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Reassessing Jane Eyre

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LoveHistory
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Postby LoveHistory » Tue August 24th, 2010, 8:29 pm

Diiarts, I don't think I misunderstood. And I actually do agree with M. M. Bennett on a number of points. Just not all of them. Elizabeth Bennet did not suddenly change her mind about Mr. Darcy because she found out how wealthy he was (she knew his income already), but because she realized that she had misjudged his character and he was a better man than she gave him credit for.

I also feel her assessment of Mr. Bennet is a bit harsh. But then we all infer different things when we read.

I do agree that it's not a romance. And I cringe whenever I see Jane Austen referred to as the originator of Chick Lit.

EC, I think you have an excellent point there. I don't think that far when I'm writing either. Perhaps Jane is laughing at this entire discussion. :)

M.M. Bennetts

Postby M.M. Bennetts » Tue August 24th, 2010, 8:54 pm

A couple of answers...pianoforte is a later term, just starting to come into use in the early 19th century. Mainly as a result of the 'engineering' developments in the instrument here in London, mainly. Broadwoods were certainly working to create a more versatile instrument, one that was better suited to the kind of music which was being composed--Beethoven, Field, etc.

The instrument in the house at Chawton is a fortepiano--much smaller keyboard, black keys, and that one has a very soft tone, so you might say, upon hearing it, that it's most unsuitable for Beethoven and the markings he regularly used in his work such as sforzando, though Mozart sounds rather better on it as do English folksongs.

The bill of sale for the family's household goods and the explanations having to do with it are framed and on the wall on the half-landing at the Austens' former home in Chawton.

As for Jane, and indeed Cassandra Austen's, sentiments about removing to Bath, that is all to be found in their letters to each other--though much has been purged (by themselves), their despair at being taken to Bath and forced to live there, when they hated it so very much in evidence. So much so that it is hard not to read Anne Eliot's comments on the subject to be Austen speaking as herself.

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Diiarts
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Postby Diiarts » Tue August 24th, 2010, 9:20 pm

@LoveHistory: couldn't agree with you more about chick lit! I happen to agree with MMB about Mr Bennet, but one of the beauties of a decent novel is that one can read different things into it.

@EC2: Did Charlotte Bronte really think all that analytical stuff when she was writing? Of course she did. She was a clergyman's daughter living in a rural parsonage in the mid-nineteenth century, and she was writing a book that stands at least two of the Ten Commandments on their head - and somehow getting the reader to condone it. Revolutionary stuff.

Does it matter? Does anybody care? I suspect it depends on what the author is trying to achieve. When we founded Diiarts, one of our ambitions for our HF list was to publish the best written and the best researched literary historical fiction we could find - books which would take the reader right into the heart of an era and help them understand what made it tick. At the very least, we wanted to publish nothing that would perpetuate a misconception of the era in which it is set.

So for us, that analysis and understanding of what makes a society tick is paramount to the telling of a good story. The kind of analysis and understanding that underpins, say, Patrick O'Brian, Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, Charles Palliser's The Quincunx, and of course the gold standard - the peerless Dorothy Dunnett.
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EC2
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Postby EC2 » Tue August 24th, 2010, 9:24 pm

"Diiarts" wrote:@

@EC2: Did Charlotte Bronte really think all that analytical stuff when she was writing? Of course she did. She was a clergyman's daughter living in a rural parsonage in the mid-nineteenth century, and she was writing a book that stands at least two of the Ten Commandments on their head - and somehow getting the reader to condone it. Revolutionary stuff.



Nope,sorry, still disagree with you. :)
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

M.M. Bennetts

Postby M.M. Bennetts » Tue August 24th, 2010, 9:30 pm

I would agree with EC2 though too. The thing is, the reason we still read Bronte, is not for the moral questions she raises, but because she wrote a stonking good story.

It's the whole question of improving literature. Those two words together are about as appealing as these two: cold porridge.

An author can be the most erudite, well-researched, profound, whatever, writer, but if he/she can't put it in a format that's swallow-able, forget it. No one will read it--unless compelled.

And that, in a nutshell, is the great gift of good historical fiction. The author does the hard work, the reader reads a ripping great book. And something of all that author's accrued knowledge will stick.

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Michy
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Postby Michy » Wed August 25th, 2010, 12:47 am

"M.M. Bennetts" wrote:The instrument in the house at Chawton is a fortepiano--much smaller keyboard, black keys, and that one has a very soft tone


I'm glad I asked about it! I learned something! And the fact that the name is switched -- fortepiano rather than pianoforte -- makes sense given that it had a softer tone than a modern piano.

"EC2" wrote:Nope,sorry, still disagree with you. :)


I think I'm with EC2 on this one. I can only speak as a reader, not a writer, but whenever I've been involved in in-depth anaylsis of literature (such as in school), or even when just reading many of the forewards to books that seek to psychoanalyze the book, I have often thought "Did the author really think of all this subconscious symbolism when they were writing?!" I think that often they didn't, and that we readers interpret more into a book than what the author intended. But..... if a book provides fodder for such in-depth analysis that indicates, I think, that it is a well-written book. Whether the analysis is correct or not. :) And that IS what the author intended!!!

As an example -- I just pulled my copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz off the shelf (for another reason), and there is a 17-page introduction at the beginning that does an in-depth analysis of the book. Did Baum really have all that in mind as he was writing? I doubt it; I think he just wanted to write an engaging and entertaining story!

Incidentally, I think the same can sometimes be said for other types of art, as well, such as painting and music. Those who "appreciate" and analyze the art form can interpret and read things into it that the artist wasn't necessarily thinking of.
Last edited by Michy on Wed August 25th, 2010, 3:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Margaret
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Postby Margaret » Thu August 26th, 2010, 11:23 pm

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......


Just off the top of my head, I think both terms were probably used. "Forte" means "loud" in Italian and "piano" soft, and pianos were called this because, unlike harpsichords, claviers, etc., which used a mechanism to pluck the strings, the hammer mechanism in pianos meant one could get both soft and loud notes by striking the piano's keys softer or harder. Essentially, the name means a "soft-loud", and it wouldn't really matter if you called it a "soft-loud" or a "loud-soft."
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

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Michy
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Location: California

Postby Michy » Fri August 27th, 2010, 2:49 am

As M.M. Bennett explained further up in this thread, they actually were two slightly different instruments.

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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 » Fri September 3rd, 2010, 4:41 pm

Aha, missed that, Michy - thanks for pointing it out.

pianoforte is a later term, just starting to come into use in the early 19th century. Mainly as a result of the 'engineering' developments in the instrument here in London, mainly. Broadwoods were certainly working to create a more versatile instrument, one that was better suited to the kind of music which was being composed--Beethoven, Field, etc.

The instrument in the house at Chawton is a fortepiano--much smaller keyboard, black keys, and that one has a very soft tone, so you might say, upon hearing it, that it's most unsuitable for Beethoven and the markings he regularly used in his work such as sforzando, though Mozart sounds rather better on it as do English folksongs.
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

M.M. Bennetts

Postby M.M. Bennetts » Fri September 3rd, 2010, 8:55 pm

And for a little known fact of doubtful value: the fortepiano in Jane Austen's House is a spinet fortepiano. Which produces a very soft sound indeed.


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