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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
Posts: 2105


Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:51 pm    Post subject: Jane Austen  Reply with quote

Here's an interesting article from the Sunday Times 'Culture' section about the historical development of Jane Austen appreciation (and detraction!).

http://entertainment.timesonline....ks/non-fiction/article5939034.ece

I'm afraid Mark Twain's comment about Austen made me chuckle:
Quote:

“It seems a great pity to me that they allowed her to die a natural death.”



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Ann



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1112


Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw that article too, Mike. I found some of the points quite perceptive and it articulated some of the things I admire about her writing.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even in Austen’s own time, she had her admirers. The first editions of her novels all sold well, and Walter Scott, the most renowned novelist of the age, declared himself a fan.

Those (like myself) who don’t respond to Austen often find themselves feeling very frustrated. For we recognise the deep love, and, indeed, veneration, in which Austen is held by her admirers; and we recognise also that many of these admirers are people of great taste and discernment in literary matters. So we are aware that there is something wonderful there that we are missing. And this awareness serves but to increase our frustration, and, like Joseph Conrad, we can’t help asking ourselves over and over again, “what is it about her work that gives rise to such devotion?” I can recognise this feeling in myself. I know there’s no point in going over works again & again that I am by temperament not equipped to take in, but that question keeps nagging away all the same. And it’s made no better when certain friends ask disbelievingly: “How can you not like Austen?”

But it’s good to see I’m not the only one. When Nabokov put together his Lectures on Literature, he only included Mansfield Park because his friend, the eminent critic Edmund Wilson, had rated Austen alongside Dickens as the greatest of all British novelists. After a very guarded essay, Nabokov admits rather disarmingly that he had “tried to be fair”. Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad, Vladimir Nabokov … whatever it is I’m missing, I am, at least, in good company!


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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1149



PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seeing as how Jane Austen died slowly and painfully at the age of only 41 from what is believed to be Hodgkinsons' lymphoma, I don't find Mark Twain's comment amusing.  

But then I've always found Mark Twain over-rated.


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joseph Conrad????  Flippin' McHenry.  How such a terminally boring writer has the effrontery to question why someone might love the luminous works of Jane Austen is beyond me...blimey.  He would have done better to keep that opinion to himself.

Sorry, I know you admire Conrad, Himadri, but I find his prose duller than...well, than a very dull thing, and have never made it even half way through any of his books, simply because the actual prose is so unreadable., and his writing seems earnest to the point of pompous. Jane's prose - whatever other qualities she has, and she has many - sparkles like a rippling lake on a sunny day, and anyone who can write prose as well as that deserves a bit more tolerance from a fellow author, whatever he thinks of her in general.


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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
Posts: 2105


Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's interesting how Austen polarises opinion so much, particularly amongst other writers - and how it appears to have long been the case. She was clearly a technical innovator, even an 'experimental' writer for her time, but I don't think that's what her critics objected to. Was it perhaps the narrow focus of her stories, on issues that might once have been sneerily dismissed as "women's concerns"? Or her provincial milieu? Or is it her humour which is divisive? (I think I've mentioned before that I found much of the humour in 'Persuasion' to be rather obvious and crude). Apparently Charlotte Bronte found her 'lacking in poetry' (a Romantic versus Classical conflict?).

Evie, I've only read 'Heart of Darkness' but I didn't have a problem with Conrad's prose at all; I thought it was rather good (though I did find the contrivance that the entire novella was being narrated by Marlowe to his shipmates - some hundred pages without ever being interrupted! - rather implausible).

As to Twain's joke, well it could hardly have been in worse taste however Austen died, could it? It's precisely the excessiveness and cruelty that makes it funny, considering Jane's only crime was to write a few books that Twain didn't much warm to.



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Freyda



Joined: 04 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do wish commercial fiction writers (usually American) would stop hi-jacking Jane Austen, and publishing pot boilers with twee covers on a Jane Austen theme. I saw another one today - something about a Jane Austen Project. She has been made into some hideous sort of chick-lit poster girl. I think it stems from the popularity of the films and TV productions, which are fine, and the new prissy pink re-packaging of her novels. What next? Pride & Prejudice Barbie? With parasol, specs, and a notebook and quill? And those high-heeled feet, of course. No wonder women fall over and twist their ankles when running downhill in a rainstorm! What should we expect?  Wink


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Freyda wrote:
What next? Pride & Prejudice Barbie? With parasol, specs, and a notebook and quill?


I'd guess it's probably already been done. Satire can't keep up with reality!  Very Happy


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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
Freyda wrote:
What next? Pride & Prejudice Barbie? With parasol, specs, and a notebook and quill?


I'd guess it's probably already been done. Satire can't keep up with reality!  Very Happy

I heard on a BBC programme that next year some American is bringing out Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - I kid you not Exclamation


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? That sounds brilliant! I'll be watching it! Very Happy



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