Posted by Lesley on July 27, 1998 at 00:03:29:
In response to JA's use of the five senses, written by Caroline on July 24, 1998 at 13:22:18
] She seems to use touch not at all. I cannot, off hand , think of any passage where the touch of anything on a person's hand or face is even mentioned. Can You?
I can think of one, Caroline. In Emma, when Mr. Knightly comes back from London and finds Emma in the shrubbery, thinking she is distraught of Frank Churchill. He presses her hand to his heart and says, "Time, dear Emma, will heal the wound." And JA tells us that she felt a "flutter of pleasure"
Henry has this as an example of a thrill in JA over on his page- that's how I remember it!
] Taste is usually a subject of ridicule. It's always to do with eating- Mrs Jennings and the olives, Mr. Woodhouse and the cake, egg, pork and all that. Notice how they don't actually eat the strawberries? Same with the
Musgroves- the cake and the boys' behaviour.
I agree, Caroline. JA does some interesting things with food in her novels and she is so exact that no reference to food is ever gratuitous. Mrs. Jennings is made slightly ridiculous with her, "Lord, how Charlotte and me did stuff!" (at Colonel Brandon's estate) How about Mr. Knightly's comment to Mrs. Elton that sensible men and women should eat meals indoors. He provides a cold cut luncheon inside the Abbey at the strawberry party. Indeed, eating alfresco is really dangerous in Emma- especially at Box Hill!
The one example where food isn't ridiculous is in P&P when Lizzy and Aunt Gardener go to visit Georgiana who is so terribly shy about beng a hostess. JA tells us that although they couldn't talk they could eat and gathered around a beautiful pyramid of nectairines and peaches and other fruit. I think it foreshadows the fruitful union of Lizzy and Darcy. Maggie Lane wrote a book called Jane Austen and Food which is worth the read. She mentions that Emma has more references to food than any other novel.
] Smells are almost absent too. There's a bit about Fanny Price enjoying the scents of the garden, but that's it, as far as I can see. She doesn't give details of smells, good or bad, it seems.
] Now I suppose you could say that most authors depend very heavily on "sight" in their novels. But the lack of most of the other senses is not so common. Dickens uses smell a lot-especially disgusting ones! So why didn't Jane Austen? Is it because she wasn't a 'sense' person? Or because nobody in the eighteenth century stooped to writing about bodily functions except in a very crude manner? Any thoughts?
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