Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Reassessing Jane Eyre

User avatar
Diiarts
Scribbler
Location: I'm based in Hampshire (UK) but we also have a partner based in Kentucky, USA
Contact:

Reassessing Jane Eyre

Postby Diiarts » Mon August 23rd, 2010, 8:03 pm

I thought I'd share this blog post by one of our authors - the always thought-provoking M.M. Bennetts.
www.diiarts.com - books for people who love books

User avatar
MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon August 23rd, 2010, 8:36 pm

Good article. You know, I never thought about Jane Eyre that way. What was shocking and revolutionary in Victorian times has become standard 'not-what-you-think' plotting in modern fiction.

User avatar
Diiarts
Scribbler
Location: I'm based in Hampshire (UK) but we also have a partner based in Kentucky, USA
Contact:

Postby Diiarts » Mon August 23rd, 2010, 8:52 pm

Try this one, MLE - Bennetts on Pride and Prejudice. It created quite an impressive cat/pigeon interface when it was posted...
www.diiarts.com - books for people who love books

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Tue August 24th, 2010, 5:14 am

Wow - I'm going to have to start following this blog. Two fantastic posts that deepened my appreciation of both novels.

And this bit almost made me cry:

A most poignant thing is the bill of auction on the wall at Austen’s home in Chawton. Her parents listed her beloved fortepiano for sale without telling her or asking her about it. That’s how straitened were their finances, that’s how much she was considered no more than chattel to them.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Tue August 24th, 2010, 2:30 pm

Yes, the blogger is right on with what has made Jane Eyre such a timeless and enduring classic: not just that it is a great Gothic tale, but that it is full of juxtapositions and contradictions that pull on your "heart" and against your "head." At least, that is the way it is for me and has been since I first read the book as a very young girl. This is why the book has been a lifelong favorite, one I never tire of no matter how many times I've read it or heard it (I have an excellent audio version).

I've never been a fan of Jane Austen's works, so I can't comment on that one. However, I am currently givine Pride and Prejudice a second try. Who knows, maybe it will spark more for me this time.
Last edited by Michy on Tue August 24th, 2010, 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
LoveHistory
Bibliomaniac
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Contact:

Postby LoveHistory » Tue August 24th, 2010, 3:53 pm

I agree completely with M.M. Bennett on Jane Eyre, but disagree on several points when it comes to Pride & Prejudice. She needs to read P&P again.

Jane's father at least did not consider her chattel. If he had, he never would have spent the money to buy her paper for her writing. Sometimes sentiment must be sacrificed for purposes of survival, but Rev. Austen made sure Jane could still indulge her greatest passion and brilliance.

User avatar
Diiarts
Scribbler
Location: I'm based in Hampshire (UK) but we also have a partner based in Kentucky, USA
Contact:

Postby Diiarts » Tue August 24th, 2010, 7:10 pm

@LoveHistory: I think your comment may be based on a misunderstanding of 'chattel'. It simply means 'personal property' and does not automatically connote any kind of mistreatment or any lack of affection. (I know it was used as an inflammatory term by abolitionists in both the US and the UK, but their usage is by no means its whole meaning.)

One can consider someone chattel and still indulge them. We do it to our pets all the time. But we don't ask our pets their opinion of our decisions or actions.

The point in the blog wasn't that Austen sold Jane's fortepiano - it was that he did so without telling her. It was his property, in his household, and his to dispose of without reference to anyone else.

If one is going to try to draw any inference from JA's writings about her relationship with her father, the overwhelming conclusion must be that it was, at the very least, an unhappy one. Look at the father figures throughout her work - Mr Bennet, old Mr Dashwood, Sir Walter Elliot, General Tilney, Mr Woodhouse, Sir Thomas Bertram - they range from idle and self-absorbed to downright vicious. And there is a consistent theme throughout of fathers failing to provide adequately for their womenfolk. That's got to tell us something, surely.

Sorry if this is a rant; I've spent years being irritated by badly researched, badly written "adaptations" of books, which ignore historical fact and therefore completely miss the point (the Keira Knightley film is my particular bete noir in this regard), and I cheered loudly when Bennetts posted this blog. It's right on the money.
www.diiarts.com - books for people who love books

User avatar
Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Tue August 24th, 2010, 7:42 pm

"Diiarts" wrote:The point in the blog wasn't that Austen sold Jane's fortepiano


Incidentally -- I noticed this also in an earlier post in this thread -- shouldn't that be "pianoforte" (our modern word piano is a shortened form) rather than "fortepiano?" Or are you speaking of a different type of instrument altogether? I've just never heard of a fortepiano......

User avatar
boswellbaxter
Bibliomaniac
Location: North Carolina
Contact:

Postby boswellbaxter » Tue August 24th, 2010, 8:09 pm

Just out of curiosity, how do we know that Jane's parents sold her pianoforte without consulting her? Is there a letter that states this?

In any case, I'm not sure that his selling it without telling her (assuming that he did this) necessarily means that he had little regard for his daughter's feelings. He could have been ashamed of having to sell it, for instance.
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles


http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/
http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/blog/

User avatar
EC2
Bibliomaniac
Location: Nottingham UK
Contact:

Postby EC2 » Tue August 24th, 2010, 8:15 pm

I did enjoy the post and it was food for thought, but I have to ask: Do authors really think all this analytical stuff when writing? I know I don't! I just set out to tell a good story.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com


Return to “Classics”