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JANE AUSTEN [Maimoona Iraq] As a woman of exquisite style and cultivated manners, Jane Austen was the zeitgeist of the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century. Her literary panorama includes novels like Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Persuasion, Mansfield Park together with North anger Abbey. Her novels are called tea-table romances owing to the ordinary commonplace events in them. Her picture of life is a delicate watercolor to put beside the more vigorous oil painting of Fielding. The novel which in the hands of Richardson and Fielding had been a faithful record of real life and of the working of heart and imagination became in the closing years of eighteenth century, the literature of crime, insanity and terror. It, therefore needed castigation and Jane Austen did the needful.
She brought good sense and balance to the English Novel, which during the Romantic Age had become too emotional and undisciplined. She refined and simplified English Novel, making it a true reflection of English life, in which people do little more than talk to one another about their trivial interests. During the time of great turmoil and revolution in various fields, she quietly went on with her work, contenting herself with meager remuneration. She is one of the sincerest examples in English Literature of art for arts sake.
She had an acute power of observation that the simple country people of her own surroundings became the dramatis personae of her novels. Her painting of life has a Chinese fidelity and a miniature delicacy. Jane Austen was a realist. Her realism makes her think it foolish to worry about evils one cannot prevent. Like Chaucer and Shakespeare she accepts the law of nature. Miss Austen's world has been called as two-inches of ivory or ivory towered.
She told almost the same story in all her novels, but she never repeated herself. Each of her books is distinguished from the other by important individual difference. Her compass of novels is not wide but within it she never fails. She is mistress of much deeper emotions than appears on the surface. Jane Austen's novels are psychologically planned and logically constructed. Her characters are solid three-dimensional figures that can be looked at from several sides.
Within her limited premises, Jane Austen's art is perfect. She handles, characters and events, dialogues and plot with dexterity, fusing all the elements of novel into one, weaving and interweaving them so fine, that no loose loop can be traced. That young lady had a talent of describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life in the most truthful manner. The gloss and aura renders customary commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of description and sentiment. She was a precious genius, in her style, in her humor and in her power of observation.
Her detractors protested by saying that a drab scenery, the worse for use, a thin plot unfashionably cut, by trimming, relining and turning made to do duty for five or six novels, a dozen or so stock characters, these are Jane Austen's materials. But one can easily justify such accusations. Jane Austen's settings are drawing rooms, ball rooms, parks and gardens of a civilized leisured class. She is unable to introduce lunatics, villains and ghostly figures in her characters. These materials are apparently trivial but the ultimate impression that she creates through them is simplex minditiis. She did not concern herself with social problems.
Her novels are pure entertainment. No matter if you are tired and dispirited, Jane Austen enchants. Infact, what she does she does well, perhaps better than anyone though of course we all know that there is so much more to life and to literature than this.
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