Jane Austen, was a lot of re that I snipped off

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Fri Jun 15 18:15:56 EDT 2001

On Mon, 11 Jun 2001 01:49:08 +0100, Ven wrote:

>> >> 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.
>The thing is that there are far worse evils than snobbery -- in JA's 
>time as well as ours. In some ways the gothics with their shadows 
>and dark secrets lurking beneath the surface are as true of 
>Regency life  as anything JA wrote. There are also greater 
>heroisms than Henry Tilney's.....................

But not every book has to be about those greater evils.  The existence of
the shabby kind of evil doesn't deny the greater one.  I think Catherine's
conclusion that "such things don't happen" (speaking of her fear that the
General murdered his wife) is false; no society, however utopian it may
seem, is immune to the great evils.  But I think she's right that it happens
less often than you'd think based on reading all those gothic novels.  Which
seems to me the point of the book: life is far more likely to be mundane
than not.  At least, I think it was true for Austen's little world (which
was really very small).

The truth isn't at either extreme.  The world isn't ALL dark and Gothic and
full of dark secrets any more than it's ALL light and happy and full of
minor heroisms.  It's a little of both.  I think it's a fallacy to insist
(not that I think you are) that anyone who looks happy is hiding a dark
secret, or that Austen was ignoring the true problems of her neighbors and
family, as much as it would be to say that no one ever got depressed or
killed her spouse because two hundred years ago everything was more

>> Actually, I'd be satisfied for you to read _Sense and Sensibility_.
>I've asked Sarah if I can borrow it, at any rate................. Is it the 
>one in which Hugh Grant appears in an unfortunate ginger wig -- the 
>film of which I mean.

Did he?  I don't remember.  I thought he had dark hair.  Though it did look
a trifle fluffy...but that could have been the effect of the weird collar.

I love that movie.  I have the book Emma Thompson published containing the
screenplay and the journal she kept during filming.  Fascinating reading.
There's also a letter Imogen Stubbs (who played Lucy) wrote as part of an
exercise they all did to get into character.  It's marvelous.

Melissa Proffitt
(I've been answering email all day and need to rescue my children from the
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