Sunday, March 31, 2019

Persuasion by Jane Austen

"Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything."
—Anne Elliot, Persuasion

Next to the greatly beloved Pride And Prejudice, I believe that Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. It tugs at my heart and draws my empathy in a way that not even Pride And Prejudice — with its emotional moments, masterful pacing and plot pivots can do.

Anne Elliot’s heart, hopes and history have a place in all of us. Wonderful possibilities that have slipped through our fingers. Misplaced counsel from a beloved friend. The feeling of being left out in a world that seems moving forward without us. A past love that we cannot seem to relinquish, but who lives on in our hearts, however impossibly.

Powerful second chances rarely come. But the question is - what if they do?

All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one; you need not covet it) is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone.
—Anne Elliot, Persuasion

The first edition of Persuasion was co-published with Northanger Abbey in December of 1817, just six months after the death of Jane Austen. It was her last fully completed work and although short, has been declared by many fans over the years to be her strongest and most powerful novel.

Setting plays an important role in Persuasion. There are four - Kellynch, Uppercross, Bath and Lyme Regis - but it’s the Lyme Regis setting that is the most memorable. The famous Cobb becomes a significant place in this work - so famous in reference to Jane Austen’s Persuasion that it is said that when Alfred, Lord Tennyson visited Lyme in 1867, he insisted on visiting the Cobb first off to be shown the steps “from which Louisa Musgrove fell”.

There is no explanation for why the harbor structure of Lyme Regis is called the Cobb but it is thought to date back to at least 1313. A half-moon-shaped breakwater protecting the town of Lyme Regis and creating an artificial harbor, it played an important part in the development and flourishing of the town through its early years. The Austens vacationed at various seaside resorts in Devon and Dorset and Lyme was certainly among the places visited. Jane herself walked the Cobb, bathed in the sea and gathered a wealth of inspirations and fertile descriptions from the area.

The first time that I read Persuasion, I was appalled at how little consideration Anne’s own family members had for her. I inwardly rolled my eyes and gave the occasional long sigh in exasperation, wondering when Anne was going to reach the end of her tether and push back on the selfish attitudes that beleaguered her. But there is a long-enduring patience to Anne's character and a deep and matured willingness to be kind and helpful that prevails over all of her relationships. She may have had an ineffectual early start to her life — buffeted by winds of prejudice or ill-advice — but she has grown in her perspective as our novel starts.

"When pain is over, the remembrance of it often becomes a pleasure."
—Anne Elliot, Persuasion

An enduring response to Anne Elliot and Persuasion continues to be her oppressive restriction within social class, gender, manners & social requirements. The world in which she lives, breathes and feels is small and restricted. The snobbish restrictions of her family — who resist the upward movement of prosperous members of commerce and the navy into better stations of life and more advantageous positions — are stymied in the social significance of their class. Anne’s father studies the baronetage publications and believes himself superior despite the fact he has cannot manage the estate’s remaining finances and fails to value the superior qualities of the best people in his life.

It was a heartiness, and a warmth, and a sincerity which Anne delighted in the more, from the sad want of such blessings at home.
—Narrator, Persuasion

We continue with our beloved Jane Austen with our Spring Book Breakfast choice of Persuasion. by Jane Austen.  We will be discussing this book on Saturday, April 27th, 2019.

You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.
—Captain Frederick Wentworth, Persuasion

No comments:

Post a Comment