Jane Austen by Tony Tanner (auth.)

By Tony Tanner (auth.)

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Additional resources for Jane Austen

Sample text

But this line of speculation would not help us very much in considering Jane Austen's particular use of English. There are certain characteristics of her written prose which could be related to the fact that she was a woman, but these are also related to the fact that she was a woman of a certain class at a particular time in history. It is for instance certainly true - and has not gone unnoticed that her language is marked by a minimum of physical action. Vigorous transitive verbs are rare, and for the most part (there are of course some deliberate and significant exceptions) her language tends to record movements governed by considerations of decorum and etiquette - composed and controlled (one might say constricted and confined).

There is a good deal of defence of novels and reading in this novel, so that it is in part a self-justifying artefact. At the same time there is ambivalence. Reading can deform reality in advance so that the avid reader, living with an inflamed imagination, might well not only' see' things which are not actually there in the Anger in the Abbey: 'Northanger Abbey' 45 external world, but also not see what is there. In this way reading may lead to a misreading of the actual non-fictional given world.

One might want to characterise the opposite qualities as likewise characteristically female. But this line of speculation would not help us very much in considering Jane Austen's particular use of English. There are certain characteristics of her written prose which could be related to the fact that she was a woman, but these are also related to the fact that she was a woman of a certain class at a particular time in history. It is for instance certainly true - and has not gone unnoticed that her language is marked by a minimum of physical action.

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