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akfarrar
12-11-2006, 03:39 PM
Finished the re-read (more a first read - it is a very long time since I read Persuasion) and thought I'd make a couple of observations before I read the book's introduction and find out what I should be thinking.

Trains - after a comment by someone, I now read all 19th century novels with an eye to transport.

There are no trains - but an awful lot of talk of carriages - what a 'small' world these people live in. This transport limitation, when added to the fine distinctions of social class, makes for a most claustrophobic atmosphere - in fact it forces several of the characters to move (and marry) in circles they would otherwise not do. (Inbreeding and associated decline in genetic stock, or what?)

In the 'country' - imagine being confined to a small group of equal status, with a carriage ride, on country roads, in winter. No wonder the attractions of Bath beckon - even out of season (or especially out of season). If you have to stay in one place because of a declining fortune, which place would you stay?

And carriages seem to indicate status as much as modern sports cars - mines bigger than yours and look at the horse power! No wonder then that Mary measures her sister's success in terms of seniority regained AND a better carriage!

The second point that struck was that this is a sequel - without a pre-quel. It's - 'What happens to the old maids, left on the shelf by an earlier disappointment?'

Anne is a woman - not a girl (although treated as such because of her unmarried status).

This is not a novel of adolescent to adult: This is mature consummation.

Anne is no Jane Eyre.

Which brings in another aspect - the world is changing in this novel - all these sailors - lower-class upstarts - new money, new ideas, direct and willing to break down, just a little, social distinctions. (They even move around vast distances - unnatural or what?)

By the time Jane Eyre comes along, this revolution has spread to 'women' too! I suspect Jane would have remained a governess, if Anne had not had her little fling.

Newcomer
05-03-2007, 10:18 PM
“In the 'country' - imagine being confined to a small group of equal status, with a carriage ride, on country roads, in winter. No wonder the attractions of Bath beckon - even out of season (or especially out of season). If you have to stay in one place because of a declining fortune, which place would you stay?”
In the country definitely! Had I lived in the 19th. century, or the present. However my preference is beside the point. To appreciate Austen's view point, let's read what her characters said:

“I cannot see that London has any great advantage over the country for my part, except the shops and public places. The country is a vast deal pleasanter, is not it, Mr. Bingley?'', Mrs. Bennet, chapter 9 Pride and Prejudice.

“My mother would have had no objection, but my father hates London.'' Elizabeth, chapter 29, Pride and Prejudice.

“Lydia was occasionally a visitor there, when her husband was gone to enjoy himself in London or Bath;”, the reference has an approbation as it refers to Wickham and Lydia.

“and Anne though dreading the possible heats of September in all the white glare of Bath, and grieving to forego all the influence so sweet and so sad of the autumnal months in the country, did not think that,
everything considered, she wished to remain.” Anne, chapter 5, Persuasion.

"Ah! my poor dear child, the truth is, that in London it is always a sickly season. Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be. It is a dreadful thing to have you forced to live there! so far off!-- and the air so bad!", Mr. Woodhouse, chapter 12, Emma.

From these quotes it is apparent that Austen has a jaundiced view of the town. It must be kept in mind that Austen's world was that of the preindustrial England and the country side was not blighted by smokestacks.
Your - “ This transport limitation, when added to the fine distinctions of social class, makes for a most claustrophobic atmosphere” - I think that you are taking a very contemporary view point, ie based on the attention span of the present youth that demands novelty every minute. The young woman of Austen's era was much more self-reliant. Reading, drawing and musical performance was sufficient for hours, if not days. Conversation was an art to be cultivated, thus attention to others. An important difference is how Austen's people viewed the passage of time. While the farmer, the servant, was always stressed by a task to be done, Austen's people took leisure for granted. Their awareness of time was that of the passage of seasons not of looking towards a weekend after a drudgery of a work week.
The implication in “ I suspect Jane would have remained a governess, if Anne had not had her little fling”, in my opinion is doubtful. Persuasion is a departure from the preceding novels but it is still Austen. I do not think that you can project from the emotional description of Anne to Jane Eyre. Austen and Bronte wrote from radically different experiences and half a century does not bridge the differences. Anne would newer have said “I married him.”
All said, your's was an interesting post.