Monday, February 10, 2014

ramblings from an email (I think I am getting the flu....)

Man, everyone is all 'MANSFIELD PARK IS SOOO HORRIBLE OOOOOMG''s not that bad! It's not P&P, no, but it's a helluva lot better than, say, trying to read Shirley after Jane Eyre, and MP's psychology and characterization is really interesting. There's some fascinating parallels to JE for one thing -- poor girl brought up in rich house, secretly in love above her caste, trying to negotiate high society.....but very realistic, not Romantic. This is the reality principle full bore, which is why people don't like it, I think. Yeah, it's hard to bear sometimes, but it's not awful.

I seem to be having the opposite reactions from everyone else (typical!): Fanny is kind of sweet (yeah she's passive and a bit wet, but God, look at how she was brought up), Mary and Henry are horrifying (she's rude in the guise of being witty, he's like some awful version of Valmont (("I just want to make the....very....tiniest her heart!" YOU CREEP)), I don't think Austen is actually 'defending the values' of patriarchal estate society or whatever (Jane Austen? Satire is conservative by nature, but....yeah no), and I don't think it's even really that religious a novel.

In Austen there's a lot of conversation about religion in society, particularly what livings are worth &c., but it's not like Victorian novels, even Bronte's, where people are appealing to God every other paragraph and talking about their Christian duties &c &c. Hell, even in the Gothics Catherine is so fond of, there's paens to how God created all of this for us nearly every fifteen minutes. Austen is very worldly. It's like reading Chaucer about, who's the really awful one, the Summoner?

In fine: reading Victorian novels has clearly made me a hardened character.