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Archive for the ‘Jane Austen’ Category

[Sorry for the drought in posts: I have been busy with other things on Peace and Wisdom.]

I had been meaning to respond to a post by Arnie on Austen-L about PJM Scott’s assessment of Mansfield Park.

Scott shows a good instinct for the deeper mysteries of MP when he spends a good amount of time in his chapter on MP raising questions regarding the following narration about Fanny Price’s thoughts about the home theatricals at Mansfield Park:

“For her own gratification she could have wished that something might be acted, for she had never seen even half a play, but everything of higher consequence was against it.”

Scott asks: “Are [Fanny’s] reactions hysterical, are Austen’s out of scale? Is the author advocating a supremely punctilious decorum for young people of the upper middle class such as hardly existed in her own life? and if so, why with such a passion?”

I agree with Trilling in fingering parental authority, as Edmund explains in this exchange with Tom.

“And I am convinced to the contrary. Nobody is fonder of the exercise of talent in young people, or promotes it more, than my father, and for anything of the acting, spouting, reciting kind, I think he has always a decided taste. I am sure he encouraged it in us as boys. How many a time have we mourned over the dead body of Julius Caesar, and to be’d and not to be’d, in this very room, for his amusement? And I am sure, my name was Norval, every evening of my life through one Christmas holidays.”

“It was a very different thing. You must see the difference yourself. My father wished us, as schoolboys, to speak well, but he would never wish his grown-up daughters to be acting plays. His sense of decorum is strict.” (13.25-6)

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