Lit. Crit. (was: Re: More than you ever wanted to know (was Re: answers from Diana))

JOdel at aol.com JOdel at aol.com
Tue Jun 5 23:54:52 EDT 2001


In a message dated 6/5/01 3:58:53 PM, Melissa at Proffitt.com writes:

>…I also thought, the first time, that he'd suddenly changed into this
>completely different person, and it was disconcerting.
>
>It isn't until the end, when all is resolved, that he finally explains
>the change he went through to Elizabeth (and by extension to the reader), but
>by then the book is over. 

But are we taking into account just how experimental this form of the novel 
still was at the time P&P was written? I will not claim that it had not ever 
been done beore, but surely Austin's shifting viewpoint (from tightly focused 
from Lizzie, and no one else's viewpoint, to to that of a partisan narriator, 
but a separate one -- i.e., NOT an omnicient narriator or one that is 
completely disengaged from Lizzie's points of reference. ) was not all that 
common. The narriator of S&S, although also partisan, was more detached than 
the narriator here, and that of Northanger Abbey, quite solidly looking on 
from outside the action. This partisan narriation limits the story in that 
the reader never does get a really good handle on Darcy, which is a serious 
flaw in an otherwise sucessful book. (It has been admitted by even the most 
ardent Janeites that she does not really excell in her portraits of the 
heros. Henry Tilney is probably the most uncomplicatedly attractive of the 
batch.)

I have heard it claimed that Austen is probably about as far back as we can 
go in the development of the novel and still find something which a modern 
reader can (not necessarily does, obviously) find accessible. I am inclined 
to agree.
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