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Jane Austen's wit

Jane Austen's wit is for me one of the paramount pleasures of reading her. Her touch is so precise, her jabs so beautifully timed and worded, that I am in awe just watching such a master at work.

There is seldom a passage of more than two or three paragraphs where her wit is not at work. Let's share some of the most delightful instances we find as we read along.
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Jane Austen's wit

So true. With a few lines of dialog, Austen enables us to picture a character and know what he/she is like. Instead of being told - we learn by reading/listening to the character. She takes the mundane and gives us back pleasure and joy.

On page 174 in Josephine Ross's Jane Austen, A Companion, she writes:

Years later her niece Marianne would claim that 'Aunt Jane' would often put down her sewing when they were in the library, 'burst out laughing', then run to a table where pens and paper were lying, and 'write down something', before returning, tranquilly, to her needlework.

I love the image this brings to mind: a funny phrase or situation coming to her while she's sitting there doing something and ordinary - almost as if she heard it and found it funny - then jumping up to write it down before she forgot it. I also think her vast letter writing; she wrote as if she were having a conversation.

There's also a lot of richness & depth in her writing, as in Chapter 2 when Mr. Bennet tells his family about his visit to Bingley. We can see that Mr. Bennet loves to tease, especially his wife. Also at the end of Chapter 1 when she so easily sums up Mrs. Bennet:

Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertin temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.
  (B&N Classics edition, page 6)



Everyman wrote:
Jane Austen's wit is for me one of the paramount pleasures of reading her. Her touch is so precise, her jabs so beautifully timed and worded, that I am in awe just watching such a master at work.

There is seldom a passage of more than two or three paragraphs where her wit is not at work. Let's share some of the most delightful instances we find as we read along.

Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Everyman
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Re: Jane Austen's wit

that's a great anecdote!

I have the volume of her letters, and am trying to find a time to get to reading them on top of all the other reading I have lined up. If I can get to them soon enough, I hope to find a few appropriate excerpts to share here.
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I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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LizzieAnn
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Jane Austen's wit

It's amazing how much information there in on Jane Austen. In addition to her novels, I've read 4 other books about her life & works, I'm currently reading a 5th, and I have 2 more waiting to be read, and 2 more on order. And there's still so many more to read!



Everyman wrote:
that's a great anecdote!

I have the volume of her letters, and am trying to find a time to get to reading them on top of all the other reading I have lined up. If I can get to them soon enough, I hope to find a few appropriate excerpts to share here.


Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Jane Austen's wit

I find Austen's dialog and wit absolutely delicious. For example, in chapter 3, after the Meryton ball Mrs. Bennet is telling Mr. Bennet about the young women that Mr. Bingley danced with:

"...and he seemed quite struck with Jane as she was going down the dance. So he enquired who she was, and got introduced, and asked her for the two next. The, the two third he danced with Miss King, and the two foruth with Maria Lucas, and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and the Boulanger --"

"If he had had any compassion for me," cried her husband, impatiently, "he would not have danced half so much! For God's sake, say not more of his partners. Oh that he had sprained his ankle in the first dance!"
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Re: Jane Austen's wit



LizzieAnn wrote:
I find Austen's dialog and wit absolutely delicious.

Amen!

Her dialogue is the heart of her books. The other elements -- plot, setting, characters -- are good, though nothing particularly extraordinary. But her dialogue sparkles with wit, intelligence, and feeling.

This is perhaps why people who tend to skim over dialogue in preference to plot, settings, and other elements often wind up not appreciating Austen. You really have to read her dialogue with care and focus attention on it to appreciate the subtlety of what she does with it.

Lines like "You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves" neet to be not rushed over, but savored.

Or "How good it was in you, my dear Mr. Bennet. But I knew I should persuade you at last." She persuaded him? Ha! But the irony there is easy to skim over.

Indeed, almost every line of dialogue is a little jewel, worth holding under the light, gazing at, turning before your eye, and admiring.
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Re: Jane Austen's wit

I've been reading Pride & Prejudice for decades (I don't have to say how many decades, right? :smileyhappy: ). I never ever get tired of reading it - it's always fresh. I still chuckle, gasp, laugh, and smile while reading JA's marvelous witty dialog. It never gets old.



