Sense and Sensuality
Posted by gkb on July 27, 1998 at 01:25:27:
In response to JA's use of the five senses, written by Caroline on July 24, 1998 at 13:22:18
] She uses sound much less often. Occasionally she mentions the sound of carriage wheels, or the tone of someone's voice, but it is never really critical to the story, it's just a perfect, minimal embellishment.
Like the noise of pattens on the street in Bath or the roar of the fire at Uppercross that was determined to be heard above the rest of the clamor.
] 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?
Well, ELinor checks Marianne's pulse and skin. Edmund draws Fanny's arm within his own and offers the other arm to Mary. Then he comments how lightly she holds him--only a fly in comparison to having a man lean on him for the length of a street. Does he not touch Fanny's white gown and say he likes the glossy spots? Maria elbow is unmercifully knocked by Mrs. Norris's basket. There is also the kinestetic pleasure in dancing, not exactly touch, but a body sensation.
By the by, one of my pet peeves is how critics sometimes say Austen has no emphasis on the body. One critic erroneously declared that there is no mention of the word 'fingers' in Austen. Well, I located four instances in about 30 seconds flat. I say she has quite enough description of the body but not as an External Object being Viewed by the Male Gaze--but as an inhabitant of the body--the feelings and nerves and sensations from within. This Rant has been brought to you by RadicaFem, your local Hersterical Herstorian. We return now to the regularly scheduled discussion.
] 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.
There are no details, but in Portsmouth, "bad air, bad smells" are substituted for "freshness, fragrance, verdure" of the country.
In general, I suppose she viewed the world through the filter of the mind first and the sensory equipment second. She is thought to have been an INTJ on the Myer-Briggs, which means that the Sensing and Perceiving functions were less developed. Perhaps other writers have more sensory interaction with the world, hence a tendency to dwell on what they know (experience) rather than what they think? On what they taste rather than what they intuit? Just guessing here.
- LOL! Lesley 23:08:57 7/27/98 (3)
- Where do I sign up? Marie-Bernadette 13:47:40 7/27/98 (1)
- 'Spect you're a charter member, dear! (::-) (nfm) gkb 20:18:06 8/01/98 (0)
- Jane Austen's Body Caroline 11:05:53 7/27/98 (0)
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