel experience and this awareness crept over me with the pace of a lady's progression through a decorum laden day.
Forgive my skinny dipping in this collective pool, but once again I have a personal experience to share. My father persuaded me to become a doctor. Being a highly successful man who clearly loved me, his eloquent entreaty held enough clout to derail my dreams in deference to his experienced rationale. I completed a six year odyssey which yielded an MD degree, clearing the way to a profession I never entered. There followed an extended effort to regain my footing.
Here is where the theme of PERSUASION hit home. I felt a natural affinity with Ann Elliot throughout, although exactly why didn't dawn on me until well into the novel. At first I was expecting Lady Russell to be unmasked as a cunning destroyer, as was Mr. Elliot, but it rang true in the end that she was a loving friend. Only someone you trust can persuade you away from something of major importance.
Is being persuaded in this manner a tragedy? I would argue not (and perhaps I am blind to that possibility.) At the end of the novel Anne concludes: ""I have been thinking over the past, and trying impartially to judge of the right and wrong, I mean with regard to myself; and I must believe that I was right, much as I suffered from it, that I was perfectly right in being guided…..I am not saying that she did not err in her advice. It was perhaps one of those cases in which advice is good or bad only as the event decides."" There is further evidence that the circumstances of Anne and Captain Wentworth's future were enhanced, enriched by the painful delay of their marriage. Part of the thematic conclusion of the novel is that one will never know if the road not taken was the better way to go.

Robt
" 14 48 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/21/1999 9:14:54 PM "Robt, what an interesting note! With your M.D., you're in good company with Chekhov and Walker Percy. I was completely drawn into PERSUASION, too, & was touched by its generosity of spirit.

Susan
" 14 67 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/22/1999 8:26:00 AM "Susan,

Thanks. How about William Carlos Williams?

All,

The PERSUASION edition I read was a 1997 Penguin Classics paperback with an introduction by Gillian Beer. I skipped the introduction even though I wanted some background info for my first Austin novel, but was just too impatient. I eventually read the introduction after I finished the novel which was interesting and helped clarify all sorts of things. However, the introduction was a plot spoiler that went into detail about Mr. Elliot's duplicity and Anne's eventual reunion with Wentworth. Is there some unspoken understanding that it is okay for the introduction of a classic to be a plot spoiler? Has anyone else come across this? I might write to Ms. Beer and ask why she chose to discuss the ending and suggest that the commentary be placed after the novel and not before. I'm leery of reading introductions now.

Robt
" 14 313 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/22/1999 9:45:23 AM "Robt,
Your note was very interesting to me, especially since I have a son going to college this year who doesn't really know what to do with his life. I can see there is a fine line between guidance and unconscious pressure. I need to watch it. Your comments about Lady Russell were very perceptive.

Introductions to classic novels generally do give away the plot, so I try not to read them until I have finished the book. Another reason is that I am impressionable and I like to form my own opinions of the characters and plot before I read someone else's. If I don't, their arguments make it difficult for me to form independent reactions.

It's a shame they don't put these articles in the back of the book because they really are an analysis of the book, rather than an introduction per se.

Ann


" 14 208 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/24/1999 4:19:53 AM "Ruth and all, I agree with your take on the characters having to be well-fleshed out to draw you in.

George, I have never read Chaucer and Milton and am wary of trying them. They seem like incredibly difficult reads to me.

Robt, I enjoyed reading your note. So, what are you doing now? I am in the last stages of my PhD and I'm still unsure of what I would really like to do. :-)

Ee Lin
" 14 25 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/24/1999 1:05:37 PM "Robt.,
I'm certainly glad you chose to ""skinny dip in our collective pool"". Deciding whether to share personal history on-line is a dilemma, but I love the texture it adds to these relationships that I value so much. Your experience reminded me of a man who worked for my husband one year, as essentially a paralegal though he didn't have the training. He was an artist who had also been admitted to the U of Michigan medical school. However, he ultimately turned down the admission because he wanted to pursue his career in art. His father was a doctor, as was his wife's father, so you can imagine the worry this decision engendered. They ultimately moved to NY City and he found a niche illustrating children's books. A few years ago, I saw one of his books in Barnes & Noble, this time both written and illustrated by him. It was a happy result of a very difficult decision, I think. However, knowing the agony they went through prior to even starting medical school, I can't imagine what it must've been like for you after completing the whole process.

Also, you give me excellent perspective on that last part of the novel when Anne speculates that Lady Russell may have been right to delay her. At the time, I read it, I had a hard time accepting...Anne seemed a bit too docile again. However, I can see your point. Those who love us do their best to guide us, then we decide what to do with that guidance. This comes home to me even more as my oldest boy (17) starts making more important life decisions.

Re: the Introduction problem, I now make it a policy to read them only after finishing the book too. I was given that advice once after taking forever to start a book because of being bogged down in the Introduction, but it works for all of the reasons that Ann gave too (plot spoilers, influencing my reactions). The Introduction to my edition of Dosteovsky's The Idiot had this warning before its text: ""Note: Readers who don't want to know the plot of The Idiot beforehand might prefer to read this Introduction after the book itself."" I wish this note was used more often.

