Posted by bj on August 28, 1997 at 17:26:34:
In reply to In the midst of the poetry -- a Biography.... posted by JacqueJ on August 27, 1997 at 23:40:35
Thank you for taking the time to post your findings. Because of it, I'm going to look for the book myself so that I can read it in its entirety. I found all of it most informative and interesting. Especially the following:
She goes on to include the quote from the end of Persuasion, "How eloquent could Anne Elliot have been, -- how eloquent, at least, were her wishes on the side of early warm attachment, and a cheerful confidence in futurity, against that over-anxious caution which seems to insult exertion and distrust Providence! - She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older – the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning."
"Cassandra marked it and added in the margin, ’Dear dear Jane! This deserves to be written in letters of gold.’"
Right now I'm reading Persuasion for the first time, and when I got to this passage my breath fairly caught in my throat. It's one of the most beautiful paragraphs I've ever read... anywhere.
"When Jane Austen was asked which of her characters she liked best, unhesitatingly she replied, ‘Edmund Bertram and Mr Knightly’, adding that she knew real English gentlemen were often very different. The conscientious clergyman, the brave sailor and the responsible landowner were her ideals: but she was clear eyed enough to recognize how often the reality fell short."
I have read but never studied Mansfield Park but at one point I skimmed Emma specifically looking for descriptive information about Mr Knightly and found that there is really very little. Most of what we know about him we learn from what he says and not from what Jane Austen says. She said very little about him and yet he was one of her favorites.
Mr. Knightley is definitely my favorite of all of Jane's leading men as well... with Darcy a close second (of course!). It's nice to find out that his creator feels the same. I think your comments are very interesting, I hadn't thought of this before, but you are perfectly right. Almost everything we learn about Mr. Knightley is from his own words, or through his relationship with Emma and the other characters, and their descriptions of him. One of my favorite examples is during the planning of the strawberry picking at Donwell. Sigh... what a perfect man! It's amazing that Austin can capture character so completely in only a couple of lines of dialogue.
"I hope you will bring Elton," said he: -- "but I will not trouble you to give any other invitations."
"Oh! no you are looking very sly. But consider; -- you need not be afraid of delegating power to me. I am no young lady on her preferment. Married women, you know, may be safely authorized. It is my party. Leave it all to me. I will invite your guests."
"No," -- he calmly replied, -- "there is but one married woman in the world whom I can allow to invite what guests she pleases to Donwell, and that one is --"
"-- Mrs. Weston, I suppose," interrupted Mrs. Elton, rather mortified.
"No -- Mrs. Knightley; -- and, till she is in being, I will manage such matters myself."
"There is one thing, Emma, which a man can do, if he chuses, and that is, his duty; not by manoevring and finessing, but by vigour and resolution."
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