Skip to main content

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

Comment Preferences

  •  Well, I certainly agree that (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brecht, suka, RiveroftheWest, poco

    "Austen offers uncomfortable insights into society" and would argue that that's why we still love her: it might be centuries later, but human nature hasn't changed during those centuries, has it? Not so far as I can see!

    As for the rest of that quote, I'd have to read the whole thing and consider it in context, but for right now, I'm thinking hooey  except for the part where, yes, of course she's doing psychological drama. Yes, of course, that's why we still read her and love her. See my first graph, above:

    Human nature hasn't changed, and she is the past master of depicting it in prose so pointed it's a stiletto.

    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 12:44:41 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  I've been reading articles on the internet, some (5+ / 0-)

      very interesting, about D. W. Harding's influential essay.

      Harding himself admitted that his was a biased view of Austen. But when it came out in 1940, it was the bias that everyone had been missing: everyone was seeing Austen as this polite, diffident spinster. Austen's reputation was given a huge push in this kinder, gentler direction by her nephew:

      Austen’s posthumous fate took a dramatic turn for the better after her nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh, published his idealistic A Memoir of Jane Austen in 1869, which emphasized Austen’s feminine contentment and propriety, her modesty about her writing, and her prioritization of domestic duties. Austen-Leigh’s book was a smashing success and ignited the first wave of what we would now call Austen mania. Claire Harmon, in Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World, has argued that the memoir provided potential fans with a story they could believe about a gentle spinster author for whom they could feel affection and tenderness; without it, Austen might have remained a niche favorite cherished by those who knew her work, but she would not have become what she is today: an “infinitely exploitable global brand.” Austen-Leigh received letters from adoring readers around the world, and a rash of new biographies and editions of the novels followed. The commercialization was so intense that in 1905 a disgusted Henry James (whom many would designate Austen’s literary descendant) lambasted “the special bookselling spirit” and the “body of publishers, editors, illustrators, producers of the pleasant twaddle of magazines; who have found their ‘dear’, our dear, everybody’s dear, Jane so infinitely to their material purpose.”
      Harding's essay in 1940 brought a paradigm shift which had a huge effect on how scholars have viewed Austen ever since. Again, he didn't find the whole truth, but he did spot a darker side of Austen that many of her fans entirely miss.

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

      by Brecht on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 01:42:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  sigh. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht, suka, RiveroftheWest, poco

        How can you miss the darker side? /rhetorical.

        PandP and SandS, yeah, maybe, if you're in sixth grade.

        But in Emma? As an adult reader? C'mon!

        /rant

        I really do need to read some more Austen, btw. Never read Persuasion, which sounds wonderful, and in one of my comments here I mis-identified the other one I need to read: Northanger Abbey. Wow. What have I been missing all these years?

        Ya done good, Brecht. This is one of the best comment threads (not to mention your diary that started it) in years.

        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 01:52:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The longer I look at Austen, the more I find. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          suka, Youffraita, RiveroftheWest, poco

          Perhaps I'll try S&S, then reread P&P and Northanger Abbey, finishing with Persuasion. Over the next 2 or 3 years.

          Good chatting with you. Time for bed. Sleep well, my dear.

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

          by Brecht on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 02:00:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site