Saturday, July 15, 2006

Jane Austen Article

Charlotte's subsequent life is a kind of decorous hell, made bearable by the fact that the alternative would have been worse. She is the stony reality at the heart of Pride and Prejudice. She tells a woman's story, but in a way that is utterly remote from feminine convention: with scant emotion, appealing to nothing other than rationality. And, like her creator, she has remarkably little to do with cosy readings of The Jane Austen Book Club and communal swoons over Mr Darcy.

This is a very interesting article that talks about Jane Austen and how she's been appropriated as a women's/romance novelist, when in fact, she's something else entirely, though passion does play a part in her stories. (Link from Bookslut.)

Personally I agree with the statement about Charlotte - she's always struck me as a very smart-thinking woman who does the best she can in the circumstances. However Austen very clearly bases most of her stories around a love story, so she is very definitely also a romance novelist. Does that fact necessarily take away from the other themes in her story? I don't think so.

What do you think?

4 comments :

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Hey Nalini...

My first post on Scrambled Sage on Toast will be tomorrow... :-)

eatrawfish said...

I thought the article was interesting, but don't agree that Jane Austen is at all terrifying in her practicality. To say that Charlotte's life is some sort of Hell after she marries Mr. Colins is to define her life purely in a romantic sense. Surely she had more going on than just her and Mr. Colins, right? But it is true that it isn't terribly romantic.

I also thought the quote on Lydia:

"Lydia nearly ruins her family along with herself, and she is unequivocally damned for what might now be admired as a burst of self-expression."

Was interesting, because on my first viewing of the 1995 P&P (when they aired it in 3 parts) I actually thought Lydia was the coolest of the bunch (before she ruins her family of course). And actually, wouldn't she be the more modern heroine?

Ok, enough babble from me. :)

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

I forgot to say that "Pride and Prejudice" is my favorite novel. And, today in some parts of the world Lydia would be shunned. (I had a sister very similar to her.)

In many ways, I thought that this book was a good analysis of how sisters react to each other. Today, we don't see four or five sisters react together because we don't have that many children.

In my case, I grew up in a family of 9 children (5 girls). The personalities were very similar to Austen's writings. (except for the time period, of course.)

Nalini Singh said...

Hi Cynthia! Will visit today - love the name.

Eatrawfish - exactly. I always thought Charlotte was short-changed by some of the more romantic adaptations. She's a strong woman who makes a practical reasoned choice - having her own life vs being the spinster kicked around from relative to relative.

Lydia - gotta disagree there. She always struck me as irresponsible and airheaded. Kind of like the romance novel heroines who are TSTL and go off haring into situations where they shouldn't! ;)

Cynthia - 9?!!! Holy moly. That would give you a unique perspective on the relationships!