A Fine Brush on Ivory: An Appreciation of Jane Austen by Richard Jenkyns

By Richard Jenkyns

Jane Austen's paintings was once a real triumph of the comedian spirit--of deep comedy, emerging from the center of human existence. In A advantageous Brush on Ivory, Richard Jenkyns takes us on an amiable journey of Austen's fictional international, commencing a window on the various nice works of global literature. Focusing mostly on Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma, yet with many diverting aspect journeys to Austen's different novels, Jenkyns shines a loving mild at the beautiful craftsmanship and profound ethical mind's eye that informs her writing. Readers will locate, for example, a superb dialogue of characterization in Austen. Jenkyns's perception into figures akin to Mr. Bennett or Mrs. Norris is brilliant--particularly his portrait of the fun, shrewdpermanent, consistently ironic Mr. Bennett, whose humor (Jenkyns indicates) arises out of a deeply unsatisfied and disappointing marriage. the writer can pay due homage to Austen's unrivaled ability with advanced plotting--the attractiveness with which the first plot and many of the subplots are woven together--highlighting the endless care she took to make every one plot element as ordinary and as believable as attainable. probably most crucial, Jenkyns illuminates the guts of Austen's ethical mind's eye: she is continually conscious, all through her works, of the nearness of evil to the cozy social floor. She understands that the socially applicable sins will be actually merciless and harsh, is aware that society could be purple in the teeth and claw, and but she permits the pleasures of comedy and social gathering to subordinate them. Insightful and hugely pleasing, A positive Brush on Ivory captures the spirit and originality of Jane Austen's paintings. will probably be a adored souvenir or reward for her many enthusiasts.

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Additional resources for A Fine Brush on Ivory: An Appreciation of Jane Austen

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But it must be conceded that the awkwardness within Sense and Sensibility cannot all be attributed to an aesthetic and a moral standpoint which have been consciously chosen; the author does not seem to have the working-out of her story perfectly under control. A common view is that she started with a scheme (roughly, Sense right, Sensibility wrong) which proved in the end too rigid; on this account, Sense and Sensibility belongs with such works as Cosifan tutte, Trimalchio's dinner in Petronius, and perhaps The Merchant of Venice, where we can see, or may suspect, that the creator's imaginative vitality has overridden a formally or morally simple scheme to produce something more complex and ambivalent.

More romantic and poignant was Jane's first cousin Eliza Hancock, born in India, possibly the natural daughter of Warren Hastings. Pretty, witty, and good-natured, she married a French count, who was guillotined in the Terror. Back in London she struggled to look after her sickly son, an only child who died at the age of 15. She was married again, to Jane's brother Henry, but died painfully of cancer. Now there was someone much more obviously 'born to be a heroine' than any of the actual leading ladies in Jane Austen's books.

Lord Bolton, who received his title in 1795, was a north-countryman of very modest origins who had come into money by marrying the bastard daughter of a duke. Lord Dorchester was an Irishman who had done brilliantly as a soldier in Canada, and prudently by finding an earl's daughter for his wife. Far more extraordinary was the Earl of Portsmouth. As a child, a few years before Jane Austen's birth, he had spent a few months under her parents' roof as a 23 THE SHAPE OF COMEDY pupil at the little school that they ran from their parsonage, and been the playmate of their elder children.

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