Posted by Constanza on June 12, 1998 at 11:35:25:
In response to Getting postmodernist, but readable, I hope, written by Linden on June 10, 1998 at 22:43:09
] (a) Jane Austen was clearly influenced by the general literature of her period, which we can call the Romantic movement. We know this partly through her biography which tells us which were her favourite authors
I am not very much acquainted with JA's favourite authors (Burney and Edgeworth, am I right?); in fact I have only read Evelina; however, though I acknowledge that what you read may have an influence on what you write, it does not follow that your favourite reads will determine your own style. For instance, JA may have been inspired by the irony or the dialogues or "grotesque" in Evelina; but certainly not by "romantic" scenes. Can you imagine Darcy proposing on his knees? Or Emma fainting for whatever reason? Or any of her characters hugging his/her father's knees while he/she delivers a "mea culpa"? And that reference to the "unhappy Caroline"?
] • A high value on individual autonomy as opposed to following convention: Lizzy's rebuttal of Lady C is an excellent example of this.
I don't quite see why Lizzy's agreeing to Lady C's impertinent demands would have mean following convention. I consider it more as "common sense vs. snobbery". IMO JA does not advocate for the breaking of conventions but for the prevalence of common sense. If I were to make a list of some instances (in JA's novels) where individual autonomy gets the better part against convention, I would include:
-Maria Bertram's elopement
-Marianne's behaviour towards Wickham (that is, her being overtly in love with him before any proposal)
-Edward's secret engagement
-Jane Fairfax's secret engagement
Actually, I don't see any of those characters derived much pleasure from their "individual autonomy".
] • A high value on emotions and feelings. I grant that JA was ambivalent about this one. We have Catherine and Marianne both having to recognise their errors; on the other hand, a good part of their charm is their capacity for feeling. Perhaps JA came to value feeling more and more as she matured: "Northanger Abbey" and S&S are early works, while the later "Persuasion" clearly comes down on the side of feeling rather than the rational caution of Lady Russell.
I think JA mistrusted emotions as a basis for decision-making and feelings as a sole basis for decision-making. Again IMO she condemned impulsive behaviour (Maria's, Lydia's, Marianne's, etc.). As regards Persuasion, I think Anne says that Lady Russel's advice was of that kind that proves right or wrong according to later circumstances. I believe that Anne meant that she should have not broken the engagement because when she did so there was yet chances that Frederick would make his fortune. So feeling is indeed tempered with common sense.
] • In particular, a value on love between man and woman: Darcy's much needed change of character is brought about, not by any moral teaching or rational thought, but by his overpowering love for Lizzy (thus making him a perfectly good Romantic hero).
Almost no objection here ;-). But it is her rejection that prompts the change; and there is change because there were "essentials" and principles. Compare Darcy's success with Henry Crawford's failure; not all the latter's love for Fanny could make either Fanny love him or transform him into a better man.
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