Ackland, Michael (2016)"What are men to rocks and also mountains?": self-interest, civility and the unnameable in Jane Austen"s Pride and also Prejudice.

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In: Colomba, Caterina, (ed.) Pride and also Prejudice: a bicentennial bricolage. Università degli Studi di Udine, Udine, Italy, pp. 159-174.

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Abstract

One of the criticisms most frequently levelled at Pride and Prejudice focuses on the novel"s self-applied constraints and its alleged disjunction from momentous contemporary occasions, as well as from a significant gamut of human eactivities and also experience. Charlotte Brontë articulated this view-suggest well in an frequently quoted letter to G.H. Lewes of 1848:

Why perform you favor Miss Austen so extremely much? I am perplexed on that point <...> I had not viewed Pride and Prejudice till I review that sentence of yours, and also then I acquired the book. And what did I find? An accurate daguerreotyped portrait of a commonarea face; a very closely fenced, extremely grew garden, through neat borders and also breakable flowers; yet no glance of a bideal, vivid physiognomy, no open up country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck. I have to hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their elegant but confined residences.

And Austen herself seemed essentially to anticipate some of these appointments in a letter of 1813, a year significant achoose for the appearance of Pride and also Prejudice and for fateful Napoleonic projects. Her novel, she conceded, was "fairly also light, and bbest, and also sparkling; it wants shade; it wants to be extended out right here and there" to embrace broader worries, such as "Wtransform Scott, or the history of Buonaparté , or anything that would certainly form a comparison, and also lug the reader through boosted delight to the playfulness and also epigrammatism of the basic style". The bulk of her readers of course have actually demurred, as Austen predicted her correspondent would certainly carry out ("I doubt your fairly agreeing with me here").

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They have happily embraced the novel"s sparkling comedy of manners, joyed in the author"s knowledge and deftness of touch, and in the seemingly satisfying resolution of the plots assorted romantic conundrums. But 200 years after its publication Pride and Prejudice is still dogged intermittently by the charge of bappropriate superficiality and also lack of "shade" – a charge which this essay seeks to reassess in terms of modern expectations, the novel"s preoccupations and its much-debated conclusion.

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