Persuasion by Jane Austen - lyzard tutoring Smiler69

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Persuasion by Jane Austen - lyzard tutoring Smiler69

toukokuu 4, 2012, 8:15pm

Welcome all!

Time for another Jane Austen tutored read, this time of Persuasion. My tutee is Ilana (Smiler69).

We will be doing things a little differently this time as Ilana will be "reading" the novel by audiobook - and we're not quite sure how this is going to work!

Ordinarily Ilana rips through her audiobooks, but for this read she will be deliberately slowing herself down to a couple of chapters at a time, both to (hopefully!) increase her appreciation of the book, and to let any lurkers follow along as usual. I will be posting first and last sentences of each chapter so that Ilana can stay on track.

(My own copy of Persuasion uses consecutive chapters rather than being divided into volumes. If anyone needs me to include the alternative chapter headings - i.e. "Volume II Chapter 2" - please speak up!)

We will also be including "intermissions" every few chapters, as we did for Madeline's tutoring of Northanger Abbey, to allow lurkers to join in.

Persuasion - Background and Introduction

Persuasion was Jane Austen's last completed novel; it was published posthumously, with Northanger Abbey, in 1818. Austen was dying when she wrote it, and not surprisingly there is a rather elegaic feel to much of it. It is a novel about regrets and lost opportunities - but also about second chances. My experience is that is a novel that people tend to grow into a greater appreciation of as they get older.

However, because of the circumstances of its writing, there are some flaws in Persuasion that are not found in Austen's other novels. Ordinarily she was a careful rewriter, adjusting her details to make everything in her novels come together; but with Persuasion she didn't have the time or the strength to do this, and there are some definite problems with the working out of the novel's subplots as a consequence.

What strength Austen could muster, she put into getting her main story-line right - even refusing to let the manuscript rest after she had technically finished it, because she was dissatisfied with aspects of the story's resolution. Her last efforts went into re-writing and improving the ending of the novel.

I've always felt that Persuasion makes an interesting double-bill with Mansfield Park, which is significantly about the upholding of tradition in the face of a changing (and not for the better) world. Persuasion reverses that perspective, admits that some of those old ways weren't so great, and that some of the changes are a good and necessary thing.

In particular, this novel challenges the idea of "worth" being a thing belonging inherently to the upper classes, that is, to people who were born into a particular social position. It contrasts the people who have done nothing to earn their place in the world, but who nevertheless take their own superiority for granted, with the rising professional man who makes his own place in the world through his character and abilities.

The professional realm that Austen uses for this is the navy, which during the first decades of the 19th century became perceived (for reasons I won't get into here, but can if anyone wants me to) as the repository of "British virtue". Austen had brothers and other relatives who were naval officers, and Persuasion fits comfortably into a long line of English novels that focus on the navy and have naval officers as their heroes. (Frederick Marryat through C. S. Forester, right down to Patrick O'Brien.) We get an earlier example of this in Mansfield Park, where the heroine's favourite brother is in the navy.

There are some other important ways in which Persuasion challenges long-standing traditions about the world (particularly with respect to the reasons behind its heroine's situation when the story), but we'll take a look at those in context.

toukokuu 4, 2012, 8:20pm

First and last sentences for the first two chapters of Persuasion (I hope this doesn't lead to spoilers!!):

Chapter 1

Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch-hall, in Somersetshire...

...something should be struck out by one or the other to remove their embarrassments and reduce their expediture, without involving the loss of any indulgence of taste or pride.

Chapter 2

Mr Shepherd, a civil, cautious lawyer...

...and bring a choice of more suitable intimates within Miss Elliot's reach, was therefore an object of first-rate importance.

toukokuu 5, 2012, 4:57am

I shall be lurking and reading along with this. Persuasion is usually my favourite Jane Austen.

toukokuu 5, 2012, 5:14am


toukokuu 5, 2012, 9:58am

*peeks in*


toukokuu 5, 2012, 11:02am

*standing behind Madeline*

toukokuu 5, 2012, 11:16am

"Don't push!" ;)

toukokuu 5, 2012, 11:18am

*steps back and to the side, thinks there might be a fight brewing*

toukokuu 5, 2012, 11:20am

"She started it!"


toukokuu 5, 2012, 11:23am

*looks for nearest exit, just in case*

toukokuu 5, 2012, 11:25am

Come back, Mamie! I'll be good, I promise.

toukokuu 5, 2012, 11:31am

Do I need to turn this car around?

toukokuu 5, 2012, 11:32am

*immediately settles down in her seat and face forward*

toukokuu 5, 2012, 11:36am

*follows Julia's example, smiles nervously* Um..No, ma'am.

toukokuu 5, 2012, 5:13pm

I'd almost forgotten how rambunctious Jane Austen fans can get!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 5, 2012, 7:33pm

LOL! Liz told me things were getting rowdy over here, and I see what she means!

Sorry it's taken me so long to make my way here. As Liz and readers of my thread know, I had a screaming migraine yesterday, which spilled into the first part of today too, so that I wasn't in any kind of shape to listen to/read the novel with the kind of attention I need to be paying to it so I can take notes and ask questions.

Because I may want to quote passages, I'll also be referring to the e-text provided by Project Gutenberg. There's a feature with the Audible app that allows me to "bookmark" anywhere as I listen and also add notes, and I've already made extensive use of that feature as I listened to Chapter 1 a little bit earlier. I was going to listen to Chapter 2 as well, but found that the attention required to listen and take notes took up quite a bit of energy (given my weakened state), so that I'll stick to questions and comments on just the first chapter for now.

Here are my questions/comments so far:

1. What is the Baronettage?
I think I may have gotten my answer a little bit further on in the chapter, but still...

2. This one is a bit retarded, because I did look it up on wikipedia once, but it just won't stick in my head and keeps coming up in so many novels:
What does Esq. (for Esquire) mean?

3. "Then followed the history and rise of the ancient and respectable family, in the usual terms; how it had been first settled in Cheshire; how mentioned in Dugdale, serving the office of high sheriff, representing a borough in three successive parliaments, exertions of loyalty, and dignity of baronet, in the first year of Charles II, with all the Marys and Elizabeths they had married; forming altogether two handsome duodecimo pages,"

Several questions here:

- What was the first year of Charles II's reign?
- what is meant by "with all the Marys and Elizabeths"?
- what are duodecimo pages?

4. On Lady Elliot: "She had humoured, or softened, or concealed his failings, and promoted his real respectability for seventeen years; and though not the very happiest being in the world herself,"

No wonder she wasn't all that happy, considering all she had to put up with!

5. "That Lady Russell, of steady age and character, and extremely well provided for, should have no thought of a second marriage, needs no apology to the public, which is rather apt to be unreasonably discontented when a woman does marry again, than when she does not"

Why would the public be "rather apt to be unreasonably discontented when a woman does marry again"?

6. "It was so with Elizabeth, still the same handsome Miss Elliot that she had begun to be thirteen years ago, and Sir Walter might be excused, therefore, in forgetting her age, or, at least, be deemed only half a fool, for thinking himself and Elizabeth as blooming as ever, amidst the wreck of the good looks of everybody else; for he could plainly see how old all the rest of his family and acquaintance were growing. Anne haggard, Mary coarse, every face in the neighbourhood worsting, and the rapid increase of the crow's foot about Lady Russell's temples had long been a distress to him."

That part made me roll my eyes!

I've a few more questions and comments, but must run out for an errand right now so will continue when I get back!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 5, 2012, 8:44pm

A beautiful start, Ilana! Do continue to post even the most minor questions here, as you never know what will be helpful to others.

1. There were books published annually called "the Peerage" and "the Baronetage" that listed all the family details about lords (the Peerage) and baronets (the Baronetage).

Barons, viscounts, earls, marquises and dukes - collectively, "peers" - all received their titles over time, and often there were several, increasingly impressive titles in the same family. The Peerage was a directory of titles that listed the family name, when the titles were bestowed, and all the details of the current holder including his marriage, any children, and who his heir was.

The Baronetage is something similar, but for baronets (obviously). As Madeline and I discussed a bit re: Northanger Abbey, baronets lived in a sort of grey area between the aristocracy and the gentry, and were neither one thing or the other. Austen is having a joke here at Sir Walter Elliot's expense, because (as you'll discover), he's a terrible snob about his title, but still "only" a baronet, not even a member of the real aristocracy.

The Peerage and the Baronetage were updated every year, which is why Elizabeth Elliot can't stand looking at it any more: it lists her date of birth and the fact that she's not married.

2. "Esquire" is tricky because its meaning has shifted a lot over the centuries, but at this time it usually designated someone who was related to a lord, a baronet or a knight, but didn't have a title himself. Later it began to mean simply a gentleman (by birth if not behaviour!).

3. After the death of Oliver Cromwell and the end of his "Protectorate", and the unsuccessful attempt at ruling by his son, Richard, it was decided to restore the English Stuart monarchy, and Charles II ruled from 1660 - 1685.

with all the Marys and Elizabeths

Another little joke. "Mary" and "Elizabeth" were amongst the most common names for girls, probably because they were names used and re-used by the British royal families: there was nearly always a Princess Mary and/or a Princess Elizabeth. So those names were also popular amongst upwardly aspiring families because naming your daughters after current princesses was a way of declaring your loyalty (and of sucking up). "All the Marys and Elizabeths" suggests that the Elliots have been sucking up to royalty this way for over 150 years. We note that the current generation has a Mary and an Elizabeth.

what are duodecimo pages?

The cost of books varied with their size, which was a result of how they were printed and how many pages were made out of a single sheet of printing. "Duodecimo pages" means the sheet was folded twelve times, therefore it's quite a small volume. (Most books that were sold widely were duodecimo or octavio.)

4. Lady Elliot's marital experiences were unfortunately quite common. It was a wifely duty not to "see" a husband's faults.

5. Despite the fact that marriages at this social level were usually arranged, a woman was expected to bury her heart in her husband's grave. Widowhood was a sign of proper respect, while marrying a second time was considered not quite "nice". (Although men were free to do so.) Also, since a woman was "supposed" to marry for children and a home, and since a widow already had those things, a second marriage might imply an unseemly desire for s-e-x... :)

6. Trust me, you have not yet begun to roll your eyes at Sir Walter!

Great beginning, Ilana! I hope these answers have been helpful.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 6, 2012, 11:05am

Yes, very helpful, thanks Liz.

1. I do remember the discussion about baronets. Isn't it often the case that the biggest snobs are those that have the least cause to be so?

2. I never knew that Esquire meant that someone was merely related to a person holding a title. Seems kind of... I can't find the word... pathetic maybe? Though I know that titles meant everything in those days. What do you mean when you say the meaning changed over the centuries? What does it mean nowadays?

It did occur to me that the "Mary's and Elizabeths" comments was meant as something along the lines of what you explain. They certainly weren't thinking of us poor future generations who would have to try to sort out the business of who was who down the centuries!

4. I would have made a very poor wife then as now, no doubt!

5. Oh my. This is where I should blush I guess, but I can see how that implication would have been quite damning for a woman.

6. I definitely trust you on that one!

Ok, here are the other questions/comments I didn't have time to post here earlier:

7. "For thirteen years had she been doing the honours, and laying down the domestic law at home, and leading the way to the chaise and four, and walking immediately after Lady Russell out of all the drawing-rooms and dining-rooms in the country."

What does this mean?

8. "She had the remembrance of all this, she had the consciousness of being nine-and-twenty to give her some regrets and some apprehensions; she was fully satisfied of being still quite as handsome as ever, but she felt her approach to the years of danger, and would have rejoiced to be certain of being properly solicited by baronet-blood within the next twelvemonth or two."

What is meant by this?

9. "and, in one of their spring excursions to London, when Elizabeth was in her first bloom, Mr Elliot had been forced into the introduction."

I love that bit! :-)

Question: I am given to understand that they are related? If so, what is their relation?

10. "For they must have been seen together," he observed, "once at Tattersall's, and twice in the lobby of the House of Commons."

Is this to be taken to mean that they're involved in politics, or merely that they want to be seen as such?

11. "Yet so miserably had he conducted himself, that though she was at this present time (the summer of 1814) wearing black ribbons for his wife, she could not admit him to be worth thinking of again. The disgrace of his first marriage might, perhaps, as there was no reason to suppose it perpetuated by offspring, have been got over, had he not done worse; but he had, as by the accustomary intervention of kind friends, they had been informed, spoken most disrespectfully of them all, most slightingly and contemptuously of the very blood he belonged to, and the honours which were hereafter to be his own. This could not be pardoned."

This whole passage is confusing to me. Mr Eliot's wife has passed away, but why would Elizabeth be displaying mourning attire? Please explain the rest of the paragraph too!

12. "The Kellynch property was good, but not equal to Sir Walter's apprehension of the state required in its possessor."


13. "It had not been possible for him to spend less; he had done nothing but what Sir Walter Elliot was imperiously called on to do; but blameless as he was, he was not only growing dreadfully in debt, but was hearing of it so often, that it became vain to attempt concealing it longer, even partially, from his daughter. "

Am I reading too much into this, or is JA using the word "vain" here on purpose to also refer to his vanity?

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 6, 2012, 12:01am

"Esquire" has, as I say, meant a lot of different things. At one point the right to call yourself that meant you'd been of service to the monarch; at another, it meant you held a civil office, like being a JP; and certain army ranks also carried the right to use "esquire" after the name.

It's still associated with certain professions, and particulsar political and royal appointments, but people certainly don't use it like they used to.


7. In English society, there were degrees of distinction in everything: there weren't just distinctions in the major sense, like an Earl outranking a Baron, but minor distinctions between Earls. For example, if one person became an Earl in 1750 and another became an Earl in 1770, the older (1750) Earldom took precedence.

But it wasn't just about titles - it worked right the way down through things like civil appointments and degrees of relationship of an individual to other people. It was INCREDIBLY complicated, and one of the ways you could tell if someone was really of standing in society is that they understood all this crap all these terribly vital social distinctions.

One place that you most often saw this stuff in practise was during dinner-parties. It affected how people were placed around the table, what man escorted what woman to dinner, and (this is what we're dealing with here) in what order the women left the room, when they withdrew at the end of dinner.

and walking immediately after Lady Russell out of all the drawing-rooms and dining-rooms in the country.

Meaning that as the unmarried oldest daughter of a baronet, Elizabeth is the second-highest ranked woman in the area, after Lady Russell who is the widow of a knight. (When Lady Elliot was alive, she would have taken precedence over Lady Russell, because baronets outrank knights.)

You'll see passing references to this sort of thing frequently in novels of this time, because insisting on precedence at all times, even amongst friends and family, is one of the ways that snobs really exerted themselves in society. I think there's a reference later on in Persuasion to the fact that the second sister, Mary Musgrove, insists on "taking precedence" over her widowed mother-in-law, which is her right, but considered over the top and unkind.

8. Elizabeth is very close to being considered past marriageable age - turning thirty almost made it official.

9. He's a distant cousin (we're not given the information to work out how far, exactly), but the most immediate male relative of the same name, which makes him Sir Walter's heir - and hence entitled to call himself "esquire". :)

10. No, merely that Tattersall's (at the time, where the upper classes bought their horses) and the lobby of the House of Commons are two extremely public places. Sir Walter is illustrating how not-ashamed of being seen with Mr Elliot he was.

11. At this time when family was so critical, you were expected to go into mourning for even quite distant relatives, but to what degree depended on the relationship. For a spouse you wore full black and stopped attending social events for 6-12 months, for an aunt you might wear mauve, and still go to parties but not dance, etc. Black ribbons were a way of signifying mourning for a distant relative, which wouldn't interfere with your social life. They were worn for a period of months. The degree of relationship alone wouldn't necessarily warrant this from Elizabeth, but Mr Elliot is The Heir.

The rest of the paragraph lets us know that in spite of Mr Elliot's first marriage, Elizabeth is still prepared (read: eager, even desperate) to marry him; but after already being guilty of (i) not being suitably grateful for Sir Walter's notice, (ii) evading Elizabeth, and (iii) marrying without the family's approval, Mr Elliot has now committed the double-sin of speaking rudely of his relatives and of not feeling that being an Elliot is anything so very wonderful.

as by the accustomary intervention of kind friends, they had been informed

I love that line!

12. The Kellynch property is a good one (meaning it yields a good income), but it doesn't give Sir Walter the income that he thinks someone of his importance and standing deserves.

