Newfoundlands and terriers...
Posted by Patricia Bingham on January 15, 1998 at 23:53:06:
In response to Jane Austen and Selective Breeding, written by Caroline on January 15, 1998 at 21:30:32
About these particular dogs, all of these you mention were popular breeds of pets... I do alot of research through contemporary diaries and such and I do recall that just about everyone mentions the exact breed of pet they owned or what exact breed someone they knew owned. All this in light commenting. These breeds you mention come up the most although I've also seen poodles alot. So perhaps it was common to mention the exact breeding when referring to an acqaintance's animal. Precise can be attractive reading.
Also, when writing, the type of dog someone might own can help to characterize a character (sorry about that choice of wording!) Can you imagine Henry Tilney owning a poodle? A Newfoundland is more masculine and it being a puppy might give the impression of tenderness.
Willoughby's Pointer bitch gives him some character of his own, a hunter, an outdoorsman, the pointer being female gives an added touch considering Willoughby's weakness for them. The very word Pointer sounds harsh and aggressive and we know that Willoughby was inately not a nice person.
A pug, I think fits lady Bertram's personality perfectly. Can you imagine one of Jane Austen's heroine having a pug? Not as attractive. It changes sex? That's funny.
] Also, Harriet Smith has a cow, not just an ordinary cow, but an Alderney. Is an Alderney a viable pet? Why would JA give her an Alderney(well, I think I know why, but I'd like your opinion!)
I don't know about Alderney so I can't comment there... but your right of course, the cow does say something about Harriet Smith.
cats were usually outdoors except for Persians and Siamese, etc, though there is no rule in this. I've not read anything from contemporaries regarding cats but if a character did have one that character would probably be devious or very smart or perhaps quiet.
] Anyone find this interesting?
I think it is fascinating and I'm glad you brought it up.
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