However, I do love the Introductions to books, especially the classics. They frequently greatly enhance the whole experience, almost as good as a Classics Corner discussion.

Barb
" 14 67 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/24/1999 2:14:09 PM "Susan, Ann, Ee Lin, Barb,

Thanks for your comments!

Ee Lin,

Currently I'm pursuing painting and will be exhibiting in NJ in September.
Best wishes regarding your PhD!

All,

Last night I viewed PERSUASION the movie with my mother and two sisters while visiting them. We all enjoyed the film, but of course, I liked the book better.

Robt
" 14 208 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/25/1999 4:08:44 AM "Barb,
I enjoy introductions too especially to the classics. I remember reading one after finishing *Pride and Prejudice* and the writer pointed out a lot of clues and snippets that I missed the first time round which greatly enhanced my subsequent readings.

Robt, good luck with your exhibition.

Ee Lin
" 14 109 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/25/1999 11:37:36 AM "I usually end up reading the intro after I read the book. I'm way too impatient to slog through an intro instead of wading right into Chapter One. Besides, afterwards the intro usually makes more sense.

Ruth
Books are cheaper than wallpaper
" 14 173 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/26/1999 4:11:10 AM "Ee Lin--

Although it's true that Chaucer and Milton are difficult, I feel that Austen, if properly read, is just as hard to fathom. The interplay of emotions, the re-creation of a lost era, the puzzling out of the implications of relationships... none of these things are easy. Chaucer, of course, wrote in Old English, but there are many good updated versions of 'Canterbury Tales' in New (or, Sitcom) English available. Paradise Lost is surprisingly entertaining if you only read the narrative strand that deals with the Angels' Revolt... I'm just saying (to quote Milton): 'The mind is its own place, and can make a Heaven of Hell...' These works don't have to be forbiddingly intimidating (i.e, dead to us). Chaucer, for one, who worked so hard to frame his literary achievement in a relaxed context (travellers swapping stories), wanted nothing so much as to entertain the common reader...then and now.



" 14 208 AUGUST DISCUSSION: Persuasion by Jane Austen 08/26/1999 4:44:16 AM "George,
I've placed my reply to your comments on Chaucer and Milton on a separate thread.

Ee Lin
" ForumId UserId Subject PostDate TimesRead Anonymous Body 14 304 More Persuasion 08/27/1999 8:04:07 PM 36 0 """After a career spent enforcing prudence on her own fictional goddaughters, Jane Austen seems in her last completed work to have found herself in Lady Russell's position, with no alternative left but 'to admit that she had been pretty completely wrong , and to take up a new set of opinions and of hopes' . . .the ""new set of opinions"" dramatized in Persuasion adds to our many reasons for regretting that Jane Austen died at the age of forty-one. There is simply no telling what kind of novels she would have gone on to write.""

Jane Austen Changes Her Mind, by Christopher Clausen, in The American Scholar. From a page sent with a subscription solicitation.

PRES
" 14 313 More Persuasion 08/27/1999 10:13:14 PM 35 0 "Interesting, Pres. Thanks for posting that. Austen wrote most of her books when she was in her twenties, although they were not published until much later. PERSUASION was, of course, written not long before she died. She was still writing almost up until the very end. After many years of being shuffled from household to household, one of her brothers had finally provided her, her sister Cassandra, and her mother with a permanent residence. This made it much easier for her to write.

It saddens me to think about what we lost due to her early death. She lost three sister-in-laws to complications from childbirth (two with the birth of their 11th child!), but her own family was quite long lived -Jane being the unfortunate exception.
" 14 25 More Persuasion 08/28/1999 8:57:56 AM 36 0 "That is an interesting perspective, Pres. Since I like this more mature work so much, it stands to reason that I would have liked Austen's later work a great deal...sad.

Barb
" 14 311 More Persuasion 08/28/1999 8:15:57 PM 34 0 "Pres: Love that quote. Though I would note that if we're going to find Austen within characters, then we must assume that Anne is Austen as well. She could be both, right? It is rather silly--trying to find authors hidden in the guise of characters--but there's some conviction in Anne's character--particularly in being resigned to living out the consequences of being poorly persuaded--that seems much more acute than what someone of her type would feel.

Dan
" 14 313 More Persuasion 08/28/1999 9:23:46 PM 33 0 "Dan,
I think Austen put a lot of herself into Anne Eliot, but she also wrote that Anne was almost too good for her -- which made me smile because I had the same reaction on my second read.

Ann
" 14 25 More Persuasion 08/29/1999 7:41:14 AM 32 0 "I think authors frequently put bits of themselves in characters, more sometimes than others. However, I don't get the impression that very many authors draw characters that are totally based on themselves. In this case, I think that Austin's life experience and wisdom are reflected in her understanding of a character such as Anne.

This subject (character as author) always makes me think of Anna Karenina. At the time, I read it, I was sure that Levin was absolutely Tolstoy. But, when I read about the book later, Tolstoy was quoted as saying that he put a little of himself in each of the characters, including Anna, but that none of them were totally based on him. I particularly loved knowing that he saw a little of himself in Anna.

Barb

 

 

 
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