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Written by Cheryl
(10/10/2011 12:04 a.m.)
"Her eye half met Captain Wentworth's, a bow, a curtsey passed; she heard his voice; he talked to Mary, said all that was right; said something to the Miss Musgroves, enough to mark an easy footing; the room seemed full, full of persons and voices, but a few minutes ended it. Charles shewed himself at the window, all was ready, their visitor had bowed and was gone, the Miss Musgroves were gone too, suddenly resolving to walk to the end of the village with the sportsmen: the room was cleared, and Anne might finish her breakfast as she could." (ch. 7)
My Annotated Persuasion makes an interesting point about Austen's prose, and cites this passage as an example. That when Austen describes the "thousand feelings" Anne experiences, she is breaking with the style of the past - eg. Johnson - and breaking ground for a future style of prose - eg. Woolf.
"The abrupt phrases and the absence of coordination make this as far from the Johnsonian model as it could well be … Partly because so much of the heroine's emotional life is lived secretly, Jane Austen's last novel is especially rich in what amounted to an experimental prose … there is nothing in subjective writing in any earlier English novel to compare in subtlety of insight or depth of feeling with the sequence of nervous scenes between the hero and heroine in Persuasion (Page, "Jane Austen's Language," in Grey, 263; Butler, 278)
Those short phrases, the punctuation, etc. all lend an air of agitation and immediacy. I've always known there was a different tone to Persuasion, but I don't know that I put it down to the prose style. We are used to Austen's long, long sentences, where sometimes you have to get to the end of the one-sentence paragraph to fully understand the point. And then we get the joke, or the gist, and it's a delightful surprise. These short bursts of thought and emotion in Persuasion are very different, aren't they?
What do you think? Am I the last person to pick up on this?
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