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MR. BENNET AND THE FAILURES OF FATHERHOOD IN JANE AUSTEN'S NOVELS A. Bur gan, Indiana
In the few pronouncements about her art in her letters, Jane Austen outlined the main arguments social and political against attributing no theoretical to her work; she admitted preten having significance sions at all, claiming only accuracy and proportion and wit for her vir tues.1 once Despite again the her well-known of demurrers, subject in Jane I want Austen's in this essay to raise canvass problem novels?to
to social from a "sociological" point of view the nature of her response and economic in English society. My reason for sifting over the changes in the evidence is that I think an adjustment already finely ground view initiated by the author herself ought to be commonly accepted I want to push a bit against the impression made. that Jane Austen had insulated herself and her art from the social changes of her successfully remark that Jane Austen day.21 agree with the tenor of V. S. Pritchett's is a "war-novelist, formed very much by the Napoleonic wars, knowing of prize money, the shortage of men, the economic crisis and directly change in the value of capital."3
Pritchett's contention might be illustrated by a general analysis of the inMansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion, works social world described in the second decade of the nineteenth which were written century and remark to her brother about the "little bit (two Inches wide) famous *See Jane Austen's and the correspondence with James Stanier Clark of 11 of Ivory" on which she worked, as the source of her ignorance 1816 in which she proclaimed December 1815 and 1April to write ambitious historical her disinclination novels; Jane Austens Letters to her Sister and 452-53. Cassandra and Others, ed. R. W. Chapman (London, 1952), pp. 134, 442-43, 2The arguments that Jane Austen failed to cover a broad enough scope are too well in a general way to be listed here. The defenses which have helped my thinking known are those of David Daiches, and the Aristocratic The Karl Marx, Dance," "Jane Austen, An Aspect of American Scholar, D. W. Harding, Hatred: 17 (1948), 284-96; "Regulated and Donald indis 8 (1940), of Jane Austen," the Work 340-62; J. Greene's Scrutiny, recent de More 68 (1955), and the Peerage," PMLA, 1017-31. "Jane Austen pensible Kettle can finally defend social views tend to be qualified. Arnold fenses of Jane Austen's in over the fate of women of Jane Austen's and her concern Emma because pragmatism to the English Novel In The An Introduction rpt. New York, 1968), pp. 86?98. (1951; to Lawrence Williams (London, 1970; pp. 18-24), Raymond English Novel from Dickens who followed admires Jane Austen's steadiness of vision, but he thinks that the novelists its limited in from "social basis" her had to separate her "uncompromising morality" on the tradition. carrying and English Comedy 3V. S. Pritchett, (London, 1970), p. 35. George Meredith