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Persuasion

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Amanda Grange 13th May 2006 09:35 AM

 

I thought I'd start a thread on Persuasion, because it's often people's favourite Austen, and there's so much to discuss.

 

One of the remarks often made about Austen's books is that they ignore the events going on in Europe at the time, but I disagree with this. The plot of Pride and Prejudice revolves, to a certain extent, around the militia, and Persuasion is very firmly based in the events of the day.

 

Wentworth's naval career is integral to the plot. He is, before the book opens, bold, fearless, and newly promoted. This is important because it makes two entirely opposite opinions of him credible. Anne sees the bold, fearless optimism and the future success, and falls in love with it. Lady Russell sees the overconfidence, the uncertainty of his life and the long periods of loneliness ahead for his wife. When she meddles, I don't dislike her for it - well, not much - because she is genuinely worried for Anne's future happiness.

 

His career also makes it credible that Sir Walter would despise him, whilst still consenting to his marrying Anne. This is necessary, because it means that, on the one hand, we can see that Anne would find it difficult to stand out against her family's disapproval, and on the other, it is Anne who has to eventually turn him down. This leads to the hostility that keeps them apart in the future.

 

It's interesting that this is the only Austen (IIRC) in which the woman is about to marry a man who is the poorer of the two, and of a lower standing socially. Usually, the women marry men who are richer and higher, socially, than they.

 

Wentworth's career then takes him away for years, which allows the plot of rejection and reconciliation possible. It also allows him to rise in the world, which isn't essential to the plot, but helps with the happy ending.

 

David 13th May 2006 11:34 AM

 

You're right, Amanda, a lot of people cite Persuasion as their favourite, and I can see why that might be. It feels like the most mature of Austen's novels in many ways, although this is possibly why it doesn't top my list.

 

For me it lacks much of the lightness of touch and the humour that characterise the other novels - not that it's absent, just relegated to a far more minor theme in the orchestral movement. I find Emma charts just the right course for me between the sweet sparkle of Pride and Prejudice and the more thoughtful, quiet and reflective tones of Persuasion. I'm also not quite so taken by Anne, who doesn't have the feisty spirit of Lizzy or the fascinating flaws and huge journey of self-discovery of Emma.

 

Of course it is still a great novel and I love it, but not to the same degree!

 

There is a greater awareness of contemporary events in Persuasion, and I think that's part of its maturity. I would have to disagree that P&P concerns itself in this way, though - the militia are there not with any consciousness of actual military roles, but as the embodiment of the girls' romantic dreams, as well as representing one of the two main vocational avenues for men - the army, as opposed to Collins and the clergy. We would no more think of them going to war than we would think of Mr Collins ranking God higher up the ladder of authority than Lady Catherine! ;)

 

Momo 13th May 2006 12:33 PM

 

When it comes to a great author like Jane Austen, it is hard to pick your favourite. Some of her novels are quite different to her others, and Persuasion surely is one of them.

I have never read an Austen novel as a teen or young adult and so hae always judged from the adult point of view. Maybe that's the reason why Persuasion is my favourite.

Jane Austen has always been critizised because she writes about people of a certain social status only. Yes, she does, and that's good. Because that was about the kind of people she knew, the kind of world she lives in. And that's why her novels are so great. She knows what she's writing about.

What I like most in Persuasion is the way she captured the problems women were facing at the time. Especially the part where she explains to Captain Harville the difference between men's and women's feelings and their way of living. I thought she managed to come across so well, you just could feel her thoughts.

And nobody ever said that her novels were historical ones. They are, but only of the small world she lived in and knew.

Pride & Prejudice is much more lively, Emma as well, and I love both of them. But if I was allowed to take one of Jane Austen's books only to a desert island, Persuasion it would be.

 

Darkstar 13th May 2006 12:58 PM

 

Persuasion is certainly my favourite Austen, perhaps because it is her most mature work (IMHO). P&P and S&S are great fun, and I enjoyed Northanger Abbey, but Emma never did much for me.

 

Amanda Grange 13th May 2006 01:00 PM

 

I'm not sure how I got a smilie at the top of this post, but I can't seem to get rid of it.

What I like most in Persuasion is the way she captured the problems women were facing at the time. Especially the part where she explains to Captain Harville the difference between men's and women's feelings and their way of living.

