Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|Defense of the Novel
Written by Pennie
(4/5/2006 11:07 p.m.)
I think the passage in chapter 5 on the defense of the novel is a brilliant piece of writing, but I've always been puzzled if it's a serious defense, or if it's satire. I think it's an element of both.
JA starts off with:
I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel–writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding
This is both serious and satire. She is serious in saying that if novels are to be recognised as being worthy, then their very authors must stick up for them like she is doing. The satire element comes in with the fact that the novel is in fact a satire of what she professes to defend. I do love the 'number of which they are themselves adding' part. Very telling.
She describes novels being where the
greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language
This is satire because from what JA shows in other parts of NA, novels generally do not display this. They are more like how she describes the so called 'worthy' books to be.
Yet there is a serious element to this. Serious books are also unrealistic and irrelevant to young ladies:
though the chances must be against her being occupied by any part of that voluminous publication
JA seems to be saying that novels may be lightweight, but they provide an amusement to young ladies in the same way that balls and dresses do, so let them be enjoyed in their proper place.
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.