January 11, 2005
Ch. 1 "Limitations and Definitions"
Some interesting passages from the Stuart Tave book (Some Words About Jane Austen, ISBN 0226790177, 1973):
A correct knowledge of geography - to know where one is - and tranquillity of the right sort - to live satisfactorily where one is - seem to be related virtues; both, if they come, come as earned acquisitions, in time....With varying degrees of foolishness and awareness there are many characters in Jane Austen who...reshape the space and time they inhabit to make it a creation of their own wishes. (Tave, p. 4)and
Time and space in Jane Austen are not what a reader raised on twentieth-century literature is likely to assume they must be by nature. They are not problematic or oppressive. They are not puzzling mysteries and they are not impositions upon the human spirit to be rebelled against or transcended. On the contrary, they have coherence and help give shape to human life; they are there to be used or abused. If they seem to simplify life they do not make it easier, because they allow no cosmic excuses. They are limited and must be understood, but the limits set the conditions within which action must be taken, here and now or not at all, and it is the ability to act with rectitude and grace under those inescapable conditions that distinguishes among human beings. (id., p.6)and also:
To be unable to stay in one place, to be restless, is to have an unsettled mind. (id.)On Maria Bertram, in Mansfield Park:
There is no condition that can satisfy Maria because she has never learned in time, has never been taught, to accept those limiting conditions which are unavoidable and to which she must shape herself; if she were able to look within herself she could find sufficient space for the largest action, for the finest restraint." (id., p.8)