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

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  •  I've been poking at the internet, finding shards (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, RiveroftheWest, poco

    of insight about Austen. Harder to put down than an encyclopedia. With your interest in mysteries, and joy in Austen, I thought I'd share this comment by Keith Oatley with you:

    Here is how I see it. Pride and Prejudice is a novel about investigation, discovery, and explanation, in the social world, in the same way that Edgar Allan Poe's and Wilkie Collins's stories are about investigation, discovery, and explanation, of crimes. That is to say, Austen's plot-engine in Pride and Prejudice starts up with the question: "How can the eminently eligible Darcy have behaved so badly?" The elegance of the investigatory device is made psychologically profound, I think, by the tracing of how coming to love someone has little to do with the glance of a stranger across a room, but is itself a kind of investigation and explanation, a gradual coming to know the person. . . .

    At an Edinburgh Festival, some years ago, I heard P.D. James talk about why the detective story holds such appeal. She said that the appeal is based on a wound having been inflicted on the body of society. By sheer cerebration, the detective works out not just who caused the wound, but what kind of person this was. With the conclusion of the investigation—in the fantasy, as it were, of the detective story—the wound is healed and life can continue. Austen, it seems to me, had a comparable insight. In Pride and Prejudice she asks: "What kind of person, seemingly the very acme of gentlemanliness and eligibility, can have caused a social wound?" The wound is healed by investigation, explanation, and acknowledgement.

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

    by Brecht on Sun Nov 10, 2013 at 10:34:28 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

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