13. Quite likely the double meaning was intended. :)

toukokuu 6, 2012, 11:47am

Wonderful! Ask and ye shall receive. I can see why Madeline got so enthused about this tutoring business that she opted to read novels she would never in a million years wanted to tackle previously!

So I ended up doing my homework last night and listened to Chapter 2 while taking all the notes I could think of, so am ready for a next round of questions (I'll keep numbering them in ascending order, in case I ever want to refer back to a previous question and also because I'm curious to see how many questions and comments I'll have made by the end!)

Here are my question and comments for Chapter II
beginning with: "Mr Shepherd, a civil, cautious lawyer, who, whatever might be his hold or his views on Sir Walter, would rather have the disagreeable prompted by anybody else" (I love this bit, by the way). And ending with: "and a removal that would leave Mrs Clay behind, and bring a choice of more suitable intimates within Miss Elliot's reach, was therefore an object of first-rate importance.

"Herself the widow of only a knight, she gave the dignity of a baronet all its due;

I was going to ask you what was meant by "the widow of only a knight", but you've answered that with question #7 (this is where my numbering system starts to make sense!) :-)

15. "To live no longer with the decencies even of a private gentleman!"

What is meant by this?

16. "But the usual fate of Anne attended her, in having something very opposite from her inclination fixed on. She disliked Bath, and did not think it agreed with her; and Bath was to be her home.

Regardless of what comes just a few sentences later, is this meant as a joke? because it's the opposite from her inclination, so she assumes that's the option that will be chosen?

17. "Sir Walter had at first thought more of London; but Mr Shepherd felt that he could not be trusted in London"

Why is this? Because he's likely to spend more money there? I guess the following confirms this:

"It was a much safer place for a gentleman in his predicament: he might there be important at comparatively little expense."

18. "Lady Russell was fond of Bath, in short, and disposed to think it must suit them all"

I love this part! All the more so knowing that JA herself didn't like Bath, as you've told us over on the Northanger Abbey thread.

19. "How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!"

Wonderful! Yes indeed!

20. "Kellynch Hall was to be let. This, however, was a profound secret, not to be breathed beyond their own circle."

Why is it such a secret if everybody's bound to find out about it sooner or later anyway?

21. "It was with the daughter of Mr Shepherd, who had returned, after an unprosperous marriage"

What does this mean? Divorce wan't an option of course, but was separation acceptable?

22. "and who had made herself so acceptable to Miss Elliot, as to have been already staying there more than once, in spite of all that Lady Russell, who thought it a friendship quite out of place, could hint of caution and reserve."

Am I right in assuming that Lady Russell disapproves of their friendship because Mrs Clay, as a lawyer's daughter, isn't in the right social class? and/or because she is separated from her husband?

This was a short chapter, so quickly got through. As I said before, I'll AIM for two chapters a day, but might just manage one at a time, which will make this a longer process. I don't mind as long as you don't Liz!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 8, 2012, 8:24pm

One chapter at a time sounds like an excellent idea - I can't go any faster, even if you can! :)

15. The expression "private gentleman" means that someone has birth and position and doesn't have to work - he has an income from property, investments, inheritance. As a part of maintaining that position in life, there were certain things, of certain quality, that you were supposed to have, in terms of your home, your clothes, your horses, etc. - these were "the decencies of a private gentleman".

However, from what we know of Sir Walter, we can imagine that one man's decencies might be another man's extravagances. The considers giving up luxuries he can't afford as not living like a gentleman any more.

16. No, it's not a joke. She's just learned that the decision she most dreads has been made. The next paragraphs are about how that decision was made.

17. Yes, too many temptations.

18. There's a much stronger autobiographical element to Persuasion that Austen's other novels. She's fairly detached from her other heroines, but quite close to Anne, which adds to the emotion of the story.

20. They don't want anyone to know about it while they're still in the neighbourhood - it would be too humiliating. "Oh, how the mighty have fallen!"

21. Mrs Clay is a widow, but her story is told so obliquely that we do get the impression that there might have been something dodgy about her marriage. Perhaps her husband deserted her, but she got lucky (so to speak) and he died. "Unprosperous" is meant literally; her husband has left her nothing to live on, which is why she has come back to her father's.

22. Friendships across classes were disapproved generally, as you say, but were also considered damaging to both parties, even under fairly propitious circumstances (like that between Emma and Harriet in Emma). Here, Mrs Clay is battening onto the Elliots and flattering and sucking up to make herself welcome. Her behaviour is encouraging the worst in Elizabeth, and will eventually in Sir Walter.

But yes, both her (lack of) social standing and the hint of scandal about her makes this an inappropriate friendship.

(Of course, we're talking financial necessity here, so it's hard not to sympathise with Mrs Clay a little. The more time she spends with the Elliots, the less she has to pay her own expenses.)

toukokuu 6, 2012, 6:42pm

Chapter 3

"I must take leave to observe, Sir Walter," said Mr Shepherd...

"...a few months more, and he, perhaps, may be walking here."

toukokuu 6, 2012, 8:05pm

Thank Liz. Will listen to chapter 3 sometime this evening.

By the way, I just want to say that I don't mind people jumping in and commenting, as long as the comments regarding the plot of the novel are only about the chapters I've already covered, for obvious reasons! I know that Liz is planning to put in official "breaks", but I'm just putting that out there...

toukokuu 6, 2012, 9:33pm

Just noticed this, so I'll be watching too.

toukokuu 6, 2012, 9:40pm

I'll just say I arrived via your thread, Ilana, and I'm already greatly enjoying this. Persuasion is my favorite JA after P & P.

toukokuu 6, 2012, 10:51pm

More students? Don't we have any class size limits around here!?

toukokuu 6, 2012, 10:54pm

They're just auditing the course. :)

toukokuu 6, 2012, 11:19pm

Right, I've got homework to do tonight. Will be back with questions tomorrow, but probably not before evening as I have class during the day. If I can squeeze in before class, I'll post then, otherwise see you later Liz.

Welcome everyone. Auditors welcome of course.

Joe, Persuasion is my 6th Jane Austen novel since last year. After this I'll have read all her major novels. Interestingly enough, I more or less grew to like each novel better than the last as I read them in publication order, with the exception of P&P maybe, which I disliked more than S&S. But since I've been following Liz's tutoring, I actually look forward to going back to those two and rediscovering them through her enthusiastic eyes. Maybe a project for next year?

toukokuu 6, 2012, 11:22pm

Noted. :)

Certainly take your time over this, Ilana, and don't worry that you're neglecting things if you have other commitments, or just feel like doing something else. Setting your own pace is part of the tutoring experience!

toukokuu 7, 2012, 12:17am

More students? Don't we have any class size limits around here!?

nah, I'm the backup instructor. In case the original feels faint, or gets carried off by Cpt. Wentworth, or goes for a tea break. Otherwise I'll just sit quietly at the side.

toukokuu 7, 2012, 12:20am

or gets carried off by Cpt. Wentworth

Get in line, sister!

toukokuu 7, 2012, 12:30am

*settles back with the popcorn 'cause this is gonna be gooood, wonders where Julia is with the drinks*

toukokuu 7, 2012, 9:15am


*hiccup! passes wine bottle to Mamie*

toukokuu 7, 2012, 10:31am

or gets carried off by Cpt. Wentworth

Get in line, sister!

As I said in my original message--he's all yours. I'm a Darcy woman. ;-)

toukokuu 7, 2012, 4:29pm

And we already lost Madeline to Henry Tilney.

It's an interesting kind of personality test, actually...

toukokuu 7, 2012, 5:31pm

And we already lost Madeline to Henry Tilney.

I missed that development! I wonder how her family has taken the news.

Yes, it is an interesting personality test.

toukokuu 7, 2012, 7:14pm


toukokuu 7, 2012, 9:17pm

Meanwhile, I haven't fallen for anyone, but that's not too surprising.

Working on questions for chapter III now...

toukokuu 7, 2012, 9:19pm

Working on questions for chapter III now...

Girds loins...

toukokuu 7, 2012, 9:42pm

23. "Many a noble fortune has been made during the war."

Huh! First time I've seen JA acknowledge in one of her novels that there was a war on. I'm assuming we're talking specifically about the Napoleonic war?

24. "I presume to observe, Sir Walter, that, in the way of business, gentlemen of the navy are well to deal with."

Ah! So we've come to the navy! Liz, this is your cue to tell us why the navy was seen as the repository of "British virtue"...

25. "I venture to hint, that Sir Walter Elliot cannot be half so jealous for his own, as John Shepherd will be for him."

Why are the men continually referring to themselves and the man they're conversing with by using their full name? It seems quite affected.

26. "He is a rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he was stationed there, I believe, several years."

How come Anne knows so much about him already and what is the 'white'?

27. "Mr Shepherd hastened to assure him, that Admiral Croft was a very hale, hearty, well-looking man, a little weather-beaten, to be sure, but not much, and quite the gentleman in all his notions and behaviour"

I can understand why the second point might be important, but why should Admiral Croft's appearance matter in the least to Sir Elliot? Or is this simply JA's way of letting the reader know the Admiral is a dish?

That's all the questions I have for this chapter. Chapter IV is very short, so I may, if I'm not too tired, listen to chapter V as well... in any case, I'll be posting my questions tomorrow!

Hope you're having a great day Liz!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 7, 2012, 11:58pm

British naval history...not my best subject, but here goes!

23. Austen, or rather her young women and their anxious mothers, actually spend quite a lot of time talking about officers, if not exactly the war... :)

I'm always a bit bemused by the "Austen doesn't acknowledge the war" brigade - very few writers at this time did, except when they were exploiting the war for their own purposes.

The fact is, at the time she was writing England had been at war for once reason or another for decades; it was just the way things were and unless people had relatives involved, they stopped paying much attention. And if you did have relatives involved, you were supposed to keep a stiff upper lip and not show that you were worried. So this kind of silence is not unusual.

However---various academics have pointed out that the detail in Persuasion about ships, commands, battles, life on board ship, etc, shows that Austen knew a great deal about the naval aspects of the recent wars, at least, even if she didn't always choose to talk about it.

One of the main consequences of the state of ongoing war-fare was that England had a massive surplus of women. For all that women were supposed to devote their lives to catching a husband, there just weren't enough men to go around, and - with few ways for women to support themselves - competition was fierce and desperate. This is one of the reasons the literature of the time is so obsessed with marriage.

24. I'll try to keep this short. :)

The theory of the British class system was that the upper classes had a responsibility to the lower classes - to provide employment opportunities, look after theit tenants, give charity as needed, etc, and above all set an example of morality and conduct. Unfortunately during the early 19th century things were about as far from this as you can imagine: amongst the aristocracy there were scandals, divorces, open adultery, out-of-control gambling, various debaucheries - at the centre of it all the Prince Regent. Meanwhile, his brother, the Duke of York, who was Commander in Chief, was caught in a scandal when it turned out his mistress was selling promotions to aspiring officers and then getting her lover to arrange them.

So in short---Britain needed a hero, someone to look up to as a role-model, since the traditional models were letting everyone down; and the job went to Horatio Nelson - the navy at this time had had a lot of success in battles and was generally perceived as very glamorous. Nelson himself had risen through the ranks from poor and obscure beginnings, and so made a pointed contrast to the profligate aristocracy who were handed everything on a platter.

Unfortunately, Nelson then embarrassed his worshippers by having an open affair with a married woman. However, his victory and death in the Battle of Trafalgar meant that everyone was free to idealise him, and they did (Robert Southey's sanitised Life Of Nelson was a BIG help); but what they also did was build "the navy" into this kind of mythical realm of chivalry and virtue, where every officer was a gentleman. This attitude is very pervasive in the writings of the early decades of the 19th century, and over time it spawned a whole subgenre of novels with naval officers as their heroes.

Persuasion is actually an early example of this, albeit one confined to land; the naval career of the novel's hero is closely modelled on the early career of Nelson. Pay attention to the way Austen presents her various naval characters, particularly in contrast to how she presents Sir Walter, who is the novel's representative of the failing "traditional" system.

26. "You" and "I" would have been perceived as overly familiar, putting a baronet and a solicitor on the same level. (European languages are better for these sorts of distinctions.) Sir Walter is the kind who would be very sensitive to those sorts of things. Also, Shepherd probably knows he likes hearing himself called "Sir Walter Elliot". :)

27 How come Anne knows so much about him already

Ha-HA! Madeline, are you paying attention?

The answer is---wait and see. :)

and what is the 'white'?

The British navy was organised into squadrons named and ranked by colour - red, white and blue - each of which had admirals, vice-admirals and rear-admirals. Nelson was a vice-admiral of 'the white'. A rear-admiral of 'the white', as Admiral Croft is, is the eighth-highest ranking officer in the navy.

28. The vain Sir Walter is obsessed with people's appearance - as well as his own - and judges everyone that way. Shepherd knows this and is breaking the news gently that Admiral Croft might not meet Sir Walter's standards.

Remember, one of Sir Walter's many objections to the navy is that, "A sailor grows old sooner than any other man... They are all knocked about, and exposed to every climate, and every weather, till they are not fit to be seen."

toukokuu 7, 2012, 11:53pm

> 41

The answer is---wait and see. :)

Tee hee!

toukokuu 8, 2012, 4:36pm

Sorry, Ilana, I should have posted the chapter starts and finishes yesterday - here they are:

Chapter 4

He was not Mr Wentworth, the former curate of Monkford...

...need not involve any particular awkwardness

Chapter 4 is quite short, so I will post Chapter 5, too, in case you want to go on:

Chapter 5

On the morning appointed for Admiral and Mrs Croft's seeing Kellynch...

...both the Miss Musgroves, at Mary's particular invitation.

FYI, lurkers - the first intermission will be at the end of Chapter 6.

toukokuu 8, 2012, 9:55pm

Is it too late for me to claim Mr. Knightley as my very own? I've always had a soft spot for that guy.

toukokuu 8, 2012, 10:00pm

At the moment he's wide open.

(P.S. Me, too!)

toukokuu 8, 2012, 10:01pm

Excellent! Consider him claimed then, ladies. :)

toukokuu 8, 2012, 10:09pm

Shall we toast Julia's conquest?

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 8, 2012, 10:14pm

*raises glass in Julia and Mr. Knightley's honor*

Hey, Liz, at least I know who Mr. Knightley is!
(I never knew that Jane Austen could be so much fun!)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 8, 2012, 10:12pm

Wonderful explanations Liz! Once again, your input increases my appreciation for the text tenfold. I know that contemporary readers were well aware of all JA was referring to, but it would have required much too much work on my part to check into all the details she touches upon in her novels.

Of course you're right that the majority of novels didn't mention the war at the time, the same way many novels in the past century and this one didn't mention whatever war happened to be on. Wars seem to be a fact of life, and life goes on beyond the locus of carnage.

So I guess JA gets the credit as the very first author to have introduced a naval officer as a romantic hero?

I love that I got a wait and see! I knew I was bound to get at least one of those, and did suspect this question was wide open for one. I'm usually good at spotting sections that are likely to be developed further on in the story, but I humbly accept having been gently put in my place! ;-)

So, moving forward: I've had a very long and very full day and am in fact about to turn in for the night, something which I don't normally do quite this early at night. So I'll post my questions for chapter 4 tomorrow, very likely along with those from chapter 5 if I can stay awake and aware enough to make notes as I listen.

Once again, thanks ever so much for sharing your vast knowledge and making this that much more enjoyable a reading experience!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 10, 2012, 1:24am

You're very welcome. Don't feel you're imposing on me - as I've said to Madeline, this is my idea of fun! :)

Also, don't rush through Chapter 5 if you're tired, it'll keep. This isn't homework!!

So I guess JA gets the credit as the very first author to have introduced a naval officer as a romantic hero?

I can't offhand think of an earlier one; if any come to mind through this I'll post them. Probably there were some in the wake of the Battle of Trafalgar (which was 1805), but they may not have been so successful.

toukokuu 8, 2012, 10:39pm

>>#48 I'm glad you got something out of Emma! :)

toukokuu 9, 2012, 5:34pm

Ok, am now going to start putting together my questions/comments for Chapters IV and V.

toukokuu 9, 2012, 5:49pm

Chapter IV

29. "but a Captain Frederick Wentworth, his brother, who being made commander in consequence of the action off St Domingo"

What is the action off St Domingo mentioned here?

