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BN Editor
Bill_T
Posts: 366
Registered: ‎03-20-2007
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Our Thanks -- and last Questions -- for David Shapard

On behalf of all the BN.com editors, and the community here, I'd like to thank David Shapard for joining us in this wonderful discussion of The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, and offering his insights on Austen, her age, and her most-beloved novel.
David, I hope you've had a good time -- and I trust you can tell you've got a ready audience for the next book you choose to annotate!


David is still here with us through the end of the week, so don't miss your chance to get in any last questions or comments for him -- or for the rest of us!
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 112
Registered: ‎06-05-2007
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Accessibility

Dr. Shapard, you've done a great service for the American "common reader." I've read Pride and Prejudice countless times, but I learned something new from every single message you posted. Thank you for making the novel accessible to many more readers in this country.


Bill_T wrote:

David, I hope you've had a good time -- and I trust you can tell you've got a ready audience for the next book you choose to annotate!
Author
DavidShapard
Posts: 25
Registered: ‎05-24-2007
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Re: Accessibility



Prof wrote:
Dr. Shapard, you've done a great service for the American "common reader." I've read Pride and Prejudice countless times, but I learned something new from every single message you posted. Thank you for making the novel accessible to many more readers in this country.




Thank you for your praise. It is always nice to hear from people who appreciate your work. Please feel free to post any additional questions over the next couple of days.
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Laurel
Posts: 5,747
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
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Re: Accessibility

Yes, thank you--a most excellent book.



DavidShapard wrote:


Prof wrote:
Dr. Shapard, you've done a great service for the American "common reader." I've read Pride and Prejudice countless times, but I learned something new from every single message you posted. Thank you for making the novel accessible to many more readers in this country.




Thank you for your praise. It is always nice to hear from people who appreciate your work. Please feel free to post any additional questions over the next couple of days.



"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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lablover
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎06-18-2007
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Re: Our Thanks -- and last Questions -- for David Shapard

In another thread of the discussion was mentioned the possibility that Mary from P&P was the character most like Jane Austen herself. I noticed that in the back of your book, under the description for each of Austen book's, Fanny from "Mansfield Park" is listed as Austen's favorite character. I have now read four of Austen's books and found "Mansfield Park" to be the most boring and thought Fanny dull, timid and mousy; her romantic rival was, I thought, much more like other Austen characters (Emma and Elizabeth)in her playfullness and wit. What is your opinion of this? Do you think Fanny most resembles Jane Austen herself? Why was that character her favorite creation?
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DavidShapard
Posts: 25
Registered: ‎05-24-2007
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Re: Our Thanks -- and last Questions -- for David Shapard


lablover wrote:
In another thread of the discussion was mentioned the possibility that Mary from P&P was the character most like Jane Austen herself. I noticed that in the back of your book, under the description for each of Austen book's, Fanny from "Mansfield Park" is listed as Austen's favorite character. I have now read four of Austen's books and found "Mansfield Park" to be the most boring and thought Fanny dull, timid and mousy; her romantic rival was, I thought, much more like other Austen characters (Emma and Elizabeth)in her playfullness and wit. What is your opinion of this? Do you think Fanny most resembles Jane Austen herself? Why was that character her favorite creation?




The description you refer to at the back of the book is not mine; that is something the publisher wrote as part of describing and advertising their own editions of the novels. The basis of the assertion that Fanny Price is the author's favorite character is that I believe Jane Austen refers at one point to "dear Fanny" or something along those lines (unfortunately, I have not yet been able to find the exact reference). I myself would not necessarily say that Fanny is Austen's favorite character, though I do believe Austen certainly likes her.

Your own dislike of Fanny, and "Mansfield Park", is not unusual. It is probably the book that has stirred up most controversy over the years, mostly due to people's dislike either of the heroine or of the way the story turns out. I myself like the novel very well, and think that in many respects it is Austen's best. In saying that, I am thinking more of artistic qualities than of the likability of the characters. I would agree that Fanny might be the hardest heroine to identify with, unless perhaps one is shy and timid oneself.

As for Jane Austen's reasons for creating such a heroine, I do not think the principal one is Fanny's resemblance to herself. While it is possible she drew on elements of herself in creating Fanny, our information about her own life and personality suggests that she was more confident and outgoing, not to mention far more full of humor. I think one reason she created Fanny was simply that she showed a consistent interest in exploring a variety of human characters. Many people like Fanny exist, and Jane Austen may have been attracted to sketching such a person, and showing that beneath the unremarkable exterior lay someone with a very rich inner life. She may have felt a particular attraction to such a project, as a change of pace, after she had presented such a totally opposite character in Elizabeth Bennet.

Finally, she had a particular moral point to make in the novel. You are correct that Mary Crawford is more like Elizabeth or Emma in her playfulness and wit, but part of the point of the novel is that such qualities, if not joined to firm moral principles, can be dangerous. She makes that point some in "Pride and Prejudice", by showing the troubles Elizabeth suffers by her overindulgence in wit (as well as by showing the irresponsibility of the perpetually witty Mr. Bennet), and she may have wished to strengthen the point in her next novel.
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