[personal profile] zalena
A very nice essay about Jane Austen as a didactic moralist FTW -

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_completist/2013/04/jane_austen_books_ranked_and_reconsidered_from_emma_to_persuasion.html

It's been a very long time since I've written an Austen essay (I am especially fond of my defense of Mansfield Park, a novel that I actually dislike). I still love Persuasion the most, though I think Waldman is correct in her criticisms. And I suspect Emma is her "best" novel, though I can never get over my dislike of the protagonist.

My theory on Austen is that her moralism is actually what makes her great. She is expression, for the first time, in novel format, the way young women were adopting philosophy into their lives.

Waldman comes perilously close to another essay I would like to write, 'In Praise of Didacticism' in which I'd like to take apart the fact that in spite of saying that we hate it, this is expected and novels that lack it (say Dangerous Liaisons) are frequently those that come up for censure.

Also, one of these days I have got to write something about Madame Bovary. In fact, I frequently feel Madame Bovary as well as House of Mirth are due for an update. They strike me as very NOW kind of books in their discussion of moral, social & economic bankruptcy.

Date: 2013-04-05 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dr-tectonic.livejournal.com
I think you're totally right about didacticism. A good story says "here's the way the world works / is supposed to work" and shows all the pieces fitting together neatly.

What people object to is *BAD* didacticism, where the author's done a poor job of integrating that information into the story in an entertaining and digestible way.

Date: 2013-04-07 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zalena.livejournal.com
I suspect I am of the school that everything is teaching you something. What and how are always up for question. But I'm going to have to think through that statement and see if I can defend it.

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zalena

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