30. Why does JA rush through the whole introduction and romance of Wentworth and Anne? In no time at all they're deeply in love and then it's over just as quickly!

31. "who had nothing but himself to recommend him, and no hopes of attaining affluence, but in the chances of a most uncertain profession"

What does "the chances of a most uncertain profession" mean?

32. It took me half the chapter to realize that that whole romance with Wentworth had occurred 7 years previously, which is part of the reason I was surprised that it was all rushed through!

toukokuu 9, 2012, 6:06pm

Chapter V

33. I love this passage:

"Sir Walter, without hesitation, declared the Admiral to be the best-looking sailor he had ever met with, and went so far as to say, that if his own man might have had the arranging of his hair, he should not be ashamed of being seen with him any where; and the Admiral, with sympathetic cordiality, observed to his wife as they drove back through the park, "I thought we should soon come to a deal, my dear, in spite of what they told us at Taunton. The Baronet will never set the Thames on fire, but there seems to be no harm in him."--reciprocal compliments, which would have been esteemed about equal."

34. "The Crofts were to have possession at Michaelmas"

When and what is Michaelmas?

35. "she was sensible that results the most serious to his family from the intimacy were more than possible."

I can't make heads nor tails of this sentence... this is the kind of prose used by JA that throws me off every time. Is it me or does it seem unnecessarily convoluted?

36. "and one thing I have had to do, Mary, of a more trying nature: going to almost every house in the parish, as a sort of take-leave. I was told that they wished it."

Why must she do this? And why specifically Anne?

37. I've come across this in countless novels and always forget to look it up: what is a nosegay?

38. "Anne had always thought such a style of intercourse highly imprudent; but she had ceased to endeavour to check it, from believing that, though there were on each side continual subjects of offence, neither family could now do without it."

Please explain what this means? What style of intercourse? What is a style of intercourse to begin with? Gha!

39. Wonderful passage!

"To the Great House accordingly they went, to sit the full half hour in the old-fashioned square parlour, with a small carpet and shining floor, to which the present daughters of the house were gradually giving the proper air of confusion by a grand piano-forte and a harp, flower-stands and little tables placed in every direction. Oh! could the originals of the portraits against the wainscot, could the gentlemen in brown velvet and the ladies in blue satin have seen what was going on, have been conscious of such an overthrow of all order and neatness! The portraits themselves seemed to be staring in astonishment."

40. "The father and mother were in the old English style, and the young people in the new."

What are the old style and the 'new' like and how do their differ?

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 10, 2012, 1:29am

29. The Battle of Santo (St) Domingo (now called San Domingo) took place in February of 1806, and was a major British naval victory. St Domingo was actually a Spanish colony in the Caribbean, but it was occupied by the French who had initially gained dominance in naval warfare by taking over various strategic ports and positions. The British in turned gained their dominance by driving the French out of these positions and establishing their own forces. The Battle of Santo Domingo was the last major sea battle between the French and the British and pretty much gave Britain "ownership" of the seas.

The victory was celebrated in a big way in Britain and the officers who commanded were hailed as heroes - one of them being Frederick Wentworth, who gets promoted as a consequence of his involvement. Promotion meant being put in charge of bigger and better ships, with bigger and better career opportunities (see #31).

30 Yes, see #32. And it was all over pretty quickly...not that, for Anne, it is over...

31. In the British armed forces at the time, in order to rise from the rank and file and become an officer you usually needed "interest" - higher posts were bought, or were gained through having friends in high places; talent often wasn't enough. This was a way of ensuring that officers were "the right sort of people", i.e. from the upper classes (and as you might imagine, led to a healthy proportion of unfit officers, since birth was more important than ability).

In the navy, therefore, to get your first command you generally needed a "contact". Success in a naval career then depended upon (of course) being involved in successful battles. When a battle was won and a ship captured, the men on the winning ship got a slice of the profits according to their rank - "prize-money". A good (and lucky) ship's captain could make an enormous fortune.

So the navy is "an uncertain profession" because (i) you could get killed any time, (ii) you needed contacts and/or luck to get ahead, and (iii) depending on the battles you fought in, you might never win any "prize-money" and have to depend on your salary (which wasn't much).

33. The Crofts are hilarious.

34. The British business year was divided into quarters that were named after various public or religious observances - these were usually when wages and rents were paid, interest payments received, and as here when contracts began. Michaelmas (the Feast of St Michael) is at the end of September.

35. Grammatically correct prose, you mean?? :)

We would probably say "She was worried that the intimacy between Sir Walter and Mrs Clay might have serious consequences for his family" - the oblique phrasing is partly because (as wives weren't "supposed" to see husbands' faults) daughters weren't "supposed" to criticise their parents or be aware of their weaknesses. Anne has seen that Mrs Clay is playing on Sir Walter's vanity, and is worried that she might do it so well as to lure him into marriage.

36. This kind of contact with the neighbouring families is one of the responsibilities of the "head" family in the area - it was one of the expected courtesies. There were rules about who called on who, when it was done, and who did it first.

Strictly speaking, the responsibility for these social duties would have been Elizabeth's, as the eldest, but we can imagine that she's always shunted it onto Anne. In this case, probably the neighbours "wanted it" out of a mixture of curiosity and a genuine desire to say goodbye to Anne. But for Anne it means having the same painful conversation over and over.

37. A small posy of flowers, which was often given as a gift.

38. A lot of social interaction at this point was highly ritualised; and there were different levels of formality and informality about inter-friend and inter-family contact. (This is one of the things Madeline struggled with in Emma - why are these people behaving like this!?) How people interacted was their "style of intercourse".

(You will appreciate that until very recently, "intercourse" meant interaction or conversation. It's one of those 19th century words that people today tend to baulk at - the other being "ejaculated".)

This ties to #36, and the rules governing "calling". You see that Mary says: "I suppose you will not like to call at the Great House before they have been to see you?"

It also ties to #7, about distinctions. Where there is real friendship and feeling, formality could and should be set aside - thus we have Anne saying, "I should never think of standing on ceremony with people I know so well as Mrs and the Miss Musgroves."

By not being formal and acting by "the rules", you showed you had real affection for people. Mary, on the hand, is full of Elliot pride and insists on her relatives treating her with formality - while she is just rude to them, because as Musgroves they are "beneath her" (and beneath Anne). This is why, there were on each side continual subjects of offence.

40. They differ as the generations always do differ - kids these days! :)

This ties back to the passage you quoted in #39. The previous generation of Musgroves follow all the social rules, and treat Mary as a superior Elliot. They also keep a very formal house, which was the style of the late 18th century, when they were growing up - and when children were seen and not heard.

But their children are "the new generation": they mess up the house, redecorate rooms, behave how they like, make a lot of noise, don't care much for formality, and don't always treat their parents and siblings (and sister-in-law) with respect. On the other hand, we see a lot more genuine affection and happiness among the Musgroves than we ever do amongst the Elliots.

toukokuu 9, 2012, 7:46pm

Okay---we need to stop here and consider the significance of the way that Anne and Wentworth's break-up is handled, because it's here we see the distance between Austen and most other novelists of the 19th century. This is, in its own quiet way, quite a radical novel.

We need to understand that by the standards of her time, Anne has done exactly the right thing in breaking up with Wentworth in the face of disapproval and doubt from her elders. Anne has been a good and obedient girl

Now---if this were any other 19th century novel, Anne would find consolation in the fact that she has been good and obedient, and done her duty; and probably there would be reinforcement all through the text of how obedience brings happiness, and how disobedience can only end in disaster and unhappiness.

That is NOT what we get here. Anne is miserable, and not in the least consoled by the fact that she was dutiful. We also notice that she was perfectly prepared to ride out her father's disapproval, which for any "normal" novel heroine would have been enough.

Then look how cleverly Austen dissects out everyone's motives. It is perfectly clear to us (and probably after a time to Anne) that Lady Russell's disapproval of Wentworth is as much about her own snobbery as her genuine fears for Anne's happiness. He's not "our sort". This, of course, ties into the novel's overall theme of a changing world, and the new appreciation of the rising class of self-made, professional men. Lady Russell is just enough of an old-world snob to prefer Sir Walter Elliot to Captain Wentworth. She can't see the potential in Wentworth, only that right now he's a poor man who has to make his own way in the world.

Then, too, there's a measure of selfishness about it - she doesn't want to lose Anne's company. Probably she's always imagined Anne marrying someone in the neighbourhood, which was common at the time. As the wife of a naval officer, Anne will be leaving for good.

And of course, she gets her way by hitting Anne on her weak point - by convincing her that she would be a burden to a man in Wentworth's position (particularly given Sir Walter's determination "to do nothing for her" - i.e. give her no dowry), and that she is giving him up for his own good.

Now, Austen was a great believer in "duty" - but she knew very well that it was very often hard, thankless work. She also knew that unscrupulous people could use things like "duty" and "obedience" to get their own way, particularly when dealing with girls who were brought up to believe that they were always supposed to give way to other people's wants and demands.

In short, there's a reality in all this that borders on cynicism, particularly with regard to people's mixed motives, and the way they put a mask on the real reasons for their actions - or as Austen has already put it in another context, How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!

toukokuu 9, 2012, 8:46pm

Wonderful wonderful comments Liz, as always. I love how generous you are with your knowledge and that you take the time to point out what set Jane Austen's novels apart from the others, because of course, this is something that only a scholar on 19th century literature such as yourself would know—certainly not someone who likes to dabble on occasion like me.

Here's a question I hadn't thought of asking before: who were Austen's readers at the time? I'm especially curious knowing as I do from your comments on Northanger Abbey that reading novels was frowned upon in those days...

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 10, 2012, 6:52pm

It was frowned upon, but everyone did it; except, perhaps, for very strictly brought-up girls. The worth of a good novel was generally admitted, although it was felt most novels were trash. Novel-reading became increasingly widespread and accepted during the 19th century, and publishers would often release two or three different editions of the same book in different price ranges to attract a wider audience.

However, most novel-readers were middle-class and upwards (people with lots of leisure-time, in other words). Austen gained an audience fairly quickly; Sense And Sensibility did well, but Pride And Prejudice was a best-seller which was released several times in England and in translated versions all over Europe; after that her novels were sold as "by the author of P&P". Her humour and satire, and her eagle-eye on society, were very much appreciated; and female readers in particular appreciated the obvious worth she saw in women, and her understanding of the particular difficulties of their lives.

Austen was recognised fairly quickly as something special as a writer - although that said, there always have been critics willing to denigrate her works as being of lesser importance than others, because they're "only women's novels". (Not true then, not true now.) She became a permanent feature on the "greatest novelists" lists from the mid-19th century onwards - and often gets the thankless role of "token woman novelist" in studies of literary history - grr!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 9, 2012, 11:42pm

Beginning and end for:

Chapter 6

Anne had not wanted this visit to Uppercross...

...the resolution of doing so helped to form the comfort of their evening.

And just repeating, at the end of Chapter 6 we will be calling our first intermission. Lurkers, get your questions ready!

toukokuu 10, 2012, 1:39am

Apropos of Anne's broken engagement, I should also have mentioned that Austen herself was once briefly engaged, but broke it off almost at once. The circumstances are murky, but it is generally believed that she was pressured into it by her family but then decided she couldn't go through with it. So, the opposite of Anne's situation.

toukokuu 10, 2012, 10:04pm

Hi Liz, I'm one exhausted gal tonight after a long day. Hope you won't mind if I post my questions tomorrow... I'm off to bed!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 10, 2012, 10:15pm

Of course not - take care!

Actually - since Ilana has left this gap in proceedings, we might go ahead with INTERMISSION.

If any lurkers out there would like to make comments or ask questions, please go ahead!

toukokuu 10, 2012, 10:37pm

*raises hand*

toukokuu 10, 2012, 10:45pm

Yes, Ms Chu?

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 10, 2012, 11:18pm

Two questions:

1. Is Mary really sick, or is she just feigning illness to manipulate people?

2. I see that, in this novel, Anne is going to be our focus. Is this true of all JA novels - that a particular young lady makes her way through sitations in which she learns to overcome obstacles and therafter encounters true love? If so, would that have been JA's wish?

toukokuu 10, 2012, 10:51pm

By the way, I love that your questions, Ilana, are ones that I would have asked! :)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 10, 2012, 11:05pm


SC1. Mostly feigning, or anyway, exaggerating to get attention; you'll notice it doesn't stop her doing anything she really wants to. Like a great many women in her position - who have pulled off "the goal of a woman's life" by snagging a husband, a property and a nice income - she now doesn't have much to do with her time; and also like like many women in her position, she's made a hobby out of her own health.

SC2. To greater or lesser degrees. What you tend to find is that the central character is placed within a web of other characters who represent a variety of life-choices and options and ways of living. They present a picture of society in general, and also act as a yardstick for the reader, by which the heroine's own choices can be measured.

Austen probably was limited in her choices by her sex and when she was writing - but much of the art and the value of her novels is that she knows exactly, and usually by experience, what she's talking about. She prided herself on the authenticity and naturalness of her work, particularly in contrast to the usual exaggerations of the sentimental novel, or the false view of how life works offered by the didactic novel. (Charlotte Bronte once criticised her novels as being, "Too natural to be interesting." Austen probably would have taken that as a compliment!)

There is evidence in Austen's uncompleted novels that she was beginning to broaden the focus of her writing and experiment with different settings and character types, but she died before she was able to finish any that work..

toukokuu 10, 2012, 11:22pm

The good thing about JA's consistency so far is that I'm starting to feel more comfortable with her characters, although I still have to list them all as I read ... and keep referring back to my list!

toukokuu 10, 2012, 11:27pm

No man was an island in the early 19th century - interlocking families were a way of life. :)

Glad you're starting to feel more at home!

toukokuu 11, 2012, 12:15am

Just dropping by to say I am loving this thread! Persuasion is one of my favorite Austens (and one of my favorite books). I plan to continue lurking.

toukokuu 11, 2012, 12:36am

Great to have you here, Anne - please feel free to join in!

toukokuu 11, 2012, 6:19pm

Okay - while I remember to do so, I will officially call END OF INTERMISSION, but any lurkers out there can continue to add comments until Ilana is ready to get back into it.

toukokuu 11, 2012, 7:31pm

Hello! I l love the comments!

Madeline, I studied your tutored threads before jumping into my own so I'd have a good idea of how to go about it, which is why I'm probably asking similar questions as you would!

Must run errands and get some food in me, but I'll be back later with my questions on chapter 6!

toukokuu 11, 2012, 11:21pm

41. "Anne had not wanted this visit to Uppercross, to learn that a removal from one set of people to another, though at a distance of only three miles, will often include a total change of conversation, opinion, and idea."

Please explain?

42. "I hope we shall be in Bath in the winter; but remember, papa, if we do go, we must be in a good situation: none of your Queen Squares for us!"

What are the Queen Squares?

43. "She acknowledged it to be very fitting, that every little social commonwealth should dictate its own matters of discourse; and hoped, ere long, to become a not unworthy member of the one she was now transplanted into."

I'm confused. Help! Let's begin with 'social commonwealth' and then the overall meaning.

44. "she is always upon the gad"

I'm guessing 'gadding' means gossiping?

45. "Perhaps you may not have heard that he is married?"

My heart sank for a moment! But all is well!

46. "his sisters were now doing all they could for him, by calling him "poor Richard," been nothing better than a thick-headed, unfeeling, unprofitable Dick Musgrove"

Not connected to JA, but I've always wondered how and why Richard came to be abbreviated to "Dick"? And I'm quite sure the word "Dick" had no sexual connotations...

47. Why is Captain Wentworth to visit the Musgroves? I think I missed something.

48. "stamped as it was by poor Dick's having been six months under his care, and mentioning him in strong, though not perfectly well-spelt praise, as "a fine dashing felow, only two perticular about the schoolmaster,"

I love that, "not perfectly well-spelt" :-)

But what does he mean by being too particular about the schoolmaster?

And one last embarrassing question tonight about something I've wondered about for far too long, to which I couldn't find my answer when I googled it; not to do with Jane Austen at all. But could you please explain the use of single vs. double quotation marks? Pretty please?

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 12, 2012, 12:52am

41. Broadly speaking, a reference to the fact that every household - even with similar backgrounds and social standing - is quite different from every other household in how it manages day-to-day life and in what the people in it think and do.

