Take care of that brain of yours! ;-)
Posted by Helen on March 11, 1998 at 13:37:19:
In response to Half a thought......, written by Caroline on March 07, 1998 at 20:28:32
Thank you for the quotations! They were most insightful (even in American spelling ;-) ) It seems to me that you're right, JA has a Jonsonian preference for intelligence over anything like academic study - and pragmatic experience of life over mulled-over wisdom - 'intelligent, if not learned' sounds about right. But why? - why was it only after her lifetime that women hungered after learning, and those who saw themselves as serious writers valued knowledge in a different way? And even Fanny Burney, from my acquaintance with Evelina and Cecilia, is not exactly intellectual, but she does seem to perceive the received wisdom of morality texts as something to be respected rather than satirized.
] Here's what he says about Bluestockings
] Mrs. Carter, who walked or rode from four to five each morning and who is said to have translated Epictetus with a cold towel wrapped about her head, was perhaps more learned than charming. At the age of eighty-eight she cooly remarked "Nobody knows what may happen; I never said I would not marry." Hannah More, who dreaded pedantry, was asort of moving spirit in every philanthropy. Mrs Thrale refused to be shouted down by even Dr Johnson Mrs. Chapone, author of the official Bluestocking text - Letters on the improvement of the Mind- announced that women , as rational and accountable beings, are free agents as well as men
Mrs. Carter sounds like a dreadful warning to Mary Bennet... Mrs. Thrale I can imagine as a heroine of JA's - not only a friend of Dr. J's but flirting with the great man and making him putty in her hands (until that rather disgraceful second match...) This is what I find puzzling: JA would agree with the bluestockings that women are equal to men - certainly she depicts women who are equal as human beings - but yet she almost rejects any kind of theoretical background for this belief, instead falling back on the received wisdom that a woman in fact needs to look up to a man in the context of a relationship.
By the way, I would say that life is too short to read Rasselas (speaking as one who has had to read it) - Jonson trying to produce fiction is what can only be described as elephantine...
So has your great brain come up with any thoughts? Is it perhaps a social thing - JA perhaps not having the entree to salon life, with her rather humble social status? I look forward to what your dreams of Austen and the intelligentsia next unfold! ;-)
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