why write ANOTHER biography?
Posted by Kate on March 22, 1998 at 08:58:25:
I heard an interview with Claire Tomalin which got me interested in this biography in the first place. When asked why she had chosen to write another JA bio, or indeed why she wrote about any of the women she had written biographies about, she said it was because she felt there was a question about their lives that had not been answered.
In Jane's case, she said, she looked at the structure of her life, in particular when in her life the work is done, and the glaring question is : why did she stop? Why, after producing three novels, of which she was obviously proud, did she simply not write anything else of consequence, except a failed attempt to start The Watsons, for a decade?
She said that when she considered all the evidence avaialable, she felt that one explanation was that Jane became depressed, partly as a result of leaving Steventon and all that was known and familiar, and partly by all the deaths. This, together with the change in circumstances which made it impossible for her to have peace, quiet and control over her working time and space, meant that she simply could not write.
For Tomalin, I think, chapter 16 is a key chapter, because for her it is the core of her theory about Jane's life, and is what she feel she has to say which is new.
I must say I certainly found the story of the move very depressing - just to be told that everything will change, that you will move from a loved home to a disliked city, with no permanent place to live, and constantly moving around.... Although this reflects my own life pattern since my mid 20s (and I'm not complaining!) the key difference is that this is something I have chosen and control. Jane was at the mercy of her family and there was nothing she could do to change her situation.
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