Monday, April 14, 2008

Love that Austen

"Conversation however was not wanted, for Sir John was very chatty, and Lady Middleton had taken the wise precaution of bringing with her their eldest child, a fine little boy about six years old, by which means there was one subject always to be recurred to by the ladies in case of extremity, for they had to inquire his name and age, admire his beauty, and ask him question which his mother answered for him, while he hung about her and held down his head, to the great surprise of her ladyship, who wondered at his being so shy before company as he could make noise enough at home. On every formal visit a child aught to be of the party, by way of provision for discourse. In the present case it took up to ten minutes to determine whether the boy were most like his father or mother, and in what particular he resembled either, for of course every body differed, and every body was astonished at the opinion of the others." (Sense and Sensibility, Vol. I Ch.VI)

I was reading Sense and Sensibility last night and I just couldn't help but laugh out loud as I was reading this and other passages. Most people think of Austen as a romance novelist and don't realize that she was, among other things, a satirical genius. She would tease and laugh at the very people that read her novels. She was able to laugh at her own way of life. This particular paragraph made me laugh so much because I have seen this exact scene played out in my own life and chances are you have too. Thank you Miss Austen.


Wendy said...

Oh my gosh, that is so true. I cannot tell you how many rounds of "Who do you think she looks like?" we endure every time we take Jules anywhere. WHO CARES, PEOPLE? you see who you want to see. She is half me and half him, so just pick one.

This is the first time anything has ever made me interested in reading Jane Austen, so huzzah to you, Kelly. Huzzah.

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Annie said...

Kelly, your post is likeable!

Um... you aren't referring to my children, are you? You probably are.

Sue said...

I adore Jane Austen. She really was a genius - she really saw and understood human nature, and was so keenly observant. Her books are a gift. I don't think people should be able to call themselves readers until they've read Austen.

Kelly said...

Annie, I wasn't talking about any child(ren) in particular but just think of every awkward bridal/baby shower you've gone to and if there was a baby or young child present, I guarantee it was the topic of conversation for at least ten minutes.

Wendy, It's the narrators running commentary that is funny. The characters generally speaking, aren't very funny with a few exceptions but the authorial voice is pretty sarcastic, as least as far as 19th century authors go.

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