Everyman wrote:


LizzieAnn wrote:
I find Austen's dialog and wit absolutely delicious.

Amen!

Her dialogue is the heart of her books. The other elements -- plot, setting, characters -- are good, though nothing particularly extraordinary. But her dialogue sparkles with wit, intelligence, and feeling.

This is perhaps why people who tend to skim over dialogue in preference to plot, settings, and other elements often wind up not appreciating Austen. You really have to read her dialogue with care and focus attention on it to appreciate the subtlety of what she does with it.

Lines like "You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves" neet to be not rushed over, but savored.

Or "How good it was in you, my dear Mr. Bennet. But I knew I should persuade you at last." She persuaded him? Ha! But the irony there is easy to skim over.

Indeed, almost every line of dialogue is a little jewel, worth holding under the light, gazing at, turning before your eye, and admiring.

Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Literature as Food or Medicine?

Your description is interesting: I would never describe her work as delicious. Astringent is a word that comes to mind!


LizzieAnn wrote:
I find Austen's dialog and wit absolutely delicious.
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Literature as Food

Just shows how differently people view the same thing. I find her ironic, humorous, satiric, fun, & delicious! :smileyhappy:



pmath wrote:
Your description is interesting: I would never describe her work as delicious. Astringent is a word that comes to mind!


LizzieAnn wrote:
I find Austen's dialog and wit absolutely delicious.


Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Literature as Food



LizzieAnn wrote:
Just shows how differently people view the same thing. I find her ironic, humorous, satiric, fun, & delicious! :smileyhappy:



pmath wrote:
Your description is interesting: I would never describe her work as delicious. Astringent is a word that comes to mind!


LizzieAnn wrote:
I find Austen's dialog and wit absolutely delicious.







Yes: And I think I asked a question about who thought she was delicious two months ago, before the P&P group started. I now see how delicious she is to you, and I am inspired. You're doing a great job on the boards. You all are. Thanks.



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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Choisya's Gift

Yes, Ilana, in your "yum!" post, quoted below! I actually think her novels are very moving, not "yummy:" I feel deeply for Mrs Bennet, for example.

As I wrote earlier, because of Choisya, I'm beginning to understand why P&P isn't everyone's favorite novel. It's not the author herself that's the problem: it's some of her pesky characters!


IlanaSimons wrote (here):
Funny enough, I've always been pulled into the emotion I find in writers like Eliot and Woolf...and have actually had a harder time simply feeling *yummy* about Austen. But so many people simply feel *yum!* with her.

IlanaSimons wrote:
Yes: And I think I asked a question about who thought she was delicious two months ago, before the P&P group started.

LizzieAnn wrote:
I find her ironic, humorous, satiric, fun, & delicious! :smileyhappy:

pmath wrote:
Astringent is a word that comes to mind!

LizzieAnn wrote:
I find Austen's dialog and wit absolutely delicious.
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Choisya
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Re: Pesky characters

[ Edited ]
LOL pmath. Your word 'astringent' is a good one and describes her excellent use of irony well. Yes, it is her characters I have trouble with, not her wonderfully economic writing style. 'Genteel' women and the nobility are not characters I would choose to read about. Fanny in Mansfield Park is one of the few JA characters I have warmed to and it has been said that she spoilt it all by marrying a....:smileyhappy: Also, JA is an author who uses a lot of dialogue and I prefer long descriptive passages. Just personal taste, that's all.




pmath wrote:
Yes, Ilana, in your "yum!" post, quoted below! I actually think her novels are very moving, not "yummy:" I feel deeply for Mrs Bennet, for example.

As I wrote earlier, because of Choisya, I'm beginning to understand why P&P isn't everyone's favorite novel. It's not the author herself that's the problem: it's some of her pesky characters!


IlanaSimons wrote (here):
Funny enough, I've always been pulled into the emotion I find in writers like Eliot and Woolf...and have actually had a harder time simply feeling *yummy* about Austen. But so many people simply feel *yum!* with her.

IlanaSimons wrote:
Yes: And I think I asked a question about who thought she was delicious two months ago, before the P&P group started.

LizzieAnn wrote:
I find her ironic, humorous, satiric, fun, & delicious! :smileyhappy:

pmath wrote:
Astringent is a word that comes to mind!