Specifically, it means that Anne is already well aware that although Sir Walter and Elizabeth think the world (or at least the neighbourhood) revolves around them, actually none of their neighbours considers them that important, or spends much time thinking about them. Her visit to the Musgroves has just reinforced this awareness.

42. Bath had its fashionable and unfashionable areas - Queen Square was one of the first commercial developments in Bath, specifically for visitors, but by 1814 it was considered downmarket, and undesirable for upwardly mobile people like the Musgroves. "Queen-squares" is just a broad term for any place Henrietta and Louisa don't think is good enough for them.

43. Family, or group of people living together; a small community. Anne is realising that she has nothing much in common with any of the Musgroves, and that they don't intend to do anything or change anything to make her feel at home. She accepts this, and that she'll just have to fit in with their way of doing things and try to take an interest in their interests.

44. No, gadding about means visiting or socialising - although in this context it probably does involve gossiping! Mary is accusing her mother-in-law of being unable to keep her servants in line, who waste time in the village when they should be doing their work.

45. Phew! :)

46. I don't think anyone knows, but it is sometimes assumed that these odd nicknames (e.g. "Harry" from "Henry") came about after the Norman invasion of England, when the Anglo-Saxons were struggling with all the new words and names that the Normans brought with them and ended up creating their own versions of them.

No, the sexual connotations came along later...which is not to say that there weren't already lots of euphemisms for that in existence. :)

47. Captain Wentworth is coming to visit the Crofts, his sister and brother-in-law; although he will certainly call upon the Musgroves in a neighbourly way.

48. Because many boys joined the navy at a very early age, they would not have had much chance to get an education first. It was a naval regulation that ships had to have a teacher on board; in between their duties, the young men were supposed to receive proper schooling. This was a duty that bad officers often neglected (and yes, there were in fact many bad naval officers!), but good officers, like Wentworth, not only hired qualified teachers but made sure that their men attended their classes.

We gather that in addition to being two perticular about the schoolmaster, Wentworth also compelled Richard Musgrove to write to his mother occasionally.

Punctuation was quite slow in evolving and for a long time there were no real rules, it just varied from writer to writer and printer to printer; so if you look at original 18th and 19th century texts you'll see all sorts of usages. Inverted commas to indicate speech were not habitually used until well into the 18th century.

Commonly now, double inverted commas are used to indicate direct speech and single inverted commas to indicate a quotation, a phrase lifted from another context, or the use of a slang term, but you'll still see variations on that. Modern editions of classic literature will often reproduce whatever was used for the first edition.

toukokuu 13, 2012, 12:08am

Wonderfully helpful as always Liz.

It's been a very very long day... off to bed now. Hopefully will stay awake enough to listen to chapter 7.

I just realized today that I MUST finish this book by the end of the month, because I'm starting on Wolf Hall in June, with Suzanne (Chatterbox) tutoring me this time. Mind you, I suppose we can start later in the month with that one if I don't make quick enough progress with this one... I know for sure I can't be doing two tutored reads at the same time. Too much of a good thing would ruin the experience.

Audiobooks are usually very quickly gotten through, but in this case, it's actually twice the work; I can't really do anything else when I listen, as don't want to miss a single word, then must go through the Gutenberg text to quote sections. Not that I'm complaining, but just explaining why it is I'm going so VERY slowly.

toukokuu 13, 2012, 6:41pm

Well, don't worry about it from my end, Ilana - just carry on with whatever works best for you.

toukokuu 13, 2012, 10:35pm

Liz, I'll have my questions ready for you tomorrow. Today was taken up with a family brunch and making chicken pot pie in individual ramequins. I had no idea it was so much work...

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 14, 2012, 11:02pm

I'm ba-aaaaack! I'll be covering chapters 7 to 9 with this next series of questions:

Chapter 7

49. What was the role of an apothecary? How do they differ from doctors?

50. "She said nothing, therefore, till he was out of the room, but as soon as there was only Anne to hear--

"So you and I are to be left to shift by ourselves, with this poor sick child; and not a creature coming near us all the evening! I knew how it would be. This is always my luck. If there is anything disagreeable going on men are always sure to get out of it, and Charles is as bad as any of them. Very unfeeling! I must say it is very unfeeling of him to be running away from his poor little boy."

Was it usual for women of the period to express disapproval about the roles of men and women in such a context, or is JA expressing her own opinions in this section?

51. "I am sure I ought if I can, quite as much as Charles, for they want me excessively to be acquainted with Captain Wentworth"

Mary is SO full of herself! Takes after her father no doubt!

But does Mary not know about Anne's former attachment to Capt. Wentworth? I thought her immediate family knew about it...

52. "Altered beyond his knowledge." Anne fully submitted, in silent, deep mortification. Doubtless it was so, and she could take no revenge, for he was not altered, or not for the worse.

Why does Anne assume he means this is a negative way?

53. He had a heart for either of the Miss Musgroves, if they could catch it; a heart, in short, for any pleasing young woman who came in his way, excepting Anne Elliot. This was his only secret exception, when he said to his sister, in answer to her suppositions:--

"Yes, here I am, Sophia, quite ready to make a foolish match. Anybody between fifteen and thirty may have me for asking. A little beauty, and a few smiles, and a few compliments to the navy, and I am a lost man. Should not this be enough for a sailor, who has had no society among women to make him nice?""

He's not nice at all at this point, if you ask me!

toukokuu 14, 2012, 11:19pm

Chapter 8

54. "Whether former feelings were to be renewed must be brought to the proof; former times must undoubtedly be brought to the recollection of each; they could not but be reverted to; the year of their engagement could not but be named by him, in the little narratives or descriptions which conversation called forth. His profession qualified him, his disposition lead him, to talk; and "That was in the year six;" "That happened before I went to sea in the year six," occurred in the course of the first evening they spent together: "

What is he referring to when he says "they year six"?

55."The girls were now hunting for the Laconia; and Captain Wentworth could not deny himself the pleasure of taking the precious volume into his own hands"

What is the Laconia? What kind of volume is it?

56."When he is married, if we have the good luck to live to another war, we shall see him do as you and I, and a great many others, have done."

Why would he say that? Because of the opportunity for gains? Was war generally seen as a good thing, or is Jane Austen poking fun in her own way?

57."I know what it is, for Mr Musgrove always attends the assizes, and I am so glad when they are over, and he is safe back again."

What are the assizes. I'm guessing it's nothing dangerous and that JA is poking fun at Mrs Musgrove?

Chapter 9

58.""Upon my word it would," replied Mary. "Dear me! If he should rise to any very great honours! If he should ever be made a baronet! 'Lady Wentworth' sounds very well. That would be a noble thing, indeed, for Henrietta! She would take place of me then, and Henrietta would not dislike that. Sir Frederick and Lady Wentworth! It would be but a new creation, however, and I never think much of your new creations."

I assume that by "new creation" and not thinking much of those, she means that more recently titled gentry aren't as well regarded, as you explained earlier, yes?

I have only one more comment about this chapter: I felt so badly for poor Anne through it all! She should really find someone worthier of her affections—I don't like Capt Wentworth at all up till now!

toukokuu 15, 2012, 1:19am

I'm ba-aaaaack! I'll be covering chapters 7 to 9 with this next series of questions

Heaven help me!!

49. Strictly, apothecaries were similar to pharmacists today - they made up and disensed medicines and drugs, sometimes to prescription and sometimes to their own formulae. In the country they sometimes got called in when doctors weren't available, and prior to the 19th century sometimes took on more serious duties like midwifery or surgery. The 19th century was when the medical profession got itself organised (a lot of which consisted of forcing people out of what it considered its turf), and apothecaries lost most of their side-business.

50. JA often did use her characters to be socially critical, but you always need weigh what's being said against who's saying it.

Here, we probably feel that Mary has a point - If there is anything disagreeable going on men are always sure to get out of it - but Austen offsets it by making it clear that Mary's complaints stem from her equal desire to get away from the "poor little boy". So it looks like Austen doesn't really mean it, or is making a joke...but still, the criticism is there.

Strictly, wives weren't supposed to criticise their husbands, no matter how much cause they had to do so.



Mary was away at school at the time; only Sir Walter and Elizabeth knew about it, and of course they did their best to forget.

52. Well, because she knows it's the truth - she has faded. (And just imagine what she's had to put up with from her father on that subject for the past eight years.) But also, she's still feeling guilty about the broken engagement, and so would be inclined to take everything negatively.

53. "Nice", in this context, means "picky". :)

In contrast to our "a girl in every port" cliche, at the time sailors were viewed as particularly naive about women (because they joined the navy very young) and very susceptible, and so easy victims for young women on land.

But here Wentworth is being ironic - and punishing Anne. A little beauty, and a few smiles, and a few compliments to the navy, and I am a lost man. Should not this be enough for a sailor... This was about as much as a man was "supposed" to want from a woman, but that wasn't enough for Wentworth. He wanted more and thought he'd found it - but then she let him down. He is still very hurt by what Anne did, and that colours most of what he says and does.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 15, 2012, 1:43am

54. This refers back to #29, the Battle of Santo Domingo in 1806, when Wentworth had his big professional success and got promoted. But of course, "the year six" was also when he and Anne met.

55. There was (still is, I think) a publication called "the navy list" that a register of ships and their histories, and officers and their histories. They're tracing out Wentworth's career in it, and the "precious volume" is the one that describes the ships on which Wentworth first commanded, the Asp (a rickety old tub, but he captured a French frigate while in command of it), and the Laconia, to which he was then promoted.

56. A military man's view of the world - partly, yes, the opportunity for personal gain, but also that at the time when there was not a war, military men were stranded with nothing to do, and very slender pay. (This story is set between the signing of the Treaty of Fontainebleau in April 1814, when Napoleon was exiled to Elba, and his escape early the following year.)

57. In country areas, the assizes were periodic courts held four times a year; they didn't have permanent law courts in most areas. (This system stayed in place until the 1970s.) Also, instead of judges, landowners and other prominent locals acted as magistrates, and they oversaw trials for offences like poaching, drunk and disorderly, house-breaking, trespass, etc.

Mr Musgrove, we gather, is a magistrate, and so every three months he has to leave home to travel to the county seat to attend the assizes. Magistrates were sometimes threatened and even attacked (often over poaching cases), but from the context it seems Mrs Musgrove just doesn't like having her husband away from home.

58. Yes, if Wentworth were made a baronet now, it would be "a new creation" and whoever married him would "take precedence" over Mary, who is a mere Mrs. :)

We do need to make some allowances for Wentworth, I think: as I say, he was terribly hurt by Anne's defection - and now, too, just because we're seeing things mostly through her eyes, we shouldn't assume he's feeling any less uncomfortable.

toukokuu 15, 2012, 10:53pm

We do need to make some allowances for Wentworth, I think: as I say, he was terribly hurt by Anne's defection - and now, too, just because we're seeing things mostly through her eyes, we shouldn't assume he's feeling any less uncomfortable.

Fair enough. :-)

Didn't do my 'homework' last night, so don't have any questions right now. But I will post some tomorrow about chapter 10 at least, if not more.

toukokuu 15, 2012, 11:21pm

No problem, whenever you like.

I'm assuming that since you got hold of the Gutenberg text, you don't need the chapter starts and finishes - is that right?

toukokuu 15, 2012, 11:45pm

Yes, that's right Liz, thanks!

toukokuu 16, 2012, 4:16pm

In contrast to our "a girl in every port" cliche, at the time sailors were viewed as particularly naive about women (because they joined the navy very young) and very susceptible, and so easy victims for young women on land.

I wonder when things changed, as comes to public perception at least. The idea that sailors were naive at any time in history seems almost risible. I'm assuming this was more a question of perception that an actual fact, right?

toukokuu 16, 2012, 6:17pm

Well, yes and no. Because boys went to sea so early, it was true that they often had little chance to grow up with girls or be well-acquainted with young women, and so were naive in that sense; but on the other hand, the suggestion that anyone could actually remain naive in the environment of a naval vessel, and in time of war, was, well, pretty naive. :)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 16, 2012, 11:21pm


I suspect I won't have time to post anything here tomorrow, since I have a full day painting class, but I did cover Chapters X to XII since yesterday, so here are my questions:

Chapter X

begins with: "Other opportunities of making her observations could not fail to occur."
ends with: "found herself safely deposited by them at the Cottage."

59. ""What glorious weather for the Admiral and my sister! They meant to take a long drive this morning; perhaps we may hail them from some of these hills. They talked of coming into this side of the country. I wonder whereabouts they will upset to-day."

What is meant by "upset" here?

60. "Anne could not immediately fall into a quotation again. 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, blessed her memory. "

This is like Chinese to me. Please explain?

61. "and after another half mile of gradual ascent through large enclosures, where the ploughs at work, and the fresh made path spoke the farmer counteracting the sweets of poetical despondence, and meaning to have spring again"

Huh?? I feel like a barbarian...

62. "It is the worst evil of too yielding and indecisive a character, that no influence over it can be depended on. You are never sure of a good impression being durable; everybody may sway it."

Is he referring to Anne here?

63. "After a moment's pause, Captain Wentworth said--

"Do you mean that she refused him?"

"Oh! yes; certainly."

"When did that happen?"

I get the feeling this is a turning point...

64. "The listener's proverbial fate was not absolutely hers; she had heard no evil of herself, but she had heard a great deal of very painful import."
What is "the listener's proverbial fate"?

65. "which consequence was his dropping her arm almost every moment to cut off the heads of some nettles in the hedge with his switch"

What is a switch?

66. "My dear Admiral, that post! we shall certainly take that post."

But by coolly giving the reins a better direction herself they happily passed the danger"

What was the danger they averted here?

Coming up: Chapter XI

toukokuu 16, 2012, 11:21pm

Chapter XI

begins with: "The time now approached for Lady Russell's return"
ends with: "she had been eloquent on a point in which her own conduct would ill bear examination."

67. "these places must be visited, and visited again, to make the worth of Lyme understood."

I'm guessing Lyme is a tourist destination?

68. "who ever deserved to look on it at all, proceeded towards the Cobb"

What is the Cobb?

69. "trying to ascertain whether Marmion or The Lady of the Lake were to be preferred, and how ranked the Giaour and The Bride of Abydos; and moreover, how the Giaour was to be pronounced, he showed himself so intimately acquainted with all the tenderest songs of the one poet, and all the impassioned descriptions of hopeless agony of the other"

Which poets are referred to here?

So... I'll stop here and keep chapter XII for next time; it's getting late and I must be up very early in the morning. Take your time answering these Liz... I probably won't get here again before tomorrow evening.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 17, 2012, 8:32pm

Wow! Just as well you're taking a break, Ilana - I suspect it's going to take me the best part of a day to answer you!! :)

Actually, I do want to slow down here and be quite exhaustive with my answers, because we've reached an absolutely crucial section of this novel and its very important that we're clear about everything that's going on.

59. Ah, we had this one for Northanger Abbey, too! Carriages - that is, light carriages for getting around during the day, as opposed to travelling long distances - were built more for speed than stability and frequently tipped over or got involved in accidents. Apart from the need to control your horses, you could hit another carriage, run a wheel into something on the side of the road, or tip over while turning a corner.

It didn't always happen, of course, but often enough for there to be a running joke predicated on the assumption that it would. Here Wentworth, hearing that the Crofts have gone out for a drive, automatically wonders, "Whereabouts they will upset to-day."

60. Anne has a great love of poetry (so did Austen) and often recites to herself according to her mood; she does that various places in the novel. Here, however, she's trying to keep her mind on poetry in order to stop herself listening to Wentworth's conversation with Louisa and Henrietta. She knows she shouldn't be listening, but naturally enough she can't help herself (which brings us to #64).

But when she tries to use poetry to divert herself, she makes things worse for herself. It's autumn, so the leaves are turning, flowers are dying... The poetry that Anne thinks of that describes autumn reflects how she thinks of herself: the apt analogy of the declining year, with declining happiness, and the images of youth and hope, and spring, all gone together...

As Anne sees it, she gave up her spring and summer when she broke it off with Wentworth and now she feels herself to be in the autumn of her own life, with nothing to look forward to except a "declining" life. The bits of conversation she overhears and her surroundings are both reinforcing the magnitude of her mistake.

61. Ah! Now, this is important. The passage itself is simply describing a local farmer who is preparing his land for the crop-growing in the spring.

However - what is really happening here is that we - and Anne - are being reminded that although it is now autumn, spring will come again; life isn't over.

