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Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Jane Austen's Persuasion

What does persuasion mean - a firm belief, or the action of persuading someone to think something else? Anne Elliot is one of Austen's quietest heroines, but also one of the strongest and the most open to change. She lives at the time of the Napoleonic wars, a time of accident, adventure, the making of new fortunes and alliances.

A woman of no importance, she manoeuvres in her restricted circumstances as her long-time love Captain Wentworth did in the wars. Even though she is nearly thirty, well past the sell-by bloom of youth, Austen makes her win out for herself and for others like herself, in a regenerated society.” (Wordworths Classics edition cover)

Why did I start reading Jane Austen’s Persuasion? It all started with Lake House. I’ve seen the movie and the book is an important part of it. A story of waiting for the right moment talking of a book built on the same idea. I was curious, so when I saw it on a shelf of a bookstore, I took it home with me.

Published in 1817, after Jane Austen’s death, Persuasion is not a long novel, although the impatience for the story end might make it seem never-ending. It is a story of waiting patiently, hidden away from the world, for the moment when your heart will be finally filled with an unworldly happiness. Waiting when all hope is gone.

Anne Elliot, the books heroin, is a gentle, kind, loving creature. All her qualities are better spotlighted when compared with her two frivol, pride and limited sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, and even more when faced with her father’s character, a man of extreme vanity and values limited to rank.

Anne has given up her engagement to Captain Wentworth 8 years ago, as her family disapproved of their attachment and an older friend of hers (previously of her mother's who had died) advises her against such a marriage. The present financial circumstances of her family bring her close to Captain Wentworth again, as his sister and her husband will rent to home of the Elliots.

After eight years of waiting, Anne has to keep waiting silently as hurt pride, confusion and other ironies of life will prevent the two from being happy together. But when they finally reach the bond that has been postponed for so long, all is hastily settled. It seems to be happening a little bit too fast given how cold and few the previous encounters over almost a year have been. But after waiting for 8 and half years, I guess there really is no other way…

I wonder if such a story is possible today. Loving the same person for so long although he/she is not near, not in reach, not in news’ reach. Would that really be possible in the speed-light world of today? Eight years are now enough to meet someone, get married, have children, divorce and start a new relationship. A long distance relationship with a great degree of certainty (compared to just hoping for a miracle) has little chance of persistence…

Is the cause the hyperactivity we are caught in? Or the change of heart over “one love, only one, forever…”?

Tags: Books, Book Reviews, Austen, Jane Austen, Persuasion
posted by Alina @ 9:47 AM  
  • At 10/03/2006 1:05 PM, Blogger Alina said…

    This book is Austen's last completed novel. As so often in Austen's
    novels, Persuasion concerns the social issues of her time and
    particularly the matter of class. I like its story of romance between
    Anne who meets the novel's hero, Captain Wentworth and in spite of
    social barriers and the rival Musgrove sisters - Louisa and Henrietta
    - pursues his affection having once turned him down as a spouse.
    Accidents and various engagements ensue leading to what the reader
    hopes will be another finale of poetic justice and requited love.

    BTW, what a coincident that I have post on hypocrisy by Safiyya Ally
    on Light Within.

    Comment emailed by Shirazi

  • At 10/03/2006 1:05 PM, Blogger Alina said…

    Shi, I think the more amazing thing is she does not really compete with the Musgroves...She just watches it all, trying to understand Wentworth's reaction while spending time with them.

  • At 10/04/2006 2:33 AM, Blogger Cristina Banu said…

    I think nowadays people have a more pragmatical way of thinking: better to do what's best for oneself. This implies of course that there are more than 1 loves, that we will not wait for 8 years just to be hurt. This way of thinking has probably something to do also with the hiperactivity you mentioned.
    BTW: Can you lend me the book? :) I'd like to read it too, this post made me curious.

  • At 10/04/2006 9:21 AM, Blogger Alina said…

    Sure Cris, I'll bring it to you on friday, at our aerobics class :)

  • At 10/04/2006 10:46 AM, Blogger Ryan said…

    Hiperactivity and all, the world is still not lost to the age of speed. I personally know a couple that met in high-school and although they seemed perfect for each other, never got together because of all sorts of obstacles. So after about three years of barriers, they decided they would wait until they are both 30, which was more than 10 years from then. Meanwhile they go on with their lifes, each one of them has a (disastrous) relationship at the moment, but their bond never weakend, and it doesn't seem either that it will sometime soon. How's that for persuasion? :) (I for one just can't wait and would like to be able to fast-forward to then, see how it all turns up)

  • At 10/04/2006 1:12 PM, Blogger Alina said…

    Ryan, this seems to be a persistent bond. However, there is a great difference. The type of waiting I described also implied no other relatiionships on the side for more than 8 years.

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Name: Alina
Home: Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania
About Me: "This is my church. This is where I heal my hurts". It's also where I feel free and my preferred means of expression.
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