LizzieAnn wrote:
I find Austen's dialog and wit absolutely delicious.


Message Edited by Choisya on 02-16-200704:35 AM

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For Choisya: Gentility (and Q for Ilana re Jane Austen's MANSFIELD PARK)

Well, they're not all really genteel, and, as we've already seen, this is the very cause of many of the problems in P&P!

Just as we first discussed Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford and then her North and South, it would be a good idea to discuss another one of JA's novels after our discussion of P&P. Ilana, since the discussion of Paradise Lost will probably be relatively lengthy, is it okay with you if we discuss Mansfield Park here concurrently? (Some readers may also be interested in reading one but not the other.)


Choisya wrote:
LOL pmath. Your word 'astringent' is a good one and describes her excellent use of irony well. Yes, it is her characters I have trouble with, not her wonderfully economic writing style. 'Genteel' women and the nobility are not characters I would choose to read about. Fanny in Mansfield Park is one of the few JA characters I have warmed to and it has been said that she spoilt it all by marrying a....:smileyhappy:

pmath wrote:
Yes, Ilana, in your "yum!" post, quoted below! I actually think her novels are very moving, not "yummy:" I feel deeply for Mrs Bennet, for example.

As I wrote earlier, because of Choisya, I'm beginning to understand why P&P isn't everyone's favorite novel. It's not the author herself that's the problem: it's some of her pesky characters!

IlanaSimons wrote (here):
Funny enough, I've always been pulled into the emotion I find in writers like Eliot and Woolf...and have actually had a harder time simply feeling *yummy* about Austen. But so many people simply feel *yum!* with her.

IlanaSimons wrote:
Yes: And I think I asked a question about who thought she was delicious two months ago, before the P&P group started.

LizzieAnn wrote:
I find her ironic, humorous, satiric, fun, & delicious! :smileyhappy:

pmath wrote:
Astringent is a word that comes to mind!

LizzieAnn wrote:
I find Austen's dialog and wit absolutely delicious.
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Re: For Choisya: Gentility (and Q for Ilana re Jane Austen's MANSFIELD PARK)



pmath wrote:
Well, they're not all really genteel, and, as we've already seen, this is the very cause of many of the problems in P&P!

Just as we first discussed Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford and then her North and South, it would be a good idea to discuss another one of JA's novels after our discussion of P&P. Ilana, since the discussion of Paradise Lost will probably be relatively lengthy, is it okay with you if we discuss Mansfield Park here concurrently? (Some readers may also be interested in reading one but not the other.)




This space is certainly yours--and you're free to discuss _Mansfield Park_.
Do know that Bob and I will be launching Classic books in March as well. (As most of you know, Bob and I monitor the British and American boards but also lead our own, separate classic book groups each month.) My March book group is Dostoevsky's The Double.
So...we've got a full plate, but you're free to put whatever on your plate you desire.
The Austen discussion has, of course, been one of the best we've had.
Ilana



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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Re: For Choisya: Gentility (and Q for Ilana re Jane Austen's MANSFIELD PARK)

Ilana, since the discussion of Paradise Lost will probably be relatively lengthy, is it okay with you if we discuss Mansfield Park here concurrently?

Choisya and others have already noted the problem of too many book discussions going on at once diluting the audience, and therefore the quality of discussion, of each of them. Up to now, we have followed a clear pattern of one reader-moderated discussion at a time, and that has seemed to work well for us.

Ilana, I think it would be a mistake for you to approve scheduling two or more reader-moderated book at once on top of the "official" scheduled book discussions. Given the limited time people have to spend here, it would be inevitable that all the discussions would be likely to suffer.
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Choisya
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Re: For Choisya: Gentility (and Q for Ilana re Jane Austen's MANSFIELD PARK)

They are 'genteel' in my book pmath. By definition, Southerners are more 'genteel' than Northerners:smileyvery-happy: Do you remember in the BBC P&P that Elizabeth got her dress very dirty when walking across that field - now that was a BBC interpretation, Southern ladies just don't do that sort of thing. I once lived next door to a very genteel Southern lady who, like myself, was a keen gardener. She would work all day in her garden and at the end of it she would look as clean and immaculate as she started out, whereas non-genteel me would look a muddy wreck!:smileysurprised: D'Arcy may seem less genteel, because he is living in the North but he is a 'gentleman', probably raised and educated in the South at a public school. Not a Mr Thornton or a Mr Rochester:smileyhappy:




pmath wrote:
Well, they're not all really genteel, and, as we've already seen, this is the very cause of many of the problems in P&P!

