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10/19/2012

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Christine, after reading this post I visited Amazon and read the comments. People seem to love the book, which makes me curious to read it. I agree with your assessment of Elizabeth. Vic

An interesting, candid review, to which I respond as follows:

1. I was one of the attendees at the JASNA AGM just held in Brooklyn 3 weeks ago, at which Sandy Lerner was one of the 3 plenary speakers. I am sorry to say that much the same could be said about her plenary address as you said about her address at Goucher. Given her great contributions to preservation of Chawton, etc., better to just leave it at that--this is a pattern.

2. However....she is a very clever person, and I happen to agree with her that there is a valid way of reading Pride & Prejudice in which Lizzy Bennet can be understood as being "naturally lazy". If you browse in my blog, including these posts in particular.....

http://sharpelvessociety.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-darkness-of-mr-darcys-character.html

http://sharpelvessociety.blogspot.com/2011/01/jane-austens-anamorphism.html

http://sharpelvessociety.blogspot.com/2010/08/re-reading-p-mary-bennet-good-satan-of.html

http://sharpelvessociety.blogspot.com/search?q=Darcy+pretends


...you will get a taste of that alternative reading. Lizzy certainly believes herself to be a great studier of character (i.e., amateur psychologist), but perhaps she is MUCH more like Emma Woodhouse than most readers of Pride & Prejudice have ever realized.

You won't find my perspective anywhere else in Austen literary criticism, I'd be curious to hear your reaction to what I say. ;)

Cheers,
ARNIE PERLSTEIN
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

I read the book and I can't say I enjoyed it. It was very tedious, without much plot and I didn't like her characterization of Lizzie. I don't think it would make a good movie at all. Maybe a docudrama on traveling during the post-Napoleonic era or a very brief TV movie involving the last third of the novel. You can read a full review on my blog.

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About Chris Stewart

  • Bio
    I'm program director for literary arts for my state arts council. I direct the state Poetry Out Loud program for the NEA. I have degrees. I teach writing. I've published my work. I write novels, poetry, and plays. I love chocolate, am talkative, a realist and idealist, prefer flannel to silk, am a real blonde, and consider books my life - reading them, writing them, smelling them, tasting them (yeah, I've licked a page or two in my time. Who hasn't?).

What I've Read

  • Jane Austen: Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon, Penguin, 1974 (intro Margaret Drabble)
  • Claire Tomalin: Jane Austen, A Life. Vintage Books, New York, 1997.
  • Jane Austen: Persuasion - Penguin Classics Series, edited by Gillian Beer. April, 2003.
  • Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho with intro by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Dover Publications, New York, 2004 (originally G.G. and J. Robinson, London, 1794 and titled: The Mysteries of Udolpho, A Romance; Interspersed with Some Pieces of Poetry.
  • Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey, with intro by Alfred Mac Adam, Columbia University. Barnes & Noble classic, New York, 2005. (1818)
  • Jane Austen: Mansfield Park, with intro by Amanda Claybaugh, Columbia University. Barnes & Noble classic, New York, 2004 (1814)
  • Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility with intro and notes by Laura Engel. A Barnes and Noble Classics Book. New York, 2004. (1811)
  • Jane Austen: Emma, A Signet Classic with an Afterword by Graham Hough. The New American Library of Canada, Limited, 1964.
  • Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice -The World's Classics edition, edited by James Kinsley, with intro by Isobel Armstrong. Oxford University Press, 1990.