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KCurtis
01-20-2012, 09:04 PM
I am planning on reading Pride and Prejudice this spring or summer, maybe closer to summer, when I can devote more time to it. I have summers off, I work in a school. I have never read Austen, but cannot imagine neglecting to read her most famous book, being a classics fan!
I have an interesting question, I hope. I am currently rereading Jane Eyre, which I LOVE!! I love the writing style; the formality of it, the suspense, and the wonderful narration by Eyre. I am wondering about a comparison in writing styles. I have not researched this, but as I am reading this book I can't help but anticipate reading Austen - the time period is not quite the same, but it is very close. I am thinking maybe you Austen fans and experts can chime in with your opinions, if you also like Charlotte Bronte, and if you see similarities in their work.

kiki1982
01-21-2012, 08:39 AM
I think there are a few things to consider. I think you are right about the timeframe issue: writing changed a lot from the 18th to the 19th century. Austen and Scott are products of the 18th century with a little bit of 19th century passion (Sturm und Drang, which still started in the 18th century in Germany with the famous Goethe and Schiller, i.a.).

However, at least two interfering factors should be considered which bring Austen further from Brontė than Scott, and they are not only timeframe. Brontė was a huga fan of Scott and inspired her juvenalia (shared with her siblings) on him for a great part. So her writing style has a lot of Scott in it. But Austen, although with a mind from the 18th century (think wordy, witty and restrained, like Scott) writes something different to him: satire. Satire is short, needs to be clever and funny, not wordy, drawn out and beautifully crafted. Well, beautifuly crafted maybe, but only so far that it contributes to the wit and fun, not so that it exceeds it. Scott can do half a page about the fog in the Scottish highlands. Austen dedicates a mere paragraph to the grounds of Pemberley (faintly symbolic, but not too overdone). Her stories are no adventure stories which allow this kind of elaborate scenery and description, symbolism etc. her stories are supposed to get on with it and 'hasten to a happy conclusion'.

Another issue to consider might be the shift in what was considered to be good activity and happiness. I don't know much about Scott, but although Austen and Brontė were both considered middle class (despite not having too much money due to both their fathers' professions, incidentally both of them clergymen!), they display a different set of ideals. When Victoria came to the throne as a young 'virgin queen' in 1837 and then married her German prince, they decided to market their domestic life as an antidote to the decadence of what went before them: the Prince Regent and later king George IV was glutonous, had mistresses 10 to one finger, spent vast amounts of money on impressing people, George IV nor his brothers had been able to produce a legal heir (scores of illegitimate children there were...), apart from one lucky strike (Victoria by a late marriage and marathon shagging no doubt...). In short, it had become an embarassment. As the queen and her prince consort marketed their quiet domestic life as the ideal (in pictures) (don't think they were not passionate and did not look at naked bodies... Their private collection is far from what was presumed) there was a shift in the rest of art as well which idealised relationships and morals in a different way and it became mainly a middleclass ideal, the one-husband-one-wife-no mistress thing (not for the higher classes though). Not that Austen marketed mistresses and decadent behaviour, but she goes about her scenery diffferently. Where Brontė emphasises the idea of private conversation, domestic love/bliss, etc. Austen, despite also being mainly confined to her home, describes great big scenes of happiness, merriness and social occasions. The way in which Jane finds a husband is rather by chance than by going to hunt for one. The way in which Ingram was tryng to find one different to how Miss Bingley was trying to shoot one out of the sky.

The latter could be an intersting way of looking at things, and it could be equally interesting to elaborate to other authors like Trollope, Eliot, Gaskell and Richardson, Radcliffe (maybe, depends) etc.

Scott I think writes less about the same thing than these two women (he's man after all :D).

KCurtis
01-21-2012, 10:50 AM
Wow, thankyou Kiki. Your post is impressive. I can't wait to read and read some more!! I do love satire and how it involves social commentary of the day. My favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald. But I need to read women authors too, or I will not have a broad range of great writers on my reading quests.

OrphanPip
02-14-2012, 04:34 PM
Perhaps a better counterpoint to Jane Eyre would be Northanger Abbey though. Jane Eyre is a Gothic novel, inspired in part by the Gothic adventure novels of Ann Radcliffe, who was contemporary to Austen. What Bronte incorporates, as Kiki points out, is a Victorian middle-class morality, and she is in part drawing off of Richardson's Pamela, which in terms of plot is the road-map to Jane Eyre.

In Northanger Abbey Austen affectionately satirizes the Gothic novel, so the contrast with Bronte would be more apparent than in Pride and Prejudice.

KCurtis
02-14-2012, 05:48 PM
Perhaps a better counterpoint to Jane Eyre would be Northanger Abbey though. Jane Eyre is a Gothic novel, inspired in part by the Gothic adventure novels of Ann Radcliffe, who was contemporary to Austen. What Bronte incorporates, as Kiki points out, is a Victorian middle-class morality, and she is in part drawing off of Richardson's Pamela, which in terms of plot is the road-map to Jane Eyre.

In Northanger Abbey Austen affectionately satirizes the Gothic novel, so the contrast with Bronte would be more apparent than in Pride and Prejudice.
Thankyou for your post, I can't wait to read Austen.

kiki1982
02-15-2012, 05:48 AM
oooo, I'll have to read Pamela once I have finished with Clarissa then. :D

I tend to agree with Pip about this, but maybe it's interesting to get a fll-blown Gothic novel alongside (unless you have read Dracula or one of its counterparts of course). Northanger Abbey was based on (apparently) The Mysteries of Udolpho by Radcliffe, but I expect most Radcliffes will do... Like you get a better idea of what Jane Eyre was based on, because it is not really full-blown Gothic, but has reminiscences of it (it's a bit late to be).