Re: luscious babe stuff: left out of Austen
Posted by Bonny on August 01, 1998 at 03:47:17:
In response to LOL!, written by Lesley on July 27, 1998 at 23:08:57
] ] 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.
] Oh, gkb, thank you so much for making me laugh! Too funny! But, really you make a very good point. Your comments make me think of poor Marianne's plight and how worried Eleanor was- none of that lucious babe stuff, no doubt about it. Your comments really underscore waht makes JA great. Too many modern authors are so dorky in this respect. I read The Devil's Protection by Susan Clitheroe a while back and it was just awful. She took great pains to tell what a lucious, delectable creature the heroine was and how the Byronic hero longed to ravish her. Like Cheryl said (about a different subject), I gave myself a head ache rolling my eyes.
right on RadicaFem, and greetings, Lesley: I loved your phrase "luscious babe stuff", so had to use it in my header. I love all your phrases gkb, but most particularly your rants.;-)I suspect, Lesley, that not only is this excess of luscious babe description a modern phenomena, but also something that was raging in JA's time around the 1790's and a bit after with the popularity of the Gothic novel, and was a form JA was reacting against, in the way RadicaFem has elegantly articulated. Radcliffe's 'Romance of the Forest' is rife with descriptions of the heroine fainting away, having disordered appearance(an icon of sexual availability)through no fault of her own, and somehow exposing her bosom (I imagine not all of it, just enough to be immodest)on the way down in front of a multitude of Male Gazers.
I can think of a scene where the authorial voice does shift to Male Gaze perspective though:in S&S, where we get perhaps JA's most minute description of her protagonists appearance filtered through Willoughby's eyes, perhaps to signal that W. is not quite the gentleman? Willoughby's orbs are most pleasantly stimulated by the visual input as he processes the forms of Marianne & Elinor. "Luscious babe" is not too far from his thoughts.
The Body is definitely there in Austen, and particularly in S&S. I had a (female) Professor last year who lectures on that very theme in S&S, and it's transformation in S&S2.
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