Thursday, May 14, 2009

Persuasion. Jane Austen. Novel.

New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1818.

Why read it? Anne Elliott and her lover Captain Wentworth had been engaged for eight years before they broke it off in deference to Anne’s family and friends. The novel is about how they became re-engaged and marry after their separation. Just a good story with Austen’s usual excellent characterizations.

Sample quotes:

“A few years before, Anne Elliott had been very pretty, but her bloom had vanished early….” p. 6. ………. “How quick come the reasons for approving what we like.” p. 15. ………. “…another lesson in the art of knowing our own nothingness beyond our own circle….” p. 42. ………. “One of the least agreeable circumstances of her residence there, was her being treated with too much confidence by all parties, and being too much in the secret of the complaints of each house…. She could do little more than listen patiently, soften every grievance, and excuse each to the other….” p. 44.

“No; the years which had destroyed her youth and bloom had only given him a more glowing, manly, open look, in no respect lessening his personal advantages. p. 61. ……….”She had given him up to oblige others…the effect of over-persuasion…weakness and timidity.” p. 61. ………. “Anne’s object was not to be in the way of anybody….” p. 84.

“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn….” p. 84. ………. “The sweet scenes of autumn were for a while put by—unless some tender sonnet, fraught with the apt analogy of the declining year, with declining happiness and the images of youth and hope, and spring, all gone together….” p. 85. ………. “He had a pleasing face and a melancholy air, just as he ought to have, and drew back from conversation.” p. 97.

[How’s the following to describe a male chauvinist pig? RayS. ] “Sir Walter…hoped she might make some amends for the many very plain faces he was continually passing in the streets. The worst of Bath was the number of its plain women. He did not mean to say that there were no pretty women, but the number of the plain was out of all proportion. He had frequently observed, as he walked, that one handsome face would be followed by thirty, or five and thirty frights; and once, as he had stood in a shop in Bond Street, he had counted eighty-seven women go by, one after another, without there being a tolerable face among them.” p. 141.

[Definition of a gentleman. RayS.]

“He was quite as good-looking as he had appeared at Lyme, his countenance improved by speaking, and his manners were so exactly what they ought to be, so polished, so easy, so particularly agreeable….” p. 143. ………. Admiral Croft: “I wonder where that boat was built. I would not venture over a horse pond in it.” p. 169. ………. “Benwick…is a clever man, a reading man….” p. 182.

“We [females] certainly do not forget you [males], so soon as you forget us…perhaps our fate rather than our merit…cannot help ourselves…live at home, quiet, confined and our feelings prey upon us [while] you are forced on exertion…have always a profession, pursuits, business of some sort or other, to take you back into the world immediately and continual occupation and change soon weaken impressions.” p. 232.

“She was deep in the happiness of such misery, or the misery of such happiness….” p. 229. ………. “…as they slowly paced the gradual ascent, heedless of every group around them, seeing neither sauntering politicians, bustling house-keepers, flirting girls, nor nursery-maids and children, they could indulge in those retrospections and acknowledgments, and especially in those explanations of what had directly preceded the present moment, which were so poignant and so ceaseless in interest.” p. 241. ………. “That evening seemed to be made up of exquisite moments.” p. 244.

Comment: And so, we leave Anne Elliott and her lover Captain Wentworth together again to live happily ever after in a state of blissful matrimony. It is ironic that Austen depicts the real strains of real marriages, usually mismatches, but still expects her heroines to find perfect happiness in marriage. RayS.

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