By Richard Jenkyns
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 positive Brush on Ivory, Richard Jenkyns takes us on an amiable journey of Austen's fictional international, establishing 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 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 similar to Mr. Bennett or Mrs. Norris is brilliant--particularly his portrait of the fun, shrewdpermanent, continuously ironic Mr. Bennett, whose humor (Jenkyns exhibits) arises out of a deeply unsatisfied and disappointing marriage. the writer will pay due homage to Austen's unrivaled ability with complicated plotting--the good looks with which the first plot and many of the subplots are woven together--highlighting the limitless care she took to make each one plot element as ordinary and as believable as attainable. maybe most crucial, Jenkyns illuminates the guts 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 understands that the socially appropriate sins could be really merciless and harsh, is familiar with that society could be crimson in teeth and claw, and but she permits the pleasures of comedy and occasion to subordinate them. Insightful and hugely interesting, A positive Brush on Ivory captures the spirit and originality of Jane Austen's paintings. it is going to be a adored memento or reward for her many enthusiasts.
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Additional resources for A Fine Brush on Ivory: An Appreciation of Jane Austen
Jane Austen is of course far less florid than this, more covert, but she too has a sense of theatre at work. Elizabeth's scene with Lady Catherine is one among the series of duets which bring the novel to its denouement, but it is also a duel. It is consciously a great set-piece, like (say) the courtship duet between Millamant and Mirabell in The Way of the World. We revel in the virtuosity of Lizzy's resource and sharpness. As Lady Catherine gets her come-uppance we are right to see behind the modern brilliance the presence of an archetypal story pattern and to feel an atavistic pleasure.
Darcy lays some weight upon malice and cruelty as among Wickham's motives for the attempted seduction of his sister, but Darcy is not an objective judge. Jane Austen has the artistry to give a sense of complexity of motives even in the actions of a subsidiary character; but since Wickham is indeed a subsidiary character, whose function within the novel is to be seen through other people's eyes, we do not need to know, or even speculate much, about the balance between those motives. The other point to be made takes us towards the heart of Jane Austen's moral imagination.
Of course, it is true that Jane Austen has devised the Lucases' bit of gossip for plot reasons, but it is interesting both that she has troubled to devise an answer to a problem that would not occur to one of her readers in a thousand, and that the answer should have its own piquancy. It is interesting not least because another pretty obvious expedient is open to her. 14 Jane Austen could have saved Sutherland his question by indicating that someone in Darcy's circle had warned Lady Catherine of the danger; that would have been easy enough, but it would have been less amusing.
A Fine Brush on Ivory: An Appreciation of Jane Austen by Richard Jenkyns