Jane Austen (was a whole lot of re that I snipped off

Ven ven at vvcrane.fsnet.co.uk
Wed Jun 6 21:10:31 EDT 2001

Melissa wrote
> Hallie and Ven, duking it out in fine style:

> First, _Persuasion_.  
> I had a long conversation online with someone who made the same accusations
> about Connie Willis.  His reasons were similar to yours: he believed that
> Willis took advantage of her position as author, making fun of people who
> had genuine problems by turning them into caricatures.
It's not that I don't like writers who make fun of people its just that I 
(ducks) find JA rather mean spirited about it, at times she hasn't a 
nice word for anyone. 

> Ven 
> >I always had sympathy for Mary, but I must 
> >now declare an interest, insofar as I suffer from a chronic medical 
> >condition myself.
> It really ruins a book when you identify with characters the author doesn't
> want you to like.  I mean, the whole book is set up for you to sympathize
> with certain people, and you as the reader are basically refusing to join
> the tour with all the other good little children.  :)

> But to go back to the Connie Willis example:  The guy who was arguing that
> Willis was arrogant and mean-spirited had worked in retail and customer
> service, and identified more with the antagonists in some of her stories
> ("At the Rialto" was the specific example, but the Dumb Waitress is a common
> type in Willis's stories) than with the protagonist.  From that position, he
> felt slighted on their behalf.  It affects the reading tremendously if you
> have knowledge that the author doesn't seem aware of, or appears to be
> ignoring in favor of making a different point.  I don't agree with you, but
> it does make sense not to like _Persuasion_ based on your example.

Actually you and Hallie have got me wondering about that ........... 
As to Willis, the Dumb Waitress stuff does bother me a bit, I've 
worked in jobs where the customers can be very irritating too.. 
Interestingly in the Felice/Willis  collaberation -- whatsit called, 
Mills and Boon in Space, Deleanna and Sunny and Cleo the 
Scarab -- it's the heroine who's dumb while all the freight 
inspectors, bartenders, etc know a lot more about what's going on.
> Mary.........................
>  I feel sorry for her because it seems like such a waste of a
> basically nice person, someone who would be admirable if she wasn't so
> desperate.
You have different reasons than mine but yes I felt she was 
basically nice.

> Hallie says (and, BTW, you should be remembering _Beauty_ right now :)
> >-I would want a HUGE amount of trust in 
> >> the teacher to accept that Anne Elliot's family was based on 
> >Jane 
> >> Austen's and that Anne was largely Jane herself.

> >Hold on I said "partly", not largely, and I'm sure they mentioned 
> >this in the> 

> I don't know about Mary being based on a sister, but the copy of the book I
> have plays up this supposed correlation between Jane Austen and Anne Elliot.
> Why do you think they've made such a big deal about this possibility?  And
> what was the point of your teacher telling you this as part of your study,
> Ven?  Was it supposed to make you like it better, or what?
Um, I dunno really.

 And now, _Northanger Abbey_:
> Hallie:
> >> Northanger Abbey - well it's like TG and what follows on from that in 
> >> a lot of ways, IMHO.  (Thereby neatly - for once! - bringing in an 
> >> ob- etc.)  Satire of a literary style which the author feels has gone 
> >> a touch OTT.  But taking the mickey out of the gothic romances, 
> >> rather than young girls, I'd have thought.
> >> 
> and Ven:
> >It struck me as taking the piss out of gothic romances and their 
> >young female readers  together. At the time it seemed to be saying 
> >"watch out girls the world is duller and far more shoddy than you 
> >think". 
> _Northanger Abbey_ hit me hard because I was one of those young female
> readers...the scene where Catherine's in her room at the abbey, and the
> storm hits, and there's the cabinet in the corner...oh, boy, was I cringing
> right around then!  But in a good way.  Maybe it's because I was already
> past that age and already realized what an overdramatic person I had been,
> but it was just the funniest thing I'd ever read.

I cringed too.
> But I don't agree that it's saying the world is dull and shoddy.  

What I meant here actually was that the villains turned out to be 
shoddy -- or rather the people who turn out to be villains like 
Henry's snobby father and Isabel's gold digging brother.

> opposite.  Catherine gets all worked up inventing a mystery that turns out
> to be nonexistent, but the reality of love and greed and hate is far more
> powerful than anything she could think up.  It strikes me as a story about
> letting go of fantasy for a better reality.  Austen never makes the point
> about dark, brooding Gothic lovers as compared to Henry Tilney, but with
> everything else, I think she doesn't have to.  (Though I suppose that's
> depressing if you look at it in a certain way...fantasy is quite nice....)
remember the dull and shoddy remark was how it appereared to 
my 17 year old self. And right then Henry Tilney just seemed to be 
the model for the steady but boring boyfriend heroines in magazine 
storuies were always supposed to choose over the dashing but 
dodgy one. 

> Ven, thanks for elaborating on why you don't like Jane Austen.  I found it
> intriguing.
Thanks for showing what shaky ground I'm standing on :-)


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