"The sweets of poetical despondence" ties together the actual state of the land (dying) with Anne's state of mind (depressed) - the negativity here is still strangely beautiful, as autumn is beautiful, and poetry on sad subjects can be beautiful, so "sweets" - but the farmer isn't sitting still and putting up with autumnal death. He's plowing ahead and preparing for a green future...and perhaps Anne should too... :)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 17, 2012, 10:59pm

I'm answering #62 separately, because this point is absolutely critical to the themes of the novel.

62. Here we tie back to what we were discussing with regard to "right" and "wrong" female behaviour.

We commented upon the fact that Austen is arguing in this novel against the social conventions that governed female behaviour at the time - that Anne being dutiful and obedient has made her miserable, not contented, as she was "supposed" to be. Now--- THE great platitude of the 19th century was that "good daughters make good wives" - which meant that girls brought up to be properly obedient, submissive and dutiful made properly obedient, submissive and dutiful wives. (And yes, it was just as horrifying as it sounds.)

What Austen is suggesting here is the value of a different kind of relationship - what today we would call companionate marriage.

By 19th century convention, by now Wentworth should have gotten over his initial anger and hurt and realised that Anne did the right thing in being submissive and obedient and giving him up - she was being "a good girl". But Wentworth doesn't think that at all. He doesn't see "good" and "dutiful"; he sees "weak" and "indecisive".

In other words, he doesn't want a submissive wife; he wants someone to stand shoulder to shoulder with him.

You remember I said earlier to Madeline that Austen often shaped her novels by placing the central characters against a background of other characters who represented different choices and ways of living. That's exactly what's going on here. We're given a good look at two different marriages here. On one hand we have the Musgroves, which is an example of a typical marriage at the time. Charles and Mary got married because they were neighbours, and because their families were on the same social level; they haven't any particularly strong feeling for one another, or much in common, so they just drift along. (Remember, too, that Charles married Mary after being rejected by Anne. His switching from one sister to the other suggests not much emotional capacity on his part - or on Mary's.)

BUT - on the other hand we have the Crofts, who are Austen's model of a better way of going about marriage. They are, of course, a naval couple. Like Wentworth and Anne, they fell in love quite swiftly - "If Miss Elliot were to hear how soon we came to an understanding, she would never be persuaded that we could be happy together," says Mrs Croft - and got married; but instead of staying quietly at home and putting up with their separations, Mrs Croft has since chosen to travel the world with her husband. (It was an officer's privilege to take his family along when he was assigned duty.) They two of them have "roughed it" together for years, and are perfectly happy and content.

So the Crofts are the measure of what Anne has given up - and what Wentworth (for all his platitudes about "women on board") has lost through her giving in to Lady Russell's persuasion.

And then we meet Wentworth's other friends, and get this broader picture of the navy as a kind of extended family, with the officers and their wives sharing a communal friendship and looking out for one another. Since Anne has never experienced proper family life amongst the Elliots, the realisation that she has cost herself in this respect - that she could have been part of this big, emotional "family", loved and looked after - is particularly painful for her.

A few other critical passages regarding Mrs Croft to consider:

"I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days."

We considered the expression "fine lady" as a pejorative when we were discussing Emma; the distinction here between two kinds of women, "fine ladies" and "rational creatures", is very telling.

"...I can safely say, that the happiest part of my life has been spent on board a ship. While we were together, you know, there was nothing to be feared... The only time I ever fancied myself unwell, or had any ideas of danger, was the winter I passed by myself...

And then we get this marvellous metaphorical depiction of the Crofts' married life:

But by coolly giving the reins a better direction herself, they happily passed the danger; and by once afterwards judiciously putting out her hand, they neither fell into a rut, nor afoul of a dung-cart; and Anne, with some amusement at their style of driving, which she imagined no bad representation of the general guidance of their affairs, found herself safely deposited by them at the cottage.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 17, 2012, 8:34pm

63. Ahh... :)

64. "Eavesdroppers hear no good of themselves."

65. A long stick, which he's picked up while walking.

66. There were stone mile-posts at the edges of roads, which posed a grave danger to the drivers and passengers of carriages: running into one would likely smash your wheel or axle (and upset the carriage).

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 17, 2012, 8:40pm

67. & 68.

Ah, Lyme! Centre of the Jane Austen tourist industry! :)

Lyme Regis is a coastal town in Dorset, in the south of England, which is famous for the amazing fossil deposits in its cliffs, including intact dinosaur skeletons. (Tracey Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures revolves around the palaeotological discoveries made in the area.) It was a fishing and shipbuilding town, but was also a popular spot for tourists. Jane Austen stayed there several times - and obviously liked it a lot better than she liked Bath! "The Cobb" is an extremely old stone harbour wall that juts out into the sea, and a very famous historical landmark. It is important in The French Lieutenant's Woman as well as in Persuasion.

I'll post some pictures tonight so we can get a better idea of the geography of this section of the novel.

69. Marmion and The Lady Of The Lake are poems by Sir Walter Scott; The Bride Of Abydos and The Giaour are by Lord Byron.

The discussion of poetry between Anne and Captain Benwick loops back to Anne's own indulgence in poetry on the country walk (#60), which actually ended up making her depressed. This was a peak period for English poetry, when the romantic poets were at the height of their popularity. Anne is aware of her own emotional susceptibility in this respect, and it makes her alert to Benwick's situation; she worries that he is feeding the grief of his bereavement by dwelling on these highly wrought, emotional works to the exclusion of all else. She's sympathetic, but sees the danger of what he's doing, and tries to steer him into some less emotional, more "rational" (there's that word again!) directions.

...she ventured to hope he did not always read only poetry; and to say, that she thought it was the misfortune of poetry, to be seldom safely enjoyed by those who enjoyed it completely; and that the strong feelings which alone could estimate it truly, were the very feelings which ought to taste it but sparingly...

But as Anne realises, here we have a textbook case of, "Do as I say, not as I do!"---

Anne could not but be amused at the idea of her coming to Lyme, to preach patience and resignation to a young man whom she had never seen before; nor could she help fearing, on more serious reflection, that, like many other great moralists and preachers, she had been eloquent on a point in which her own conduct would ill bear examination...

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 17, 2012, 8:11pm

Phew! Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I am exhausted! while Ilana's off at her class, I think we might call INTERMISSION. Speak up, you lurkers!

toukokuu 17, 2012, 10:47pm

Wow! No wonder you thought I'd posted enough questions for now... I'm amazed at the fact that not a single detail seems to escape you. "I don't know" mustn't be in your vocabulary I guess!

I want to respond to some of your responses, but as I predicted, I've no more energy than a dishrag right now, so will come back tomorrow to do so, while I also come to post my next series of questions.

Where are the lurkers in the meanwhile??

toukokuu 18, 2012, 8:11am

I'm here! I'm not sure when I'll get to the book, but I'll remember this thread when I do.

toukokuu 18, 2012, 10:38am

Lurking. Very much enjoying Liz's commentary. Brings back lovely memories of reading Persuasion. No questions. Do go on :-)

toukokuu 18, 2012, 12:38pm

The best thing about my annotated Persuasion is the maps.

toukokuu 18, 2012, 1:48pm

Another lurker enjoying this, thanks.

toukokuu 18, 2012, 6:32pm

Another lurker here. I've read Persuasion more than once, but now I'm learning how much I missed in my previous readings. Maybe it's time to think about another re-read...

toukokuu 18, 2012, 7:14pm

Hi, all! Great to have you here. No questions? Ask 'em if you got 'em! :)

Thanks for the map, Roni. Here is an overhead shot of Lyme Regis, showing The Cobb jutting out from the shore and the cliffs in the background:

toukokuu 18, 2012, 7:41pm

Well, we might call END OF INTERMISSION here, and pick up again whenever Ilana is ready to resume.

toukokuu 18, 2012, 10:19pm

Hello, hello, I'm back! Nice to see some lurkers give signs of life, and thanks for posting the picture and map.

Here are my comments on your replies Liz:

59. Anything that has to do with carriages is hard for me to understand, so sorry for making your repeat the part about them being easy to tip over and upset. I didn't even read that part thinking the word was used to mean that kind of 'upset', which is where the original confusion lay. I'll have to keep in mind that JA makes carriages quite a part of her stories.

60-61. As for poetic passages and references to poetry... having read very little of it myself, and only just come to it very recently, verse is often lost on me unfortunately, which is why I needed you to translate for me. But having gone back to those passages with your explanation in mind, I understand them much better. I'll keep in mind that Anne (and JA) immersed herself in that kind of reading and try to use my imagination a little bit more as I read along, but forgive me ahead of time if I lack the sensitivity sometimes to fully appreciate those kinds of passages. But I'm working on it!

"The sweets of poetical despondence" ties together the actual state of the land (dying) with Anne's state of mind (depressed) - the negativity here is still strangely beautiful, as autumn is beautiful, and poetry on sad subjects can be beautiful

I get the impression from this explanation that Jane Austen's own feelings of despair about her illness were given expression through Anne's sense of hopelessness, am I right?

62. I love this kind of analysis you do of the deeper motivations of the characters and of what JA is trying to communicate. Without your explanations, these aspects of her novels would go completely unnoticed to me as a modern reader unaware of the subtleties and conventions of the time. Your explanation in turn makes me appreciate Wentworth a lot more. The idea that he's looking for an 'equal' in some ways makes him much more appealing to me.

The contrast between the Crofts and Charles and Mary's marriage is so stark that it did occur to me that comparisons were being made.

You'll have to remind me what we said about "fine ladies" though, because it has now escaped me I'm afraid...

67-68 Liz, it's funny that you mention Remarkable Creatures, because from the moment you spoke of fossil deposits, that book came to mind. I read it as an ER and found it quite fascinating... so now I have a better mental image of the place.

I thought I had The French Lieutenant's Woman in my wishlist. It wasn't, so I've fixed that oversight now. :-)

69. ...she ventured to hope he did not always read only poetry; and to say, that she thought it was the misfortune of poetry, to be seldom safely enjoyed by those who enjoyed it completely; and that the strong feelings which alone could estimate it truly, were the very feelings which ought to taste it but sparingly...

I re-read this passage several time. First to figure it out, and then because I think it's quite brilliant.

Now I'm ready to post my questions about chapters XII and XIII...

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 18, 2012, 11:16pm

Chapter XII

beginning with: "Anne and Henrietta, finding themselves the earliest of the party the next morning"
ending with: "and when the horses were baited, he was off."

70. "There can be no doubt of its having been of the greatest service to Dr Shirley, after his illness, last spring twelve-month."

Who is Dr Shirley? I don't recall him being mentioned before.

71. "and this second meeting, short as it was, also proved again by the gentleman's looks, that he thought hers very lovely, and by the readiness and propriety of his apologies, that he was a man of exceedingly good manners. He seemed about thirty, and though not handsome, had an agreeable person. Anne felt that she should like to know who he was."

This is certainly a new and exciting new development! Did I understand correctly that this is the young Elliot heir? Didn't Elliot Sr have him in mind for Elizabeth originally?

72. "Depend upon it, that is a circumstance which his servants take care to publish, wherever he goes."

What is meant by "publish" here?

73. "Do you think he had the Elliot countenance? I hardly looked at him, I was looking at the horses; but I think he had something of the Elliot countenance, I wonder the arms did not strike me! Oh! the great-coat was hanging over the panel, and hid the arms, so it did; otherwise, I am sure, I should have observed them, and the livery too; if the servant had not been in mourning, one should have known him by the livery."

This is a strange comment... was there something mentioned about the Elliot arms before?? Are they ape-like? That would be pretty funny for a bunch of narcissists! :-)

74. Please explain "Lord Byron's "dark blue seas""

75. "all were contented to pass quietly and carefully down the steep flight, excepting Louisa; she must be jumped down them by Captain Wentworth. In all their walks, he had had to jump her from the stiles; the sensation was delightful to her."

I don't understand what Louisa is doing here... is she jumping down the steps? This seems ridiculous for a proper woman at that time no? Seems to me she's acting like a child! (by the way, this is something I'd do myself!)

I've been trying to understand what exactly occurred during this accident...

76. "at any rate, to enjoy the sight of a dead young lady, nay, two dead young ladies"

They're obviously NOT dead, so is the word referring to their fainting in this context?

77. "She endeavoured to be composed, and to be just. Without emulating the feelings of an Emma towards her Henry"

Which Emma and Henry is she referring to here? Is this another reference to a poem? A novel?

toukokuu 18, 2012, 11:16pm

Chapter XIII

beginning with: "The remainder of Anne's time at Uppercross"
ending with: "and she smiled over the many anxious feelings she had wasted on the subject."

78. "Vague wishes of getting Sarah thither, had occurred before to Mrs Musgrove and Henrietta"

Is Sarah the nursery-maid?

79. "that it was frightful to think, how long Miss Musgrove's recovery might yet be doubtful, and how liable she would still remain to suffer from the concussion hereafter!"

Are they exaggerating, or was a concussion thought to be a big deal back then, or did Louisa truly have such a bad accident? I don't understand... did she actually land on her head??

80. I love this quote:

"A new sort of way this, for a young fellow to be making love, by breaking his mistress's head, is not it, Miss Elliot? This is breaking a head and giving a plaster, truly!"

What was meant by a plaster? I know for sure they didn't have Band-Aids!

81. I love this commentary on how vain Mr Elliot Sr is:

"I should think he must be rather a dressy man for his time of life. Such a number of looking-glasses! oh Lord! there was no getting away from one's self. So I got Sophy to lend me a hand, and we soon shifted their quarters; and now I am quite snug, with my little shaving glass in one corner, and another great thing that I never go near."

82. "So ended all danger to Anne of meeting Captain Wentworth at Kellynch Hall, or of seeing him in company with her friend"

Is the "friend" being referred to in this case Louisa?

That's it for now! I'll be listening to chapter XiV now, which is quite a short one so perhaps I'll come back with questions for chapter XV as well tomorrow, but we shall see!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 19, 2012, 12:09am

This should keep me busy in the meantime. :)

Carriages in the 19th century were like cars today - there were differents types that appealed to different people, and authors used them symbolically to indicate personality types.

Here is a gig (the kind of carriage the Crofts were driving) and you can see how easily it might tip over, or someone could fall out (no seatbelts!):

I get the impression from this explanation that Jane Austen's own feelings of despair about her illness were given expression through Anne's sense of hopelessness, am I right?

Yes, that's a fair inference.

Usually in Austen's novels girls have to deal with troubles not of their own making, but much of the emotion of Persuasion stems from the fact that Anne has no-one but herself to blame for her situation.

"Fine lady" is actually quite hard to explain - it's something that emerges in context across a lot of 19th century writing. It's an expression you only tend to find in the writing of authors who were concerned and critical about women's lives and the way girls were raised - as here, where Austen makes a sharp distinction between fine ladies and rational creatures.

A "fine lady" is basically a decorative object - a woman whose purpose in life begins and ends with sitting around in a beautiful house, beautifully dressed, looking beautiful - and very little practical use to anyone - an early version of the "trophy wife", if you like. Then as now, some men wanted that kind of wife - although others preferred a real woman, a rational creature, someone they could build a life with.

I re-read this passage several time. First to figure it out, and then because I think it's quite brilliant.

Excellent! We're making progress! :)

Poetry is an acquired taste, of course, and even more than 19th century novels it suffers from the way it's taught in school. Have you been dropping in on the Shakespeare's sonnets thread at all? Great stuff!

toukokuu 19, 2012, 1:12am

70. Dr Shirley is the rector (minister) of the parish where the Musgroves live. He was mentioned during the country walk.

Dr Shirley is getting towards retirement age, and Henrietta Musgrove's sudden concern for his health stems from the fact that if he does retire, Charles Hayter, the curate-cousin Henrietta is sort-of-engaged-to, might be his replacement (and would then be able to afford to get married).


Did I understand correctly that this is the young Elliot heir? Didn't Elliot Sr have him in mind for Elizabeth originally?

Yes, and yes! :)

72. The word "publish" actually means "make public". Mary, with her eternally skewed point of view, imagines that Mr Elliot's servants go around telling everyone that Mr Elliot is Sir Walter Elliot's heir.

73. Hee, hee! "Arms", not "arms"!

If a family was old, or noble, it would have a hereditary coat-of-arms, a family crest, a symbolic representation of the family's history, which might indicate what an ancestor did to earn a title, or who they intermarried with; usually with a family motto in Latin.

