Further quibbles and cavils...
Posted by The Mysterious H.C. on June 07, 1998 at 22:46:45:
In response to In response (longish), written by Linden on June 06, 1998 at 23:18:19
- Sure, you can extend the definition of "romanticism" far enough so that Jane Austen falls under it; the question to be answered is whether or not you are saying anything interesting, insightful, etc. when you do this.
- From stuff that has been dropped from time to time on AUSTEN-L, I gather that LitCrit types who specialize in the Lake Poets etc. frequently have a strong visceral reaction against grouping Austen together with their subjects of study (as would be done if the "major" / "canonized" English-language writers were considered in strict chronological order). They consider her confined narrow little hypergenteel silver-fork drawing-room surface stuff to be out of keeping with their macho nature-child image or something.
- If you were going to use any Jane Austen novel to study Romanticism, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, or possibly Persuasion might spring to mind, since they discuss stuff that is somewhat related to romanticism though not necessarily precisely identical with it (sensibility/sentimentalism, the picturesque, the gothic, etc.) -- but Pride and Prejudice strikes me as somewhat off the wall (sorry.)
I don't really want to debate the subject with you at much greater length, because I'm not a professional LitCrit person myself, nor do I desire to be. But if you're going to redefine "Romanticism" and the "Romantic movement" away from their customarily-accepted meanings, you should justify your reasons for doing this, instead of taking it for granted that everybody will follow along with you. Confusing the technical literary/historical meaning of "Romanticism" with the ordinary meanings of the everyday word "romantic" doesn't take the place of such a reasoned argument either. And it's not clear to me what particular characteristics early 19th-centure Byronic/Romantic literature, late 20th-century trashy romance paperbacks, and Jane Austen's novels all three share in common, as opposed to other types of literature that deals with love and marriage between the sexes. If you could list specific things that these three all have that other literature doesn't, then I would be interested....
P.S. I don't think that Jane Austen predominantly wrote either "under the influence of" or "in reaction to" Romanticism or quasi-Romanticism. She was influenced sometimes (e.g. by Gilpin on the picturesque, by "Romantic" sensibilities of admiration of nature), and made fun of it other times (e.g.Gothicism, excesses of sensibility and of the cult of the picturesque), but most of the time she went her own way off to the side, neither influenced by it nor in self-conscious opposition to it.
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