A Fine Brush on Ivory: An Appreciation of Jane Austen by Richard Jenkyns PDF

By Richard Jenkyns

ISBN-10: 0191514160

ISBN-13: 9780191514166

ISBN-10: 0199210993

ISBN-13: 9780199210992

ISBN-10: 0199276617

ISBN-13: 9780199276615

Jane Austen's paintings was once a real triumph of the comedian spirit--of deep comedy, emerging from the center of human lifestyles. In A advantageous Brush on Ivory, Richard Jenkyns takes us on an amiable travel of Austen's fictional global, starting a window on many of the nice works of worldwide literature. Focusing mostly on Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma, yet with many diverting aspect journeys to Austen's different novels, Jenkyns shines a loving gentle at the beautiful craftsmanship and profound ethical mind's eye that informs her writing. Readers will locate, for example, a superb dialogue of characterization in Austen. Jenkyns's perception into figures comparable to Mr. Bennett or Mrs. Norris is brilliant--particularly his portrait of the fun, smart, continuously ironic Mr. Bennett, whose humor (Jenkyns exhibits) arises out of a deeply unsatisfied and disappointing marriage. the writer can pay due homage to Austen's unequalled ability with complicated plotting--the good looks with which the first plot and some of the subplots are woven together--highlighting the countless care she took to make every one plot aspect as average and as believable as attainable. probably most vital, Jenkyns illuminates the center of Austen's ethical mind's eye: she is consistently conscious, all through her works, of the nearness of evil to the cozy social floor. She is familiar with that the socially appropriate sins can be actually merciless and harsh, is familiar with that society could be pink in teeth and claw, and but she permits the pleasures of comedy and occasion to subordinate them. Insightful and hugely exciting, A advantageous Brush on Ivory captures the spirit and originality of Jane Austen's paintings. it is going to be a adored souvenir or present for her many enthusiasts.

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The author has boxed herself into a corner, and her only way out is to invent a grave moral flaw which develops in the second lover, justifying Belinda in breaking the engagement. It is transparently artificial, and at odds with anything that has gone before; here is an author whose plot has escaped her control. It may look as though Jane Austen has similarly boxed herself, or perhaps her heroine, into a corner: either Emma must lose Knightley or bear the guilt of wrecking Harriet's happiness. In fact, as we all know, she is in perfect command of her story, and breaks free with the ease of a 39 THE SHAPE OF COMEDY Houdini.

This fault in the book cannot be defended either by noting that Tess's execution was the original seed from which the book grew or by observing that the crimepassionel, foolish and needless, has sometimes been a fact of life. Similarly, if Jane Austen has failed to make Wickham plausibly nasty, it is an imperfect defence to say that it is a datum of the book that his nastiness should be implausible. It is perhaps half a defence: the basic conception of Wickham is of a charming conman, and if a reader finds him feckless rather than crafty and calculating, one is tempted to reply that he has succeeded yet again in what he does so well—in 27 THE SHAPE OF COMEDY conning you.

It is no more deplorable for her not to mention Napoleon than it is for Defoe's Moll Flanders never to notice that there is a civil war on: in each case the matter is simply not pertinent to the sort of story that the author wants to tell. Jane Austen seems to provide little 'background' in her novels; but as it happens, her grounding in reality and sense of significant detail are so firm that we learn more from her about social and cultural texture and habits of life in her time—teenage girls lunching together at an inn, what a bookish young lady is likely to be reading in 1809, how naval officers dispose of themselves when peace breaks out—than we do from other novelists of the day.

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A Fine Brush on Ivory: An Appreciation of Jane Austen by Richard Jenkyns


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