It was a common practice to have the coat-of-arms painted on the doors of the family carriage, which is why Mary thinks she would have seen "the Elliot arms" on Mr Elliot's carriage, except that he'd left his coat lying over that part of the door and through the open window.

Such families would also have "liveries" for their manservants, combinations of colours or patterns as trimming on their uniforms, that indicated that the servants "belonged" to the family. So likewise, Mary thinks she would have seen "the Elliot livery" on the servants, except that as Mr Elliot is still in mourning for his wife, so are his servants - they were all dressed in black.

Of course, the joke here is that given what we know of Mr Elliot, very likely he wouldn't be bothering with "the Elliot arms" or "the Elliot livery".

74. This is a reference to Lord Byron's narrative poem, Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage, which was published in four parts from 1812 to 1818. It was the work that made Byron famous. It was largely autobiographical, and quite melancholy in tone - so we're not surprised to find that both Anne and Benwick are fond of it.

The lines in question are these:

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar;
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean — roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin — his control
Stops with the shore; — upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown...

75. Well, to be fair, Louisa is only twenty. And she's no "fine lady". :)

(And yeah, I'd probably do something like this too!)

But the other thing to take into consideration here is that girls at the time got very little exercise other than walking (and sometimes not that). Louisa is getting a thrill out of the combination of the physical sensation of jumping and Wentworth's attentions.

So what she's doing is jumping down several stairs at once, with Wentworth to keep a grip on her (probably by her arms, possibly by her waist...which might be why she likes it so much!) and make sure she lands safely without slipping or tripping. Only this time she jumps before he's ready for her and she does fall over when she lands - and hits her head hard on the stone pathway.

We need to remember these days that in Austen's time people frequently died of accidents and diseases that we now consider trivial, due to the state of medicine at the time. If Louisa had fractured her skull or developed a haematoma, she probably would have died. As it is, she's got a very severe concussion, which is bad enough.

76. Louisa is unconscious, Henrietta has fainted - so, "two dead young ladies". :)

This facetiousness is Austen's way of letting us know that everything will be all right - she gives us the point of view of the gawking locals, getting their entertainment out of the ruckus - for it proved twice as fine as first report.

77. This is a reference to a poem by Matthew Prior. In it, Henry tests Emma's love for him in a variety of ways. He tells her that he has fallen in love with another woman; she promises to devote herself to her "rival", as only Henry's happiness can make her happy.

Here, Anne believes that there is "an understanding" between Wentworth and Louisa and, without going so far as Emma, she did intend to nurse Louisa, with a zeal above the common claims of regard, for his sake.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 19, 2012, 1:45am

78. Yes, Sarah is the Musgroves' nursery-maid, who has been with the family forever and looked after all the children, including caring for them when they were ill.

79. See #75 - she's seriously ill.

80. Sticking-plaster was an adhesive bandage, and the fore-runner of bandaids!

Admiral Croft is using an old proverb here - "to break a head and give a plaister" - meaning to do someone a wrong and then make up for it (although the context often suggests that it would have been better not to do the wrong in the first place). The joke is that this is a literal description of Louisa's situation - but possibly the Admiral thinks that the "plaister" Wentworth will give her is marriage.

81. Yes, that's hilarious!

82. No, it's a reference to Lady Russell - she and Wentworth have yet to encounter one another and Anne doesn't want them to - hence "danger". She also isn't keen to see Wentworth at Kellynch, which is where they met when she broke their engagement - too many bad memories for both.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 19, 2012, 10:57am

This link is to an article in today's Guardian Review section. It might be pertinent to this thread:

Don't forget to try the quiz!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 19, 2012, 1:47pm

73. Ugh, I feel so foolish now. The worst part is, it did occur to me that she might mean "Arms" and not "arms", but I must not have been paying proper attention when I re-read that section. I still think my comment on his possibly having ape-like appendages is pretty funny. :-b

74. I love that section of Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage that you've quoted. Of course I've read about plenty of Byronic characters (Edward Rochester being first in line!), but I have yet to actually read anything by Byron himself. Thanks for giving me a foretaste, I'll have to look for it on Gutenberg when I'm in the mood for more!

75. I'll have to try to remember that fine lady = trophy wife. That'll help me to keep the distinction in mind. Do you think this connotation has survived in the present time?

I keep forgetting that what seem like minor health problems nowadays were often life-threatening in those days. I had issues with that from the first with Austen, when I read Sense and Sensibility (my first experience of JA) and was annoyed about all the fuss made around Marianne's illness. I wrote a comment about it on the Austenathon thread, and several people did point out the same to me, but it just won't stick for some reason. It would surely help me to appreciate much classic literature better not to forget this lesson!

82. Oh yes, right, I did infer that at some point, when I think it was spelled out in so many words.

#109 Thanks for sharing that article Kerry, I thought it was very interesting! I had no hope of managing that quiz though, what with my horrible memory for names and the fact that having only read Austen's major novels once so far, the various plots and characters refuse to stay in place!

What I found most fascinating was the question of Who marries for sex?, because I must admit that until now, I more or less assumed that sex did not exist at all in Jane Austen's world. Nor in most classic novels for that matter. For one thing, it suits my prudish nature to think so, but for another, I don't know at all how to work out the code authors had to revert to—it hadn't even occurred to me to interpret a woman being "beautiful" as having sex appeal in those days!

I've gotten halfway through chapter XVII and have very few questions and comments at this point. Will come back to post those few I do have later.

toukokuu 19, 2012, 5:53pm

There is scads of sex in 19th century literature, if you know where to look for it; to get a proper appreciation, you have to learn to read between the lines - or to understand the euphemisms.

Marriage based on sexual attraction alone was a particular target of Austen's; men made unhappy in the long term because they've valued a woman's physical attributes over the qualities of her heart and mind turn up in just about every novel. There's certainly no lack of physical attraction between Austen's heroes and heroines, but it isn't paramount in the relationship.

toukokuu 19, 2012, 11:42pm

I love that, scads of sex in 19th c lit. Ha! After all, what was humanity founded through? he he. I've always been a sorry one when it comes to reading between the lines I'm afraid. It's quite strange, considering I was basically the one-woman Montreal version of Sex and the City for the better part of my life, but there you have it.

Coming up, a handful of questions/comments.

toukokuu 20, 2012, 12:11am

Chapters XIV to XVI

Chapter XIV

beginning with: "Though Charles and Mary had remained at Lyme much longer after Mr and Mrs Musgrove's going "
ending with: "She was put down in Camden Place; and Lady Russell then drove to her own lodgings, in Rivers Street."

83. Mary on Captain Benwick: "You will not find anything very agreeable in him, I assure you, ma'am. He is one of the dullest young men that ever lived. He has walked with me, sometimes, from one end of the sands to the other, without saying a word. He is not at all a well-bred young man. I am sure you will not like him."

My one and only comment on this chapter is that Mary is insufferable! Also, I didn't remember the fact that she was younger than Anne before and thought her older instead.

Chapter XV

beginning with: "Sir Walter had taken a very good house in Camden Place"
ending with: "Anne could not have supposed it possible that her first evening in Camden Place could have passed so well!"

84. "They had not a fault to find in him. He had explained away all the appearance of neglect on his own side. It had originated in misapprehension entirely. He had never had an idea of throwing himself off; he had feared that he was thrown off, but knew not why, and delicacy had kept him silent. Upon the hint of having spoken disrespectfully or carelessly of the family and the family honours, he was quite indignant. He, who had ever boasted of being an Elliot, and whose feelings, as to connection, were only too strict to suit the unfeudal tone of the present day. He was astonished, indeed, but his character and general conduct must refute it. He could refer Sir Walter to all who knew him; and certainly, the pains he had been taking on this, the first opportunity of reconciliation, to be restored to the footing of a relation and heir-presumptive, was a strong proof of his opinions on the subject."

I love this passage. Such hypocrisy! It's all too obvious Mr Elliot is after something. I can't wait to find out what it is! Must say I'm surprised that Anne is taken in by him. I thought her more clever than that.

85. "must lament his being very much under-hung, a defect which time seemed to have increased"

Now I know, or am pretty sure anyway, that this is not the antonym of another expression, as funny as that would be! Please explain?

Chapter XVI

beginning with: "There was one point which Anne, on returning to her family, would have been more thankful to ascertain"
ending with: "his wishing to promote her father's getting great acquaintance was more than excusable in the view of defeating her."

86. "I should recommend Gowland, the constant use of Gowland, during the spring months. Mrs Clay has been using it at my recommendation, and you see what it has done for her. You see how it has carried away her freckles."

What is Gowland? I love the following comment that her freckles didn't seem at all lessened to Anne!

87. "He gave her to understand that he had looked at her with some earnestness. She knew it well; and she remembered another person's look also."

Is the other person Capt Wentworth?

88. "She had hoped better things from their high ideas of their own situation in life, and was reduced to form a wish which she had never foreseen; a wish that they had more pride; for "our cousins Lady Dalrymple and Miss Carteret;" "our cousins, the Dalrymples," sounded in her ears all day long."

Delightful! Ha!

89. "Neither Lady Russell nor Mr Elliot could admire the letter; but it did all that was wanted"

I'm guessing sir Walter isn't all that accomplished in the epistolary arts?

That's it for today. In fact, I may only be back tomorrow for a quick visit since I have a guest coming to spend the afternoon and evening with me. I've invited my best friend over for a birthday dinner (hers) and have quite a few preparations to take care of.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 20, 2012, 1:18am

83. Anne has Overlooked Middle Child Syndrome. :)

84. I don't know that she's taken in - she's puzzled, and a bit suspicious - but perhaps is a little swayed by his obvious admiration of her (she hasn't had enough flattery in her life to be unaffected by it).

But--- did not surprise her, therefore, that Lady Russell should see nothing suspicious or inconsistent, nothing to require more motives than appeared, in Mr Elliot's great desire of a reconciliation...

Meaning she does see those things. She's still cautious.

85. Heh! No, it doesn't. It means he has an under-bite.

86. Ah, Gowland! - or to give it its correct title, "Mrs Vincent Gowland's Lotion". This was a real beauty product of the time, and was advertised as a treatment for skin imperfections of all kinds. A contemporary ad declared, Eruptive humours fly before its power, Pimples and freckles die within an hour.

In fact, like many cosmetics at the time, it had lead and mercury in it!! Fortunately, it was promoted as being only for occasional use.

87. She's remembering that Captain Wentworth noticed Captain Elliot looking at her admiringly.

88. Be careful what you pray for! :)

89. We can infer that Sir Walter overdoes his letter-writing as he overdoes everything else. Probably he's sucking up rather embarrassingly.

toukokuu 21, 2012, 10:51pm

Love the Gowland Lotion jingle!

Onto Chapters XVII & XVIII

Chapter XVII

90. "Anne had reason to believe that she had moments only of languor and depression, to hours of occupation and enjoyment. How could it be? She watched, observed, reflected, and finally determined that this was not a case of fortitude or of resignation only. A submissive spirit might be patient, a strong understanding would supply resolution, but here was something more; here was that elasticity of mind, that disposition to be comforted, that power of turning readily from evil to good, and of finding employment which carried her out of herself, which was from nature alone. It was the choicest gift of Heaven"

A lucky woman indeed. I do so often wish that nature had granted me such a gift, but it wasn't to be. I do hate however that people who are gifted that way take for granted that their outlook on life is easily accessible to all and that's it's only a matter of "making the right effort".

91. "Hers is a line for seeing human nature; and she has a fund of good sense and observation, which, as a companion, make her infinitely superior to thousands of those who having only received 'the best education in the world,' know nothing worth attending to. Call it gossip, if you will, but when Nurse Rooke has half an hour's leisure to bestow on me, she is sure to have something to relate that is entertaining and profitable: something that makes one know one's species better. One likes to hear what is going on, to be au fait as to the newest modes of being trifling and silly. To me, who live so much alone, her conversation, I assure you, is a treat."

I love Mrs Smith's take on gossip. She makes it sound like a basic necessity!

92. "Anne, far from wishing to cavil at the pleasure, replied, "I can easily believe it..."

What does this expression mean?

93. "She saw that there had been bad habits; that Sunday travelling had been a common thing"

I take it Sunday traveling was frowned upon? Why? Because of it being the day of the Sabbath?

Chapter XVII

94. "My dear Anne,--I make no apology for my silence, because I know how little people think of letters in such a place as Bath. You must be a great deal too happy to care for Uppercross, which, as you well know, affords little to write about."

Is Mary merely being contrary here?

I love when Austen includes letters in the narrative. Are her own real life letters as interesting and amusing to read?

95. "Captain Benwick and Louisa Musgrove! The high-spirited, joyous-talking Louisa Musgrove, and the dejected, thinking, feeling, reading, Captain Benwick, seemed each of them everything that would not suit the other. Their minds most dissimilar! Where could have been the attraction? The answer soon presented itself. It had been in situation."

Always these convenient sudden unlikely pairings to rescue the heroine! I do find that aspect of her storytelling hard to take seriously. Or are we meant to take it as comedy?

That's all for now!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 22, 2012, 12:52am

90. Yes, I agree; it's a gift rather than an acquirement.

91. You mean it isn't?? :)

The sliding scale of human communication is interesting to contemplate - when does talk become gossip? Must gossip be malicious?

92. To cavil is to raise objections, often with a sense of moral judgement.

93. Yes - throughout the 19th century, particularly after the coming of the railways, there was an increasing tension between the religious standpoint which demanded Sunday as a day of rest and the business imperative, in an increasingly commercially-focused nation, of people simply needing to Pont A to Point B - the problem being not just that people were travelling, but that in order for this to happen, other people had to work. (And therefore not attend church.) Generally, as a compromise, on Sundays there would be fewer train services, and sometimes carriages weren't for hire, etc.

Travelling for pleasure rather than business was even more frowned upon. To say that there had been bad habits; that Sunday travelling had been a common thing is a suggestion of general, unacceptable irreligion. Austen's good characters don't make a parade of their faith and their church-going, but a quiet comment like this lets us know that these things were important.

94. Letter-writing and receiving in the 19th century was another hugely important and complex issue. Always remember that this was not only the main form of communication, but the way in which relationships were maintained over time and distance. (The estrangement between the Elliots and the Dalrymples came about, you recall, because of a failure to send "a letter of condolence".)

However, it was a fact that the responsibility for maintaining these connections usually fell on one person in a household - usually a woman, because of course she'd have nothing better to do with her time - and it could be a major imposition.

Some people enjoyed their correspondence, but for others writing a letter was just what you did if you couldn't get out of it - while a letter received was good enough if no better form of entertainment offered. As usual, here we have Mary imposing her own point of view on everyone else: she's actually saying that if she were in a socially active place like Bath, she wouldn't be wasting time on letters. More to the point, she's excusing her failure to write to her family (as is her duty as the woman of her household) by saying, "Oh, well, you're all having too good a time to care about anything I have to say."

Austen's own letters need to be taken with a grain of salt - her family destroyed a lot of her correspondence because her letters revealed sides to her character that didn't suit the image of her they carefully built up for public consumption. ("Sweet Aunt Jane.") But what remains is still entertaining and very informative about the times she was living in.

If you enjoy letters in literature, you should try reading Anthony Trollope - he was the absolute master of that kind of writing, and his novels are stuffed with his characters' letters.

95. Yes and no. There's certainly an aspect of comedy to it (and don't forget the old definition of the difference between a tragedy and a comedy: one ends with a death, the other with a marriage), but that's not to say it's unrealistic. These seemingly abrupt pairings did happen at the time. Ideas on marriage were very different. It wasn't necessarily a matter of waiting for the right person, but of grabbing at what you could get and holding it tight. Girls were taught from a young age not to let an opportunity slip, because they might not get another. (Austen's novels usually include an examination of the consequences of this attitude.)

While we don't necessarily see Louisa and Benwick in that light, marriages very often were "situational", as Anne concludes here: cousins married, neighbours married, members of lengthy house-parties married. To this we add the fact, as Admiral Croft remarks several times, that naval men had limited time on land and had to "strike while the iron was hot" (as he and Wentworth both did, remember). Here we have two attractive young people thrown together, one of them at least lonely and susceptible; it isn't that remarkable.

