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View Diary: Books Go Boom!   Jane Austen's 'Emma' (271 comments)

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  •  Persuasion is my favorite, after P&P (15+ / 0-)

    I hope if you read it, we'll hear about it in comment threads somewhere. The main character clings to her poise and manners, taking her lumps and doing her best after a bad choice ruined her life. The way she deals with regret is so perfect and painful, I've never seen it done better.

    I love Jane Austen's vibrant writing and incisive characterization. I've read all her books several times. Thanks for this diary.

    "True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country." Kurt Vonnegut

    by scilicet on Sat Nov 09, 2013 at 05:55:32 AM PST

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    •  I'm almost sure to write a diary on 'Persuasion' (10+ / 0-)

      but Lord knows when. Though you can see in the comment above yours, Emmet's applying some persuasion to hurry me up.

      I'll write a diary on Austen's style one day, because there's so much there - but I'll have to read more Austen, do some lit. crit. research, and ponder awhile, if I want to do justice to Austen's brilliance and innovations with style. I'm glad you liked the diary.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sat Nov 09, 2013 at 07:41:34 AM PST

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      •  Persuasion is my favorite (11+ / 0-)

        after P&P, of course. I love Jane's language, and depth of character. The only fault I have with Jane's writing is that after several hundred pages of plot leading up to the proposal - the actual hero and heroine finally understanding each other and stating their love always falls flat. Austin never has much conversation in this scene - there is always a sort of "well, you know what they are saying to each other" couple of descriptive paragraphs. As Jane herself never had this moment (at least we don't think she did) perhaps she can't quite imagine it!

        •  Well, she did have a youthful romance (8+ / 0-)

          with someone of some eminence who shortly thereafter moved away, and also accepted a proposal, which she then quickly rescinded.

          You are correct, though. "Romance scenes" are not her strength, and I would imagine because they were private in life and she would not have necessarily witnessed them or experienced many herself, she had less fodder for her writing.

        •  I felt that way about 'Moby Dick': 100s of pages (4+ / 0-)
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          Dvalkure, RiveroftheWest, suka, Dragon5616

          of chasing and foreplay, and then I wanted that leviathan to eat the stars in the sky on the way to a watery Raganarok. It was a big ending but, after half a world of buildup, it felt anti-climactic.

          Surely your hypothesis is correct, that Austen hadn't lived enough passionate climax in her life to really go to town on details. I still feel she faltered at her biggest jump. She has so much sympathy and imagination, she could have given us more of a world transformed, of paradise blooming and trembling around the ecstasy of her couple connecting.

          But the Romance genre she birthed has more than made up for her ellipses in the centuries since.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Sat Nov 09, 2013 at 11:45:06 AM PST

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        •  I think Austen pulls away from strong emotion (7+ / 0-)

          We see 'hurt' or 'sickness' or 'love' at a slight remove. It may be less the fault of Austen's own experience and more the times in which she wrote.

          A woman who wrote 'Sense and Sensibility' isn't going to wallow in sensibility even if it would please her modern audience, used to going beyond the threshold and viewing much that was considered intensely private in the 'olden days'.

          Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue The Eno the Thracian Fantasy Series by C.B. Pratt. Epically amusing.

          by wonderful world on Sat Nov 09, 2013 at 11:45:25 AM PST

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          •  Makes perfect sense. Just like Austen does. (5+ / 0-)

            Ironic that she laid the groundwork for the genre of Romance, which in later years became all about the wallowing.

            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

            by Brecht on Sat Nov 09, 2013 at 01:33:48 PM PST

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            •  See, okay, Brecht, here's (6+ / 0-)

              where I part company with you.

              I don't see Austen as a romance writer.

              I see her as an ironist.

              That her main characters finally manage to get married at the end doesn't make her a romance writer: it makes her an optimist.

              Totally OT, but did you see the piece in today's NYT about why there are no brilliant Mormon novelists?

              http://www.nytimes.com/...

              Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

              by Youffraita on Sun Nov 10, 2013 at 01:00:52 AM PST

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              •  She writes ironically but the plots (6+ / 0-)

                are basically romances.  Each novel starts with single ladies, and they end with marriages and/or betrothals.  And in the duration we see how each heroine suffers with respect to romance - although Emma's suffering is extremely brief, the rest of her heroines suffer from romance delayed - either by their own folly or through the interference of others (or simply circumstances).

                Because this is the basic plot, Austen is often dismissed as just a romance writer, but she is, I agree, absolutely brilliant.  I consider Emma the best of her works in that I do not find a single wrong note with respect to the characterization.  (In her other books I believe there are flaws: P&P - Bingley's sisters are coarsely drawn; in Mansfield Park, the same can be said for Fanny's female cousins, etc.  In S&S there is too much back and forth).

                www.tapestryofbronze.com

                by chloris creator on Sun Nov 10, 2013 at 08:07:06 AM PST

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              •  Austen is the Muse of Romance, and it's easy to (5+ / 0-)

                fall into labeling her for it. I sometimes do that. However deeply she dug, she always worked the romantic countryside (with one Gothic parody excursion).

                Mostly, though, I consider Austen in her larger context: the history of the development of the Novel. She is one of the greatest writers, who happened to leave a vast genre in her wake.

                You could certainly say she's an ironist; or, that irony is a tool she owned completely, and applied flexibly, in her mapping of the human heart.

                "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                by Brecht on Sun Nov 10, 2013 at 12:46:45 PM PST

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                •  I could and I would (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Brecht, suka, RiveroftheWest, poco
                  You could certainly say she's an ironist; or, that irony is a tool she owned completely, and applied flexibly, in her mapping of the human heart.
                  ...except that you said it first. ;-D

                  Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                  by Youffraita on Sun Nov 10, 2013 at 11:49:26 PM PST

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                  •  I'm pleased to discover so many thoughtful Austen (4+ / 0-)
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                    Youffraita, suka, RiveroftheWest, poco

                    fans. In the dozens of book diaries I've written, I never yet learned so much from all the comments, as in this diary.

                    Thanks, Youffraita, for bringing so much thought and feeling to R&BLers - my diaries, and all the other ones you enliven.

                    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                    by Brecht on Sun Nov 10, 2013 at 11:53:39 PM PST

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                    •  Well, thank you, Brecht. (5+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Brecht, badscience, suka, RiveroftheWest, poco

                      I was rather surprised to see that the number of comments in this diary has about doubled since I was here roughly 24 hours ago. Am working my way through from the top, as it were.

                      Yes.

                      Quite interesting and mostly erudite.

                      Austen really invented the Modern Novel As We Know It, imo. I've read some of her predecessors...I was young and more tolerant of bad writing.

                      She could do it all.

                      Emma blew me away, as you know, but from reading this thread, I think I must now read Persuasion. And probably Mansfield Park. P&P and S&S I read long ago, and they're good, but they certainly aren't Emma.

                      Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                      by Youffraita on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 12:11:20 AM PST

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          •  I am not quite sure that is true. (7+ / 0-)

            Marianne in Sense and Sensibility is certainly experiencing strong emotions and that is not necessarily a warning sign.

            Elinor seems, to me at least, as suffering from a lack of sensibility, as too repressive, as unable to experience either an heightened emotional state or physical joy and release. Or rather, let me rephrase that, Elinor is fully able to have these experiences, but chooses not to, because (given her unremitting attention to and love for Marianne) she sees the problems of the lows and highs, and so represses herself in a punitive manner, in order to avoid the whole dilemma.

            Elinor very much fashions herself as an outer persona--conforming to the society's dictates, but one which reveals the lack of an inner core--an emptiness inside that is masked by appropriate social cues and reactions.

            To think of Jane Austen as a "virginal girl" is to impose a particular interpretive lens on her texts.  

            It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

            by poco on Sat Nov 09, 2013 at 02:35:07 PM PST

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