Yes, I love this speech:

 

"Your feelings may be the strongest," replied Anne, "but the same spirit of analogy will authorise me to assert that ours are the most tender. Man is more robust than woman, but he is not longer lived; which exactly explains my view of the nature of their attachments. Nay, it would be too hard upon you, if it were otherwise. You have difficulties, and privations, and dangers enough to struggle with. You are always labouring and toiling, exposed to every risk and hardship. Your home, country, friends, all quitted. Neither time, nor health, nor life, to be called your own. It would be too hard, indeed" (with a faltering voice), "if woman's feelings were to be added to all this."

 

The thought seems to have been in the air at the time, because it's very similar to Byron's, "Man's love is of man's life a part; it is a woman's whole existence," only, of course, Persuasion came first.

 

I like the differing views of women Austen gives us, though. Mrs Croft sails the seas with her husband.She's very well travelled, leading to one of my favourite exchanges in the book, between her and Mrs Musgrove: "(I) never was in the West Indies. We do not call Bermuda or Bahama, you know, the West Indies."

 

Mrs Musgrove had not a word to say in dissent; she could not accuse herself of having ever called them anything in the whole course of her life." :D

 

David 13th May 2006 01:03 PM

 

Some lovely quotations, Amanda! :)

 

(As for the smilie at the top, under the text box there are smilies with check-box circles. You need to click on "No icon".)

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Starry 13th May 2006 03:49 PM

 

Persuasion is my favourite Austen novel too and I think this is because the heroine is older and the feel of the novel is more serious but also because of that whole scene in the novel in which Anne and Harville talk about love and Captain Wentworth's reaction to it.

 

Whether rightly or wrongly I also get the impression that Anne is the character that is most like Jane Austen or perhaps an amalgamation of herself and Cassandra. Younger sister, thwarted in love, unable to see a future for herself, now her first bloom has gone, outside being at the beck and call of her family. She doesn't put much store by grandeur and prefers the company of long-standing friends (Martha/Mrs Smith).

 

In fact Anne makes the novel for me, she is my favourite Austen character. So you can keep your Emmas and Lizzys, David :D

 

David 13th May 2006 05:10 PM

 

In fact Anne makes the novel for me, she is my favourite Austen character. So you can keep your Emmas and Lizzys, David

 

Fair deal - two for one! ;)

 

I wonder (and I've posed this before in other contexts) if there's a gender issue behind the preference? Perhaps men find the calm maturity of Anne a little less easy to warm to? She's easily possessed of more sense than any other Austen heroine, so I may just be less intrigued by her.

 

Starry 13th May 2006 10:21 PM

I wonder (and I've posed this before in other contexts) if there's a gender issue behind the preference? Perhaps men find the calm maturity of Anne a little less easy to warm to? She's easily possessed of more sense than any other Austen heroine, so I may just be less intrigued by her.

I want to say an outright NO! to that, but you're probably right. :rolleyes:

 

Amanda Grange 14th May 2006 12:38 PM

 

Talking of preference, I thought I'd try and put the books in order, favourite first:

 

Pride and Prejudice

Emma

Persuasion

Sense and Sensibility

Northanger Abbey

Mansfield Park

 

This order varies from time to time, because sometimes Emma is my favourite, and occasionally Persuasion tops the list, but the above is probably my usual order of preference.

 

Momo 14th May 2006 01:19 PM

 

Oh dear, I couldn't possibly put out a list like that. The only thing I know is that "Northanger Abbey" is my least favourite and "Persuasion" the favourite one. But as to the others, it is so difficult to put them in order. :thinking:

 

Flingo 14th May 2006 10:57 PM

 

Persuasion is currently the Huge Hampshire Read.

 

I feel like I ought to re-read it, as I can't remember anything and have visions of people asking difficult questions when I am on the Enquiry Desk....!

 

(I could just use you all to swot up though!)

 

Momo 15th May 2006 01:50 PM

I feel like I ought to re-read it, ...

Don't go watching the movie made in 1995. Although it's a good movie, it's not really sticking to the book everywhere and you might quote something and everyone knows you didn't read the book.

 

Amanda Grange 15th May 2006 02:43 PM

 

I picked up this quote at the Republic of Pemberley

 

"Seeing a movie or television adaptation of any of Jane Austen's works is like hearing a symphony of Mozart played on a harmonica."

-- heard on Swedish television's Nattcafé, late June '96

 

MarkC 15th May 2006 05:03 PM

 

Anne is my favourite of the Austen heroines - precisely because she is mature in outlook and has good sense, coupled with the feeling I always get when reading Persuasion that her passions run very deep, something that doesn't come across nearly as much with Lizzy or Emma. That's very subjective though and may even come from watching Amanda Root in P2 rather than from the novel itself.