In this particular case, too, we've been seeing everything up until now through Anne's warped and over-sensitive perspective: she naturally assumes that Louisa must have been in love with Wentworth. She also assumes that Wentworth must be hurt by this outcome.

And you know what they say: when we assume... :)

toukokuu 22, 2012, 10:22pm

91. It's funny about gossip: everyone enjoys it, some more than others, but it always has a taint of something improper to it, doesn't it? I don't know for sure where I learned this, but I suspect in Israel with the youth groups when I was a child, where I do remember us having a heavy-duty session about how destructive gossip could be to group unity. Something like that. All I know is, I enjoy gossip sessions as much as anyone else, but no matter how innocent it is, I've always felt it was wrong somehow to indulge in it. Nowadays for kids it's just a way of life isn't it? That being said, I suspect gossip has always taken place throughout history. Part of human nature probably.

93. Interesting observation about Austen's quiet comment about the good churchgoing people. Now I think of it, other than clergymen being mentioned here and there, more as a means of living than out of faith and conviction, religion really isn't mentioned in her novels, is it? I hadn't picked up on that because I'm not religious myself, but then again, I guess this is pretty normal. Most novels of the time assume everyone knows that people are being properly devout, unless they aren't, as in this case with Mr Elliot

94. Enjoyed your remarks about letter-writing. I actually grew up with letter-writing as a main form of communication. When I lived in Israel especially and was separated from my mom for a whole year, that's how we stayed in touch, so I do and can appreciate the importance of it. It's a habit I keep meaning to get back into, but when instant communication is so readily available, it seems like lots of work making the effort to sit down to write a letter, doesn't it? I suspect this is why now and in those days too, some people really saw it as a chore more than anything else.

I haven't read Trollope yet, though I did pick up an audio version of The Warden fairly recently. From what you know about my reading tasted (very varied), do you think I'm likely to enjoy The Chronicles of Barsetshire?

95. I don't remember this "rule" about tragedy and comedy ending in death and marriage respectively. When did that definition come into use and through what period?

Next up: exactly three, count them... THREE comments (including one tiny question) on Chapters XIX and XX

toukokuu 22, 2012, 10:35pm

Chapter XIX

"There could be no doubt as to Miss Elliot. Whoever suffered inconvenience, she must suffer none, but it occupied a little time to settle the point of civility between the other two. The rain was a mere trifle, and Anne was most sincere in preferring a walk with Mr Elliot. But the rain was also a mere trifle to Mrs Clay; she would hardly allow it even to drop at all, and her boots were so thick! much thicker than Miss Anne's; and, in short, her civility rendered her quite as anxious to be left to walk with Mr Elliot as Anne could be, and it was discussed between them with a generosity so polite and so determined, that the others were obliged to settle it for them"

It's always funny when this happens. Two people trying so hard to be polite and generous that it essentially causes a disagreement!

Chapter XX

"She could not do so, without comparing herself with Miss Larolles, the inimitable Miss Larolles"

Is this a character from a poem again?

98. "It was misery to think of Mr Elliot's attentions. Their evil was incalculable."

Since it's a foregone conclusion that Anne and Wentworth will end up "happily ever after", I'm actually more interested to find out Mr Elliot's motives!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 22, 2012, 11:07pm

91. I think, in the context of this novel (and 19th century literature generally), that we need to keep in mind that gossip could do real damage at a time when a woman's reputation was very easily marred. This comes back to the points we've touched on earlier, about marriage being such a serious goal, and also the surplus of women: men could pick and choose, and why choose a girl who had done something to give rise to gossip when you could choose one who hadn't?

Of course, this implies that the girl had done something, which might not necessarily have been the case. A little careless talk could have serious consequences.

93. Not so much at this time, but later in the century there was a rise in novels that were overtly about religion and religious themes. (Not surprisingly, a lot of them read more like tracts!) Some novelists did use themes of faith and doubt and duty. For others, including Austen, someone's faith, and church-going, was taken for granted as a part of normal life and not usually highlighted or dwelt upon - except, as you say, if something was wrong.

94. It's a given that's it's more fun to receive a letter (or an email, or a thread post) than to write one! :)

Trollope is a slightly difficult case. On one hand his novels are marvellously realistic pictures of Victorian life, and full of sharp observation and (often, not always) humour - but on the other, his two most successful and famous series of novels, the Barchester series and the Palliser series, do require some specialised knowledge in order to be fully appreciated - not religion so much as the functioning of the Anglican church in the former, and contemporary politics in the latter. Modern readers do struggle with those aspects of his writing, although the bulk of his stories are comedies or dramas about ordinary life.

Ahem. Of course, I'd be happy to tutor you, if you were interested. :)

(Actually---I think I was discussing that possibility with Heather at some point.)

People do tend to find The Warden a bit of a struggle in this respect, but I believe it's better to start there anyway, if you have any idea of progressing with the Barchester books, because it does lay the groundwork for a lot of what follows. (People appreciate The Warden more after they've read the other books, I find.)

95. Appropriately enough, it's Byron again, from Don Juan:

All tragedies are finished by a death,
All comedies are ended by a marriage;
The future states of both are left to faith,
For authors fear description might disparage
The worlds to come of both, or fall beneath,
And then both worlds would punish their miscarriage;
So leaving each their priest and prayer-book ready,
They say no more of Death or of the Lady.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 22, 2012, 11:14pm

96. My particular bug-bear is when people are trying so hard to be nice, they won't take 'no' for an answer!

97. No, Miss Larolles is a character in Frances Burney's novel Cecilia - one of Austen's favourites; she got the title "Pride And Prejudice" from it - who used to do exactly what Anne finds herself doing: fighting for a seat at the end of the bench so she can ambush unwary men. (The particular man she's after manages to elude her, though!)

98. Ah...!

toukokuu 23, 2012, 11:26pm

I listened to both chapters XXI and XXII today, so here goes:

Chapter XXI

"How she might have felt had there been no Captain Wentworth in the case, was not worth enquiry"

Of course, having read on, I know much more about Mr Elliot now, but I do wonder how she would have felt about him before her interview with Mrs Smith...

100. "Indeed! Then do tell me what he was at that time of life. I have a great curiosity to know what Mr Elliot was as a very young man. Was he at all such as he appears now?"

AHA! Finally!!! :-)

101. "To be sure I did; very often. I used to boast of my own Anne Elliot, and vouch for your being a very different creature from--"

Does she mean "from Elizabeth"?

Oh yes, which reminds me... a question I've been meaning to ask for the longest time. You explained to us how the title "Mr" refers to the eldest son. Is it the same case in the case of "Miss", i.e. that it refers to the eldest daughter?

102. "But was not she a very low woman?"

"Yes; which I objected to, but he would not regard. Money, money, was all that he wanted. Her father was a grazier, her grandfather had been a butcher, but that was all nothing."

By "low woman", I assume she means that she is from the working classes?

What is a grazier?

103. "and dated from London, as far back as July, 1803"

What date is the present action meant to be taking place in?

104. "but my first visit to Kellynch will be with a surveyor, to tell me how to bring it with best advantage to the hammer."

Does that mean he intended to sell Kellynch at auction?

Chapter XXII

"Indeed, I do say it. I never saw anybody in my life spell harder for an invitation."

What does this mean?

106. "Morning visits are never fair by women at her time of life, who make themselves up so little. If she would only wear rouge she would not be afraid of being seen; but last time I called, I observed the blinds were let down immediately."

I thought it was considered in bad taste for decent women to wear makeup in those days?

Does she really let down the blinds out of vanity or for some other reason?

107. "in her station at a window overlooking the entrance to the Pump Room"

What is the Pump room?

108. "No, I did not promise. I only smirked and bowed, and said the word 'happy.' There was no promise."

This sentence alone is worth reading the whole novel for! :-D

Looks like I'll need your services again to read Trollope eventually, doesn't it? ;-)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 24, 2012, 2:06am

99. Caring for Person A is usually the best defence against the wiles of Person B. However, Anne never really lost her suspicions of Mr Elliot - not her preference for Wentworth, even before his return. As it says at the beginning, No one had ever come within the Kellynch circle, who coud bear a comparison with Frederick Wentworth, as he stood in her memory.

Lots of novels of this time deal with girls being pressured into marriage with someone rich and/or titled when they care for someone less suitable. We know that Anne was never in real danger here, but in Mansfield Park this is a major plot element.

100. :)

101. Yes, she stopped herself being rude about Elizabeth to Elizabeth's sister (not acceptable, however justified).

Yes, amongst the second generation the eldest daughter was just Miss Whoever, while any younger daughters were Miss First Name - so originally the three girls here would have been Miss Elliot, Miss Anne Elliot and Miss Mary Elliot. It worked the same way with boys, except if the head of the household was also just Mr Whoever, in which case the eldest boy might have his first name used, or be called "the younger Mr Whoever". ("Junior" wasn't generally used in Britain as it is/was in the US.)

102. Probably she was connected with one of the less acceptable forms of trade (there were different degrees in all things); a tradesman's daughter would be more likely to inherit a fortune.

A grazier is a farmer who works with livestock rather than crops.

103. We're presently about November 1814.

104. Yep!

105. To angle for an invitation. Mrs Clay is insisting that Mr Elliot kept hinting he would like to be invited to call in the evening.

106. It was (although some did): but to Sir Walter, wearing make-up is preferable to being old or ugly. (And Lady Russell must be forty-five if she's a day!!)

Women did of course do things like sitting with their backs to the light, or letting down the blinds, or using pink lampshades, to disguise imperfections in their appearance, but whether Lady Russell did any such thing for any such reason, we can't tell - this is just Sir Walter's interpretation.

107. We mentioned this in Northanger Abbey: Bath was a city built around a spring of waters that were considered medicinal. There was a building that was constructed around a pump connected to the spring, where visitors could walk and meet and read the newspapers and drink a glass of the waters - this was the Pump Room.

108. HA!! :)

toukokuu 23, 2012, 11:59pm

Looks like I'll need your services again to read Trollope eventually, doesn't it? ;-)

Whee!!!! {claps hands excitedly}

toukokuu 24, 2012, 12:00am

Here's something to consider, in respect of the themes of this novel, and 19th century literature generally:

"Such excellent parents as Mr and Mrs Musgrove," exclaimed Anne, "should be happy in their children's marriages. They do everything to confer happiness, I am sure. What a blessing to young people to be in such hands! Your father and mother seem so totally free from all those ambitious feelings which have led to so much misconduct and misery, both in young and old!"

Quietly radical...

toukokuu 24, 2012, 2:57am

#119 "Actually---I think I was discussing that possibility with Heather at some point." - We were - I'm still interested :-)

toukokuu 24, 2012, 6:43am

Whee!! Whee!!

{claps hands excitedly and jumps up and down}

toukokuu 24, 2012, 9:29am

I might be interested in the Trollope as well--I've never read any of his books.

toukokuu 25, 2012, 11:02pm

Hi hi, just checking in for now. It's bedtime for me, so I'll put off my questions/comments on the final two chapters till tomorrow. Finished the novel today and it proved to be the perfect treatment for a violent migraine. Had to lie down and keep eyes closed, so Juliet Stevenson's sweetly rich voice telling me all about the fortuitous pairing which was a foregone conclusion proved to be indeed a most cozy reading situation.

I'm on to Anya Seton's Katherine and am already a third of the novel into it. It had been on my Amazon wishlist for nearly five years and I'd somehow forgotten all about it until Suzanne reminded me about this author, and lucky for me this novel had just been released on audio last year, read by another great narrator, Wanda McCaddon this time. I keep having the instinct to place bookmarks and asking questions as I listen along, but then remember I'm on my own with this one! All the same, I'm managing just fine, especially as I happen to be listening to the episode of This Sceptred Isle which covers the Black Prince to Henry VIII. It was meant as a preparation to Wolf Hall in June with Suz tutoring this time, but it's proving a perfect accompaniment for Katherine as well!

Looks like there are already a few takers on the Trollope. I'll be happy to lurk on the tutoring thread when time comes, unless nobody offers themselves up as a tutee in which case I'll just have to sacrifice myself once again... it''s a worthy cause and you're a most pleasant tutor Liz, as I hope I've already told you more than once!

toukokuu 26, 2012, 12:45am

Well done, Ilana!!

I have some closing comments to make about Persuasion, but I will hold off until we have addressed your final questions.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 26, 2012, 9:03pm

Here are my final questions and comments Liz:

Chapter XXIII

"and so we thought they had better marry at once, and make the best of it, as many others have done before them. At any rate, said I, it will be better than a long engagement."

"That is precisely what I was going to observe," cried Mrs Croft. "I would rather have young people settle on a small income at once, and have to struggle with a few difficulties together, than be involved in a long engagement. I always think that no mutual--"

"Oh! dear Mrs Croft," cried Mrs Musgrove, unable to let her finish her speech, "there is nothing I so abominate for young people as a long engagement. It is what I always protested against for my children. It is all very well, I used to say, for young people to be engaged, if there is a certainty of their being able to marry in six months, or even in twelve; but a long engagement--"

I thought this exchange was pretty funny, with Mrs Croft and Musgrove trying to outspeak each other. Is this meant for comical effect only, or is JA preparing the ground for what will undoubtedly NOT be a long engagement?

110. "Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything."?

That sounds an awful lot like a feminist talking here!

111. "Such a letter was not to be soon recovered from.

No kidding! It had me quite in a state too!

112. ""I found," said he, "that I was considered by Harville an engaged man! That neither Harville nor his wife entertained a doubt of our mutual attachment. I was startled and shocked. To a degree, I could contradict this instantly; but, when I began to reflect that others might have felt the same--her own family, nay, perhaps herself--I was no longer at my own disposal. I was hers in honour if she wished it. "

Would he really have married her just because of other people perceiving they were engaged? And if so, I imagine it's to do with preserving a woman's honour again and not letting her suffer the consequences of idle talk?

113. "I have been thinking over the past, and trying impartially to judge of the right and wrong, I mean with regard to myself; and I must believe that I was right, much as I suffered from it, that I was perfectly right in being guided by the friend whom you will love better than you do now. To me, she was in the place of a parent. Do not mistake me, however. I am not saying that she did not err in her advice. It was, perhaps, one of those cases in which advice is good or bad only as the event decides; and for myself, I certainly never should, in any circumstance of tolerable similarity, give such advice. But I mean, that I was right in submitting to her, and that if I had done otherwise, I should have suffered more in continuing the engagement than I did even in giving it up, because I should have suffered in my conscience. I have now, as far as such a sentiment is allowable in human nature, nothing to reproach myself with; and if I mistake not, a strong sense of duty is no bad part of a woman's portion."

We're back to what your were explaining in the beginning, that she did the right thing in breaking off her engagement to him according to the conventions of the time.

Chapter XXIV

"Who can be in doubt of what followed? When any two young people take it into their heads to marry, they are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point, be they ever so poor, or ever so imprudent, or ever so little likely to be necessary to each other's ultimate comfort. This may be bad morality to conclude with"

Where is the bad morality here?

115. We can't expect Mary to change anytime soon!

"Of all the family, Mary was probably the one most immediately gratified by the circumstance. It was creditable to have a sister married, and she might flatter herself with having been greatly instrumental to the connexion, by keeping Anne with her in the autumn; and as her own sister must be better than her husband's sisters, it was very agreeable that Captain Wentworth should be a richer man than either Captain Benwick or Charles Hayter. She had something to suffer, perhaps, when they came into contact again, in seeing Anne restored to the rights of seniority, and the mistress of a very pretty landaulette; but she had a future to look forward to, of powerful consolation. Anne had no Uppercross Hall before her, no landed estate, no headship of a family; and if they could but keep Captain Wentworth from being made a baronet, she would not change situations with Anne."

What is a landaulette? How can they keep him from that title?

116. "It would be well for the eldest sister if she were equally satisfied with her situation, for a change is not very probable there. She had soon the mortification of seeing Mr Elliot withdraw, and no one of proper condition has since presented himself to raise even the unfounded hopes which sunk with him."

I hope we're not meant to feel sorry for Elizabeth, because I certainly don't!

117. "Mrs Clay's affections had overpowered her interest, and she had sacrificed, for the young man's sake, the possibility of scheming longer for Sir Walter. She has abilities, however, as well as affections; and it is now a doubtful point whether his cunning, or hers, may finally carry the day; whether, after preventing her from being the wife of Sir Walter, he may not be wheedled and caressed at last into making her the wife of Sir William."

