By Richard Jenkyns
Jane Austen's paintings used to be a real triumph of the comedian spirit--of deep comedy, emerging from the center of human existence. In A fantastic Brush on Ivory, Richard Jenkyns takes us on an amiable journey of Austen's fictional global, starting a window on a few of the nice works of worldwide literature. Focusing principally on Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma, yet with many diverting aspect journeys to Austen's different novels, Jenkyns shines a loving mild at the beautiful craftsmanship and profound ethical mind's eye that informs her writing. Readers will locate, for example, an excellent dialogue of characterization in Austen. Jenkyns's perception into figures reminiscent of Mr. Bennett or Mrs. Norris is brilliant--particularly his portrait of the a laugh, shrewdpermanent, consistently ironic Mr. Bennett, whose humor (Jenkyns indicates) 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 many of the subplots are woven together--highlighting the countless care she took to make each one plot element as average and as believable as attainable. possibly most vital, Jenkyns illuminates the center of Austen's ethical mind's eye: she is consistently acutely aware, all through her works, of the nearness of evil to the comfy social floor. She is aware that the socially applicable sins could be really merciless and cruel, is familiar with that society might be purple in teeth and claw, and but she permits the pleasures of comedy and get together to subordinate them. Insightful and hugely unique, A nice Brush on Ivory captures the spirit and originality of Jane Austen's paintings. it is going to be a loved memento or present for her many lovers.
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7) I have compared Pride and Prejudice to a Rolls-Royce, but the metaphor is imperfect. This novel is a wonderful machine, but for sheer skill and smoothness in the progression of the story and the development of the characters' experience Mansfield Park and Emma are superior even to Pride and Prejudice. And there are some small awkwardnesses in the working out of the complex plot. 8 But the plot requires it, and plausibility must yield for a moment to plot. 15 BEGINNINGS Does it matter? Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannushas always been recognized as one of the greatest plots; yet notoriously it contains several gross implausibilities.
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. It seems likely that almost no one now reads this book without knowing beforehand how it will end, and that is a pity: it becomes harder to appreciate the author's teasing manipulations. Emma is a great comedy, but it gets some of its edge and its eventual exhilaration from the way in which it seems to come close to developing in a darker direction. D. W. 11 This is a half-truth, for her cunning is to present us with an aspect of this archetypal story and then to put it to one side: she is the master of the archetype, not in thrall to it.
Jane Austen is among the best of novelists at giving her readers the sense of a hinterland. In Pride and Prejudice, for example, though there is almost no description of place and the spotlight is upon the principal actors, we feel them to be planted in a solid and credible setting. That is important to the naturalism of the story. Darcy is a rich man, and a virtuous landlord; both these facts are required by the plot. But there is no sense that the union of Darcy and Elizabeth is, as the union of Emma and 43 THE SHAPE OF COMEDY Knightley will be, an act of social and communal importance.
A Fine Brush on Ivory: An Appreciation of Jane Austen by Richard Jenkyns