Comments on: Sunday round-up: friends & neighbors edition http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/16/sunday-round-up-friends-neighbors-edition/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:41:03 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Perpetua http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/16/sunday-round-up-friends-neighbors-edition/comment-page-1/#comment-889763 Mon, 17 Oct 2011 15:01:08 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16930#comment-889763 @CDS & Historiann: I don’t think the comparison was pushed too far. Part of it has to do with how we define and understand friendship. CDS mentions the idea of “confiding” in some one as evidence for close friendship. That is certainly true by modern standards, and but it doesn’t really work as a litmus test in Austen’s world. Austen’s characters are forever keeping things from each other; *privacy* of emotion and conflict, as well as communicating information indirectly, are key to the society she describes. Lucy in Sense and Sensibility is immediately suspect because she pours out her life story to a virtual stranger; she is “vulgar”. Remember this is the same plot wherein no one can ask Marianne whether or not she’s engaged because it’s viewed as indelicate or pushy. So even among the people you’re closest to, you don’t necessarily tell them everything, especially very personal things. My point is that friendship is constructed differently in Austen’s world than in ours; in my view, her books are full of friends and close relations (primarily though not exclusively women). And they (the heroines) are isolated, too, but that’s a significant component of Austen’s universe – women cannot travel, they live in small communities, they have fewer people in their lives. Have you ever heard Emma Thompson’s wonderful commentary on Sense and Sensibility? (On the DVD) She says she realized while making the movie how horribly stuck the women were. They just had to sit in the drawing room and wait while the world came to them. They lived in small worlds. They kept their own counsel while still maintaining close friendships.

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By: Linden http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/16/sunday-round-up-friends-neighbors-edition/comment-page-1/#comment-889760 Mon, 17 Oct 2011 14:55:55 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16930#comment-889760 Elizabeth Bennett’s best friend is Charlotte Lucas. We don’t see much of their relationship in the book, but it is implied that up until the events of the book, they were close friends. I’ve always thought their relationship was an interesting portrayal of how you can grow apart from a friend without even noticing until something stressful comes up.

Elinor and Elizabeth don’t confide as much in their sisters as their sisters confide in them, but this is because of aspects of their personalities. Both of them eventually regret not being more open.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/16/sunday-round-up-friends-neighbors-edition/comment-page-1/#comment-889752 Mon, 17 Oct 2011 14:42:23 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16930#comment-889752 Thanks, Canuck. Perhaps Barkhorn pushed the comparison to highlight the absence of female friendship in Eugenides’s book a little too far. I’ll have to check out the library codex version of his book in order to evaluate Barkhorn’s comparison.

Still, I thought it was an interesting point about the absence of women’s friendships in contemporary books and films (especially vis-a-vis the Bechdel Test.)

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By: Canuck Down South http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/16/sunday-round-up-friends-neighbors-edition/comment-page-1/#comment-889568 Mon, 17 Oct 2011 06:07:19 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16930#comment-889568 Okay, I’ve read the whole Barkhorn essay now–and I certainly have a different reading that she does of Austen and the Brontes: Jane Eyre’s childhood friend Helen is dead by the second part of the 3-part book; Elizabeth Bennett and Elinor Dashwood don’t confide much in their close relationships with their sisters (though the sisters confide in them); and, though, as you say, Anne Elliot is surrounded by people, she confides in no one (other characters appear to consider her a closer friend that she considers them to be). But, as you say, Historiann, YMMV…especially when discussing literature at this time of a Sunday night.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/16/sunday-round-up-friends-neighbors-edition/comment-page-1/#comment-889509 Mon, 17 Oct 2011 03:49:39 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16930#comment-889509 Read the whole Barkhorn essay, Canuck Down South. There are friends aplenty compared to her reading of Eugenides’s Madeline. (I haven’t read the book to compare them, and YMMV.)

As I recall, Anne Elliott has a lot of friends in Persuasion–but the book is marked by her feeling that life has moved on for them in ways that it hasn’t for her.

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By: Canuck Down South http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/16/sunday-round-up-friends-neighbors-edition/comment-page-1/#comment-889507 Mon, 17 Oct 2011 03:43:13 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16930#comment-889507 Wait a sec…if my memory serves me, in those “traditional” marriage plot books you mention–Austen, the Brontes–the heroines don’t really have any friends. In Austen’s books, Fanny Price and Anne Elliot are very isolated (though Anne has an older mentor, she doesn’t figure largely in the book as a character–more as a plot device); Elinor Dashwood and Elizabeth Bennett have close (but complicated) relationships with only one sister; Jane Eyre is remarkably, almost entirely, isolated. I haven’t read Eugenides, but maybe by making his heroine largely friendless, he’s picking up on an older generic feature of 19th-century marriage plot books?

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/16/sunday-round-up-friends-neighbors-edition/comment-page-1/#comment-889450 Mon, 17 Oct 2011 01:11:54 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16930#comment-889450 Some Austen scholar (a guy) gave this book a sort of B- grade in the NYT book review today, attributing its character developmental shortcomings mostly to generational issues among a (male) authorial cohort, but this triangulates interestingly with the only two things I learned about the book today, a) in said review (sample sentence): ” ‘They didn’t once ask if she had a boyfriend,’ Madeleine happily thinks about a couple of fellow aspirants who befriend her at an academic conference–yet it is all the novel asks.” And, b) an endpaper essay about the 1980s critical climate at Brown that supplies another sample sentence: “When Madeleine asked what the book was about [Derrida], she was given to understand by [her friend] Whitney that the idea of a book being ‘about’ something was exactly what this book was against, and that, if it was ‘about’ anything, then it was about the need to stop thinking of books as being about things…” Sooo, maybe the missing “friends” got lost in Ivy League theory-space? Just wondering.

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By: quixote http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/16/sunday-round-up-friends-neighbors-edition/comment-page-1/#comment-889380 Sun, 16 Oct 2011 23:15:49 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16930#comment-889380 Gaa! Historiann! That comment. Don’t give them ideas! It’ll be on Drudge in 3… 2… 1…

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/16/sunday-round-up-friends-neighbors-edition/comment-page-1/#comment-889354 Sun, 16 Oct 2011 22:29:59 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16930#comment-889354 Susan, you know there’s a close relationship between an evangelical Christian background and belief that one has been abducted & probed by space aliens? So maybe that’s what the Perrys mean when they speak of being “brutalized?” (Or maybe this is something that Huntsman, Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and the other non-evangelical Protestant candidates should start talking up as a reason to fear evangelical Protestants–they’re prey to a Manchurian Candidate scenario, only with space aliens!)

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By: Susan http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/16/sunday-round-up-friends-neighbors-edition/comment-page-1/#comment-889333 Sun, 16 Oct 2011 21:32:12 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16930#comment-889333 Gee, I though Perry was brutalized because he didn’t know what he was talking about. Is *that* what it means to be Christian?

In my former job I would occasionally meet students who claimed to have MPD, and were therapists treating others; I came to think that MPD was a way of talking about shadow sides of the self, to use the Jungian language. Even creepier were the people who’d been abducted by aliens. It did make their lives more interesting, though!

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