Is this one of the subplots that wasn't quite as developed as it should have been? Because I fell I'm missing something to understand what they saw in each other and how this pairing could possibly benefit them.

118. "It cannot be doubted that Sir Walter and Elizabeth were shocked and mortified by the loss of their companion, and the discovery of their deception in her. They had their great cousins, to be sure, to resort to for comfort; but they must long feel that to flatter and follow others, without being flattered and followed in turn, is but a state of half enjoyment."

Wonderful. Serves them right! :-)

119. "She gloried in being a sailor's wife, but she must pay the tax of quick alarm for belonging to that profession which is, if possible, more distinguished in its domestic virtues than in its national importance."

Please explain this part? It was a confusing last sentence and I was hoping the novel wouldn't end on it because I didn't get those last words!

Looking forward to your answers and final comments!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 27, 2012, 6:39pm

Before I answer your questions (which make a great lead-in for this, thank you!), I just want to say that I think the most significant aspect of Persuasion is its support for what were still quite new ideas about the right way to live: in the first place, the idea of marriage being about emotional fulfiilment and companionship, rather than material security; and secondly, the idea that parents had a responsibility towards their children, and for their children's happiness, rather than it being a one-way matter of obedience and submission by the children.

As always, too, with Austen, it is a story of a young woman seeking and finding balance between her own needs, and the demands that society made upon her. Even that is slightly radical, because for a long, long time (and I'm not sure we're over it even yet), the prevailing convention was that a woman's primary duty was to devote herself to the happiness of others, even at the expense of her own. The notion that a woman had any right to put her foot down and insist upon a life of her own choosing and for her own happiness was also fairly new.


109. The novel has some fun with Mrs Musgrove, but it also makes it quite clear that she is, with Mrs Croft, firmly on the side of right, and would far rather that her children were happy than rich. (Of course, she'd probably prefer that they were happy AND rich, but if she had to choose...) Long engagements at this time were generally to do with the fact that people could not afford to get married - but there were a wide variety of opinions on what yearly income was "enough". (You might remember the conversation in Sense And Sensibility, about Elinor's "fortune" and Marianne's "competence".) The fact that both Mrs Croft and Mrs Musgrove, each in her own way, advocates a short engagement and a few years of short rations rather than an indefinte engagement based on the future hope of more money indicates to us that this is Austen's opinion, too.

It should also be kept in mind that there are many, many real-life stories from this period of couples being engaged for years, and one of them dying before the marriage could take place. Life was terribly uncertain (and Austen uses the word "uncertain" quite frequently), and some people as a consequence believed very strongly in carpe diem.

110. Doesn't it?? :)

Think, too, of Catherine in Northanger Abbey, complaining about having to study history when there are "hardly any women" in it.

111. Ah, 19th century novels and their letters - God love 'em!

112. I thought of touching upon this aspect of the situation when we were discussing gossip, but it might have been too spoiler-iffic.

About the only instances where men - or at least, gentlemen - at this time did not have everything their own way were (i) a gentleman could not (except in extreme circumstances) break off an engagement; only the woman could do that, and (ii) if a man did anything to damage a woman's reputation, including giving rise to gossip about her, he was compelled in honour to "make reparation" by marrying her.

It didn't take much for a woman to be considered "un-marriageable" - which in the society of the day could mean her life was irreparably ruined. Here, Wentworth is so distracted by being near Anne again, and all the old memories and hurts welling up, that he is careless about his behaviour towards Louisa. It's enough to start people talking, and assuming that there will be a marriage - which is enough to mean that Wentworth is technically obliged to offer it.

but, when I began to reflect that others might have felt the same--her own family, nay, perhaps herself--I was no longer at my own disposal.

Of course, he is delivered from this necessity by Louisa's engagement to Benwick. This seems arbitrary, but we need to keep in mind that we don't ever know what Louisa is thinking and feeling. She might simply be flattered by Wentworth's attentions, without ever thinking seriously about him. We only ever see the situation from the outside, through the assumptions of other people - including Anne, who of course thinks the worst.

(We should not overlook the irony - or the poetic justice - of Wentworth suffering in exactly the way that Anne did while watching him with Louisa, when he watches her with Mr Elliot. Nor that the word "persuaded" is repeatedly used in this context - Wentworth is persuaded that Anne is interested in Mr Elliot.)

113. Yes, that's very clear summation of the situation. Although perhaps we doubt that Anne would in fact have suffered more in continuing the engagement than I did even in giving it up. :)

114. This passage might be construed as enlightening "young people" (i.e. readers) to the fact that by defying their parents and being obstinate - as opposed to being dutiful and submissive - they will probably get their own way in the long run. (Although there is a suggestion here that parents do sometimes know better!)

they are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point, be they ever so poor, or ever so imprudent

In addition, we are just emerging here from the extremely commercial and self-interested 18th century, when "prudence" (patricularly financial prudence) was everything. Another hint that the times are a-changing.

115. I'm actually fond of Mary, in a sick sort of way. She's certainly consistent!

A landaulette is a four-wheeled carriage with a roof that could be raised or lowered. Mary is mourning the fact that Anne now has a better carriage than she does (another instance of a carriage reflecting someone's social standing and wealth).

They can't, of course! That's just Mary trying to look on the bright side (and keep Anne in an "inferior" situation, not that she cares!).

116. No, we're really not!

117. Yes, it is - and I have quite a lot more to say on this subject, which I'll put in a separate post.

118. :)

119. Ah, that is Austen's typically oblique way of letting us know exactly how happy Anne is in her marriage.

The British navy, as we have seen, was a dominant international force, and of supreme national importance at this time, thanks to its officers, or so it is suggested in this novel. But (says Austen) wonderful as naval officers are at their job, they're even better at being husbands. :)

However, Anne is now a "military wife", and Wentworth is still on active duty, so it's not all smooth sailing (so to speak). Hence her quick alarm, which is the price she pays - her tax - for her domestic happiness.

toukokuu 26, 2012, 11:27pm

We spoke at the outset about the very difficult conditions under which Persuasion was written, that Austen was very ill, in fact dying, when she wrote it; and that as a consequence there are some flaws in the novel that we can assume wouldn't be there is she'd had the time or the strength to work on it longer.

Hence the subplot of Mr Elliot, and the relationship between him and Mrs Clay, is too abruptly rendered.


If we compare the handling of this subplot to Austen's handling of the secret engagement betweem Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax in Emma, we can see both how she could do this sort of thing, and how the subplot in Persuasion falls short. Emma has been called "the first detective novel", on account of how skilfully Austen scatters her clues, and how cleverly she distracts the reader from noticing them; this is one of the reasons Emma rewards re-reading.


Probably Austen had something comparable in mind when she was working on Persuasion, but she didn't get the chance to write and re-write as we know she used to do, to integrate her subplot more thoroughly into the workings of her novel. As it stands, both the reveal of Mr Elliot's true character, and of the relationship between Mr Elliot and Mrs Clay, being too abrupt. It still works, but it's not as smooth or as skilful as we expect from Austen.

To return to your specific question:

117. There are clues that something is going on between Mr Elliot and Mrs Clay - you quoted one of them yourself! :)

"There could be no doubt as to Miss Elliot. Whoever suffered inconvenience, she must suffer none, but it occupied a little time to settle the point of civility between the other two. The rain was a mere trifle, and Anne was most sincere in preferring a walk with Mr Elliot. But the rain was also a mere trifle to Mrs Clay; she would hardly allow it even to drop at all, and her boots were so thick! much thicker than Miss Anne's; and, in short, her civility rendered her quite as anxious to be left to walk with Mr Elliot as Anne could be, and it was discussed between them with a generosity so polite and so determined, that the others were obliged to settle it for them"

And there's the other bit when Mr Elliot is spotted in Bath when he's supposed to be away. Austen distracts us by turning it into another uncomfortable Anne / Wentworth moment, when he thinks she's too interested in Mr Elliot's whereabouts, but in retrospect we can see that Mr Elliot is up to something.

As far as the actual denouement goes, with Mrs Clay giving up her scheme to be Sir Walter's second wife and becoming Mr Elliot's mistress instead, this is one example of that scads of 19th century sex I was telling you about. Austen is forced to be discrete here, but when she says that Mrs Clay's affections had overpowered her interest, what she means is that Mrs Clay has a serious case of hot-pants for Mr Elliot, so bad that she throws away her chance at marriage and security for s-e-x. Having taken this false step, she can only then try to "wheedle" Mr Elliot into marrying her (which might be a euphemism for trapping him via pregnancy), but given what we know of Mr Elliot - we know a lot more than Mrs Clay does - we don't fancy her chances.

toukokuu 26, 2012, 11:46pm

And one last thing.

When Austen finished writing Persuasion, she was unhappy with the ending; so unhappy that in spite of her poor health, she couldn't let it rest.

Originally, the ending of the novel had Anne and Wentworth accidentally thrown together by Admiral Croft. Wentworth gets up the nerve to speak, and that's that.

(While I remember to mention this--- I haven't said anything earlier for not wanting to influence your reading one way or the other, but there's a lot of debate out in Austen-land over whether the Crofts are in fact ignorant of the relationship between Anne and Wentworth, and so the various jabs they give Anne by discussing his marriage and Louisa, etc., are unknowing, or whether they do know about it and are "jabbing" her intentionally, to test her feeling for him. I can't make up my mind about it...although they certainly do discuss Wentworth in front of her a lot.)


The overriding problem with the original ending, apart from it being a bit anti-climactic, is that it left Anne just a passive recipient of a bit of good timing. What Austen wanted was for Anne to play an active part in her reconciliation with Wentworth - BUT - she was of course hampered by the fact that she could not have Anne do anything so direct as confessing, or even hinting, her feelings to Wentworth. Anne isn't even comfortable with her Miss Larolles-like manoeuvring to get an opportunity to speak to him at the concert.

So what she came up with was an indirect confession: the conversation between Anne and Captain Harville, when they debate the emotional capacity of men and women, and Anne makes that remarkable speech about women's feelings - All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one, you need not covet it) is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone. This is the speech of someone who has loved, and lost, and suffered; Wentworth recognises this, and it is this, Anne's own words, that gives him the courage to speak to her...or at least to write her a letter.


toukokuu 27, 2012, 12:05am

And with that, it's time for---THE OFFICIAL FIREWORKS!!

toukokuu 27, 2012, 9:02pm

Liz, thank you so very much for this experience. Once again, you've made it possible for me to enjoy another of Jane Austen's novels in a way I surely wouldn't have had I read it on my own. Your input has been invaluable!

toukokuu 27, 2012, 9:28pm

My pleasure, Ilana! Seriously. This is what I do for fun. :)

If you do decide in the future that you would like to take another run at S&S and/or P&P, I would be very happy to help.

Otherwise, perhaps we shall meet again over a little Trollope?? So to speak.

toukokuu 27, 2012, 10:46pm

I'll definitely want to do both S&S and P&P with you sometime. Perhaps next year? I'm sure we'll find other occasions to do this again.

toukokuu 27, 2012, 10:48pm

Whenever you like - just give me a shout.

toukokuu 27, 2012, 10:53pm

I was surprised not to see any Anya Seton books in your collection. Not a fan?

toukokuu 27, 2012, 11:04pm

My reading has never gone much in that direction. I've picked up quite a lot of history from a variety of sources over the years, but never really went through an historical fiction phase.

toukokuu 27, 2012, 11:13pm

I didn't know I was a fan of historical fiction until I started keeping track of my reading here and realized I really quite enjoy that genre, but only when it's well done of course!

toukokuu 27, 2012, 11:24pm

I've been reading a bit more of it lately, actually (that's what LibraryThing will do for you!), but generally when an author who usually writes a different kind of fiction tries an historical novel - like John Buchan.

toukokuu 28, 2012, 8:30am

Thanks you two. It was very enjoyable.

As an aside, Katherine by Anya Seton received one of my few 10 out of 10 stars.

toukokuu 28, 2012, 3:25pm

Thank you for lurking!

Noted about Seton. Actually, I'm kind of surprised I haven't read Dragonwyck.

toukokuu 29, 2012, 10:25am

Thank you both for all the discussion--it was fun!

toukokuu 29, 2012, 10:35am

What Roni said -- I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion!

toukokuu 29, 2012, 2:41pm

Liz, not quite true you don't read historical fiction... what about Georgette Heyer??

I'm glad to know this thread was a good read for others too and hope it'll benefit future Persuasion readers.

toukokuu 29, 2012, 3:06pm

I've enjoyed following this thread very much too - thank you, both of you!

I look forward to following a future Trollope read.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 29, 2012, 4:07pm

Thank you all - I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Genny, I hope you get your wish - we'll see. :)

Georgette Heyer is an exception to two rules, as I don't normally read historical fiction or romances.

I tend to distinguish between historical fiction, which focuses on real people and real events, and historical romance, which uses another time mostly as a setting. Georgette wrote both, of course (and preferred her "fiction", but her "romances" sold better - typical!)

toukokuu 29, 2012, 11:49pm

#148 Genny, the pleasure was mine and I find it rewarding that others benefited from this thread.

#149 Liz, I'd be curious if you could point out which of Georgette Heyer's novels you consider to be "fiction" and which are in the "romance" category, since I'm a newbie to her. I've got Frederica to get a taste for her writing... which camp would that fall into?

toukokuu 30, 2012, 6:24am

Frederica is a romance - though in saying that, nearly all of Heyer's romances are social comedies, too.

Heyer wrote many more romances than historical fictions, much to her regret - historical writing was her real love. However, even her romances are extremely historically accurate.

Her historical fictions are of different kinds. They are are sometimes about real people and real events (like The Conqueror, about William the Conqueror), and sometimes they place a fictional main character in the middle of real events (like Beauvallet). Sometimes they are a fictionalised episode in the life of a real person (like Royal Escape).

An Infamous Army is an interesting case because it is predominantly a romance, yet it contains what is widely regarded as one of the most accurate accounts ever written of the Battle of Waterloo.

The Conqueror is probably the only "pure" historical fiction, although perhaps The Spanish Bride, too (real people, Napoleonic Wars). My Lord John would have been, but Heyer died before she finished it.

toukokuu 30, 2012, 11:44am

Hello Everyone, Anita Kemp here. I have been lurking too. This tutoring has made me realize how many things I skip over in reading for the story. Liz, I really appreciated your explanations of the British Navy ranks, and so many other things.
I also had a great appreciation Ilana's questions. You have opened my eyes.

toukokuu 30, 2012, 3:24pm

I'm arriving a bit late to the celebration, but Ilana and Liz, thank you! This was really good, and fun, too.

toukokuu 30, 2012, 3:55pm

Hi, Anita! I'm glad you finally de-lurked. Yes, Ilana certainly had no reason to worry she wouldn't ask the "right" questions.

Hi, Joe! Thank you for following along with us - the more lurkers, the merrier!

kesäkuu 1, 2012, 11:12am

I definitely found that reading with a tutor was a whole different experience. It made me slow down and focus on the details a lot more than I would have otherwise. Normally, I just shrug and move on when something doesn't make sense to me, but it was great having the opportunity to ask about what might have seemed like minor details, especially when they ended up leading to really interesting responses. It's an incredible treat being able to discuss a book that thoroughly in a way that even group reads or book clubs wouldn't normally enable.

I'm starting all over again this month with Wolf Hall tutored by Suzanne (Chatterbox) this time. The thread is over here:

kesäkuu 1, 2012, 11:16am

Welcome to the tutored read club, Ilana! I had no idea, upon starting this adventure with Liz, that I'd miss it when I wasn't actively involved in being a tutee. Isn't the experience of this just lovely?

kesäkuu 1, 2012, 3:36pm

Liz and Ilana, thank you so much for a wonderful experience! I really LOVED Persuasion, and am so happy that I got to share this experience with you. And I learned A LOT!!

kesäkuu 1, 2012, 3:43pm

Thanks for the Wolf Hall thread link, Ilana. I enjoy the tutored reads. I read Wolf Hall, but don't know a lot about the underlying history, so I'm sure the thread will be rewarding.

kesäkuu 1, 2012, 6:50pm

>>#157 Thanks, Mamie - very glad you enjoyed it!

helmikuu 17, 6:47pm

Thanks to Liz for helping me resurface this thread as I embark on my own read of Persuasion.

helmikuu 17, 8:37pm

I'm delighted you're reading it, hope you find this thread helpful. :)