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

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Fri Jun 8 00:53:31 EDT 2001

On Thu, 7 Jun 2001 02:10:31 +0100, Ven wrote:

>Melissa wrote

>> 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. 

That's exactly what he said about Connie Willis.  :)  But that turned out to
be more or less his reason.

>> Ven 

>> 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.. 

So had he! The point being that he was most irritated when he felt that she
wasn't giving a fair picture of the other side.  Austen seems not to even
consider that Mary might be really ill; she mercilessly exposes Mary as a
malingerer and a social climber.  If you're on Mary's side, this is very
nasty stuff.

>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.

_Promised Land_.  Have I mentioned how much I love this book?  I don't know
why, but it always makes me feel happy and warm inside.  :)  Probably
because it's a combination of romance and Western and survival novel.  Some
of my favorite parts are where Delanna has to learn how to clean and store
the different foods they grow.  It sounds mundane, but I'm fascinated every

>> 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.

This is actually what I like about it.  Romances (not the falling-in-love
kind, but the more general definition) always have Villains and
larger-than-life plots and wickedness and stuff like that.  Reality is both
more dull and more vivid than this.  Sure, it's just that Henry's father is
a snob, but that's all it will take to keep Catherine and Henry apart.
Catherine's happiness is effectively ruined without her being locked in a
tower or drugged or kidnapped by a spectral figure.

But remember that I read this from the safe distance of age.  If I'd still
been 17 at the time I would have hated it. :)  And the above analysis comes
from even later in my life than my first reading.  I keep hearing how
_Northanger Abbey_ is less well regarded than some of Austen's other books,
and I think I want to leap to its defense.  For me it just keeps getting
better and more solid as I get older.  This probably means I'm increasingly
stodgy and need some kind of fiber supplement.

>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. 

Oooh, yes.  I always wanted to read books in which the steady but boring
boyfriend turned out to be evil and wicked really.

>> 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 :-)

MWAHAHAHA!  It is our Evil Plan to turn you into a fanatic Janeite!

Actually, I'd be satisfied for you to read _Sense and Sensibility_.

Melissa Proffitt
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