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|It was a VERY formal time
Written by Cathy Allen
(5/12/2013 12:11 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Always wondered, penned by RobinJ
It was a VERY different time than now. Late 20th and early 21st century casual informality just didn't exist. One of the reasons I enjoy JA so much is that she SHOWS how people actually lived; she doesn't explain it, we have to deduce it. In the subject we are discussing here, even husbands and wives called each other "Mr" and "Mrs" in company. The informal way for people to address men was to use only the last name (i.e., Lady Catherine and her nephews). A person had to be on quite intimate terms to use what we would call a nickname. That's one of the reasons I don't like much JA fan fiction: the 21st century minds of the authors have too much trouble with this, and almost invariably use nicknames; not that I blame them, but it just wouldn't have happened. In P&P, you will notice that the narrator always calls Elizabeth by that formal name.
I have seen this change to casual informality in my own lifetime: I was born in 1950, and as a child, I'd never have dreamed of calling an adult by his or her first name. Nowadays, such formality no longer exists (well, at least not in California, where I live!).
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