Jane Austen was a load of re that I snipped off

Ven ven at vvcrane.fsnet.co.uk
Sun Jun 10 20:49:09 EDT 2001

> On Thu, 7 Jun 2001, Melissa Proffitt wrote:
> > 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.
and Paul said
> I don't know the book of which you speak well enough to make
> deliberate comment, but this doesn't make sense to me: surely, if Mary
> is a malingerer and a social climber, then she should be treated as
> such? 

Interesting. One of the things my English teacher used yto 
complain about was my tendency to ask why the author hadn't 
written a character differently or turned the plot another way. I'm 
still doing it which is how this bit of the argument got started. If an 
author wrote it that way is there anything more to be said? 

Well, this brings me to a bit of argument I've been meaning to bring 
up, concerning author's predjudices. Suppose a character in a 
nineteenth century novel is presented as stupid, comically ugly and 
irredeemably vulgar mannered. It's designed to arouse sympathy 
for the young man  whose father wants him to marry this fright for 
her money.  But suppose this character is black, and we know 
from other sources that the author was actively racist, does this 
not change the picture we have of her and of the author's intent? 
Can we still treat her as the author depicts her? The author in 
question is Thackeray, the book Vanity Fair. I find I can overlook 
his treatment of this character but I cannot forgive it. I do find it 
acceptable to step outside the parameters of a book for the 
purpose of criticism


Those who fail to reread are doomed
 to read the same story everywhere -- Barthes
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