A Fine Brush on Ivory: An Appreciation of Jane Austen by Richard Jenkyns

March 9, 2017 | Women Writers | By admin | 0 Comments

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 existence. In A wonderful Brush on Ivory, Richard Jenkyns takes us on an amiable journey of Austen's fictional global, beginning a window on the various 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 reminiscent of Mr. Bennett or Mrs. Norris is brilliant--particularly his portrait of the a laugh, shrewdpermanent, continuously ironic Mr. Bennett, whose humor (Jenkyns exhibits) arises out of a deeply unsatisfied and disappointing marriage. the writer can pay due homage to Austen's unequalled ability with advanced plotting--the good looks with which the first plot and a number of the subplots are woven together--highlighting the countless care she took to make each one plot aspect as average and as believable as attainable. might be most vital, Jenkyns illuminates the guts of Austen's ethical mind's eye: she is continually conscious, all through her works, of the nearness of evil to the cozy social floor. She is familiar with that the socially applicable sins can be really merciless and harsh, understands that society could be pink in enamel and claw, and but she permits the pleasures of comedy and occasion to subordinate them. Insightful and hugely interesting, A tremendous Brush on Ivory captures the spirit and originality of Jane Austen's paintings. it will likely be a adored souvenir or reward for her many fanatics.

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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. I suspect that Jane Austen is well enough aware that she is here stretching the bounds of purest naturalism a little bit. But it is only a very little bit, and with two happy consequences. One is that the reader is allowed a pure treat: the whole episode is, quite simply, enormous fun.

But the consequence is that the semi-farcical part of the plot—Catherine's suspecting dark mysteries hidden in the furniture, and persuading herself that General Tilney has made away with his wife—comes to jar a little. The story requires her to be silly, and we have got to know her well enough to think that she is not as silly as that. Jane Austen has to work round the difficulty, by representing Catherine's fantasies as momentary lapses: she is ashamed of her foolishness about the chest and the cupboard, and when Henry detects her suspicions of the General, she is suffused with an agonizing and thoroughly believable sense of embarrassment and shame.

It is transparently artificial, and at odds with anything that has gone before; here is an author whose plot has escaped her control. It may look as though Jane Austen has similarly boxed herself, or perhaps her heroine, into a corner: either Emma must lose Knightley or bear the guilt of wrecking Harriet's happiness. 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.

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