Don't go watching the movie made in 1995. Although it's a good movie, it's not really sticking to the book everywhere and you might quote something and everyone knows you didn't read the book.

It is a very enjoyable film, despite deviating from the novel in places. Notably Mrs Smith seems permenantly drunk and her story is somewhat changed, I wonder if the screenwriter thought that viewers would not understand her knowing about Mr Elliot's character the whole time and not telling Anne, also I'm pretty sure CW never tells off Lady Russell at the Pump rooms in the book, though we might wish that he did.

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#16 15th May 2006, 06:03 PM

Momo

That's very subjective though and may even come from watching Amanda Root in P2 rather than from the novel itself.

It is a very enjoyable film, despite deviating from the novel in places.

I agree, the movie is quite good though I do understand the Swedish quote, as well. I think, Amanda Root is fabulous, she must have read the book beforehand (not every actor has, as I've heard several times).

I'm pretty sure CW never tells off Lady Russell at the Pump rooms in the book, though we might wish that he did.

Yeah, wishful thinking. Because movies have to be shorter and you don't have all the possibilities describing a character's reaction, they come across in a different way. I like the scene, where Anne and CW meet for the first time in the movie. It's marvellous, so descriptive, and yet without words.

 

I just advised Flingo not to watch the movie and then quote "the book". You can always tell if someone has only "watched" a novel, not read it. (I know Flingo read it but she said it's been a while and she doesn't remember everything, therefore the hint.)

 

#17 2nd August 2006, 04:31 PM

Tess

 

I finished Persuasion a few weeks ago and it was just wonderful! The Austen collection has been sat unread in my room for some time and so I've finally started to work my way through and so glad that I have. So far I've only read this and P&P but have to say that I prefer Persuasion, probably because I was unfamiliar with the story. I also watched the BBC adaptation after and really enjoyed that.

 

"You pierce my soul"

 

I'm definitely looking forward to reading some more Austen...

 

#18 2nd August 2006, 07:18 PM

Flingo

Persuasion is currently the Huge Hampshire Read.

I finished Persuasion a few weeks ago and it was just wonderful!

Just wondered if the Huge Hants Read influenced you, Tess - being a Hampshire lass and all? Have you posted on the Hants Libraries website about it? It has a very slow and empty forum, and could use a bit of intelligent, non-library staff input!

 

#19 3rd August 2006, 09:08 AM

Tess

Just wondered if the Huge Hants Read influenced you, Tess - being a Hampshire lass and all?

Yes it did, I wanted to read some more Austen and so chose this because of the Huge Hants Read. Has it been successful at all?

Have you posted on the Hants Libraries website about it? It has a very slow and empty forum, and could use a bit of intelligent, non-library staff input!

Flattery will get you everywhere! I'll try to post something later.

 

#20 8th September 2006, 07:42 PM

Cassandra_Mortmain

You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.

*swoons* Persuasion is the third Jane Austen novel I have read and I much prefer it to Mansfield Park, Anne Elliot is, in my opinion, a more convincing romantic heroine than Fanny Price. I didn't really find Mansfield Park all that romantic, Edmund spends far too much time pining after Mary Crawford before realising he actually loves Fanny. Frederick Wentworth is definitely more appealing!

 

#21 8th September 2006, 10:17 PM

Momo

My favourite quote, ever!

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Having read through the previous posts on this thread, I am very surprised to find that this is stated as so many peoples' favourite Austen book. I had previously assumed that as it featured much lower on 'The BBC Big Read' that it was a less popular novel than Pride and Prejudice.

 

I really did not enjoy reading Persuasion. It was next on my reading list in my, seemingly, never ending quest to read all the books on the Big Read list. I found the characters tiresome and the story monotonous. This is the fourth Jane Austen novel I have read, after Pride & Prejudice, Emma and Sense & Sensibility and is easily the one I have least appreciated.

Edited by Midas

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Well, there's no accounting for taste.

I have no 'favourite' Austen novel, I enjoy them all, however, I think that P&P is the most well known and often the first, maybe the only, Austen that many people read. That would give it an advantage when it comes to any poll for a favourite.

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I have read some of the posts regarding this novel and would hope that others will not be put off reading it because of some comments made.  Although not as famous as some of her characters I found Anne Elliot one of my favourites and was really glad that such a kind put upon person won through in the end.  My only wish was that she would stand up for herself a little more and not allow others to walk all over her as they tended to do.  Anne really is a character who has stayed with over the years and I have gone back to reread her story a number of times. 

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