Just as we first discussed Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford and then her North and South, it would be a good idea to discuss another one of JA's novels after our discussion of P&P. Ilana, since the discussion of Paradise Lost will probably be relatively lengthy, is it okay with you if we discuss Mansfield Park here concurrently? (Some readers may also be interested in reading one but not the other.)


Choisya wrote:
LOL pmath. Your word 'astringent' is a good one and describes her excellent use of irony well. Yes, it is her characters I have trouble with, not her wonderfully economic writing style. 'Genteel' women and the nobility are not characters I would choose to read about. Fanny in Mansfield Park is one of the few JA characters I have warmed to and it has been said that she spoilt it all by marrying a....:smileyhappy:

pmath wrote:
Yes, Ilana, in your "yum!" post, quoted below! I actually think her novels are very moving, not "yummy:" I feel deeply for Mrs Bennet, for example.

As I wrote earlier, because of Choisya, I'm beginning to understand why P&P isn't everyone's favorite novel. It's not the author herself that's the problem: it's some of her pesky characters!

IlanaSimons wrote (here):
Funny enough, I've always been pulled into the emotion I find in writers like Eliot and Woolf...and have actually had a harder time simply feeling *yummy* about Austen. But so many people simply feel *yum!* with her.

IlanaSimons wrote:
Yes: And I think I asked a question about who thought she was delicious two months ago, before the P&P group started.

LizzieAnn wrote:
I find her ironic, humorous, satiric, fun, & delicious! :smileyhappy:

pmath wrote:
Astringent is a word that comes to mind!

LizzieAnn wrote:
I find Austen's dialog and wit absolutely delicious.



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Everyman
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Re: For Choisya: Gentility (and Q for Ilana re Jane Austen's MANSFIELD PARK)

Do you remember in the BBC P&P that Elizabeth got her dress very dirty when walking across that field - now that was a BBC interpretation, Southern ladies just don't do that sort of thing

`She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.''

``She did indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country, because her sister had a cold? Her hair so untidy, so blowsy!''

``Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its office.''
_______________
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Choisya
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Re: For Choisya: Gentility (and Q for Ilana re Jane Austen's MANSFIELD PARK)

Thanks for finding those quotes Everyman - I haven't read the book for awhile so thought it was a bit of BBCness. I suppose I should say that this shows Elizabeth's 'rebellion' against her Southern genteelness:smileyhappy:



Everyman wrote:
Do you remember in the BBC P&P that Elizabeth got her dress very dirty when walking across that field - now that was a BBC interpretation, Southern ladies just don't do that sort of thing

`She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.''

``She did indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country, because her sister had a cold? Her hair so untidy, so blowsy!''

``Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its office.''


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Laurel
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Question for Ilana

[ Edited ]
"My March book group is Dostoevsky's The Double."

Ilana, will that be instead of Notes from the Underground, or in addition to? Constance Garnett translation?

Message Edited by Laurel on 02-16-200704:10 PM

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: Question for Ilana



Laurel wrote:
"My March book group is Dostoevsky's The Double."

Ilana, will that be instead of Notes from the Underground, or in addition to? Constance Garnett translation?

Message Edited by Laurel on 02-16-200704:10 PM







Yes: it is the Garnett. I will focus on The Double. The B&N classic Dostoevsky short fiction book, titled, Notes from the Underground, The Double and Other Stories has about 4 more stories in it. Perhaps we can hit them all, tho The Double is about 170 pgs and Notes from Underground is about 160 pgs. So all I can say for sure is that I'll be focusing on The Double. It's a really wild tale: ripe for multiple interpretations. A guy meets his double. This could be a metaphor for reputation-control, or paranoia, or the Freudian split self, or lots of things. It's just a meaningful read, and less word-claustrophobic than Notes From Undergound.



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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