Jane Austen - download pdf or read online

By Tony Tanner (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0333323181

ISBN-13: 9780333323182

ISBN-10: 1349184322

ISBN-13: 9781349184323

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It is no wonder that sometimes Jane Austen's heroines have positively to struggle to speak their own words - to own their own voices. It is hardly surprising that Gisborne (a clergyman) should constantly stress the importance of inculcating religion and the imperatives of duty. Indeed, he has a good deal to say about the struggle between' duty' and' amusement' . It is interesting to note that one solution he sees to the problem of counteracting a tendency to contract 'a habit of excessive fondness for amusement' depends on locale and place of residence: To the daughter of a country gentleman, though her heart should be fixed on company and diversions, the paternal mansion, insulated in its park, or admitting of no contiguous habitations except the neighbouring hamlet, seldom furnishes the opportunity of access to a perpetual circle of amusements.

Are characters given to facile agitations and exaggerated emotionalism or are they capable of a tactful adequacy of utterance and an appropriate reserve? Are their generalisations reliably founded in experience and reflection or do they emerge as inert and inapposite cliches, mere repetitions of the accepted terminological currency of their social tribe? Do they merely echo the sociolect or do they employ it in such a way as to give it renewed force and relevance? Are they given to a true propriety of speech or are they only capable of fumbling approximations to it, lapsing into more of less subtle failures of propriety - or out-and-out vulgar parodies of it?

Stillness (and that Introduction 37 controlled movement called grace) is the ideal; excessive or surprising motion is the deviant, and potentially disruptive and threatening. Part of this is of course explained by the position of women in Jane Austen's society: they were ideologically pinioned, as it were, tacitly coerced into very controlled movements, if not actually 'arrested'. Unpredictable mobility was errancy in more than one sense. Thus the 'activity' which is recorded by Jane Austen is largely an activity of seeing and saying, thinking and feeling, wondering and assessing, hoping and fearing, conjecturing and interpreting.

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Jane Austen by Tony Tanner (auth.)


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