Thursday, February 2, 2012

Persuasion by Jane Austen


Persuasion

“My idea of good company...is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.'
'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company, that is the best.”
 

 


Persuasion
by Jane Austen
first published:  1818
my edition published by:  penguin Classics
my edition published in 1998
format: paperback
pages: 236


Read for: A Classics Challenge, 2012 TBR Pile Challenge
Finished Reading: January 20, 2012


Back Cover:At twenty-seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.



First Sentence:
Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch-hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited  remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs, changed naturally into pity and contempt.



My Thoughts: I am a Pride & Prejudice fan, but I would not call myself a Jane Austen fan.  I have tried to love others works by her, but failed miserable in the effort with Emma, and The Northanger Abbey.  They were such bombs for me that I was really left with no hope of liking any more stories by the beloved author of many.  Still, I had Persuasion sitting on my shelf for a very long time, unread. And, I did decide to participate in the Classic Challenge.  So, why not read Persuasion for the Classic challenge AND add it to my TBR Pile Challenge?  Good idea, Deanna...and so I did. Those two motivators pushed me forward to opening the pages of this book. I am glad that I was nudge forward, because I wound up thinking this story was “most excellent.”  Those were the first two words utter aloud upon finishing the book..  Now, is it a story without fault? No.  Is it my favorite story of all?  No.  Favorite classic?  Nope.  Even so, I did enjoy this story greatly.


The storyline, itself, is not  memorable.  There really is a lot of lolling around. Not much in way of action, climax, and resolution. Granted, those elements DO exist in the story, BUT they are rather dull standing on their own, and like I said - not memorable. A couple weeks after finishing the book, I am searching my brain thinking; “what was this book about?” “what happened?” Hmmm.  One thing, there is a good amount in way of exposition, and I rather enjoyed that part.  While I was not blown away with the actual plot line, I must admit, it did indeed work for me. The reason? I do believe that would be due to Anne.


Anne was very compelling - she drew me into the story almost the instant that I felt her presence within the pages.  She is not perfect. Actually, I am certain that there are those out there that would be annoyed by her willingness to play second or even third fiddle to her sisters. She did, frequently, let others take the lead while she quietly either followed, or tried to persuade them into other thinking. Her family could be considered superficial, and they certainly were to me. That fact could play a huge annoyance factor too, especially coupled with Anne’s docile type affect.  However, while outward appearances persuaded many to choose the superficial path of life, and persuaded Anne to give up her love - the ultimate overwhelming factor for why I was drawn to Anne was that I did not feel she truly allowed herself to be persuaded into the same thinking that  was amongst her surroundings. She had qualities of  humbleness, and wisdom of her place in life and used her smarts in ways that reflected well upon her.  She did her best to not allow herself to compromise again due to outward attitudes, expectation, and “need” to appear a certain way to others. Not saying that she tossed aside societies’ rules, but she just did not necessarily allow them to RULE her. At least, not to the degree they once did.  That is the over all feeling I gained from Anne.  In the end, she truly does win because she sticks to her guns, and maintained herself in a upright manner. 


Unlike, Pride & Prejudice, this was not truly a love story. Do not get me wrong, it is a love story, but for me it was not the main focus rather the catalyst for the theme.  It was far more a story of Anne and her qualities and standards which are set apart from those who surround her. With that in mind, Persuasion reminded me of Jane Eyre.  And like Jane, the falling in love, and building of a relationship was secondary to the story of the character - of her outstanding qualities that one would like to emulate.  With that said, I will put out there that Jane Eyre is a favorite placed above Pride & Prejudice


I will admit to one thing, Persuasion did feel a bit too perfect. Things occurred, consequences happened, people grew apart, relationships started, love bloomed, and through it all....Anne stayed calm (at least outwardly) and did not sway in her manners. Ummm...yeah, a bit too perfect. I do wish Anne, at times, had a bit more gumption and would not allow her sisters to stomp all over her. I set those feelings aside, and allowed the story to seep into my being, and remind myself for the time this story was written and the roles women were allowed to have in society.  


Yes, I enjoyed this story greatly.  It does not top Pride & Prejudice, by any means. I did not swoon over Mr. Wentworth, although, I was rooting for him and Anne. And frankly, it is not entirely memorable on a detailed level. Rather, it is memorable with the overall tone, feel, and theme.  Will I re-read this book? I highly doubt it.  But, it will remain on my shelves for others in my family to read, one day, if they so desire.  Unlike Pride & Prejudice, I will not own multiple copies either. 


Bottom Line:  Persuasion was most definitely worth my reading time. It read smoothly, and quickly while I was anchored in by the character of Anne along with the added presence of Mr. Wentworth. I definitely was engaged throughout, and found it be such an enjoyable read that I could not help but express this book as “most excellent” for entertainment.  I do recommend it  to be apart of others’ classic reading list.



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Side Note:  Now that I have read Persuasion, I do believe watching the movie is in order. From what I understand, the 1995 Persuasion adaptation is the one most preferred. Have you seen the movie?  If so, which adaptation would you recommend and why?


~ Is not, the first sentence of this book one of the longest sentences you have read?  My gosh. Therein-lies the trouble with Austen, for me.  Her long sentences are scattered throughout. Or, if not long, then sentences, at times, are  full of nonsense. “Get to the point Jane. Get to the point.” is what I would think many times. Ugh.  What usually happens when I start reading long sentences such as the first sentence of this book, I re-read. And, if re-reading fails to bring sense to the sentence then I gloss over thinking it of non-importance, or importance that will come to light sooner or later. This method has not really failed me yet. Granted, I am not reading these books to analyze.  I will admit though, that first sentence really does set the tone for the character of Sir Walter Elliot. He is a shallow man.


~ Introductions that are placed in classic books are always of great fascination for me. However, I never read them before the story itself. They always contained spoilers. I do appreciate them greatly afterwards. They always tend to fill voids of understanding which then allow me to have room further reflection upon the story. The introduction for Persuasion in my Penguin Classics edition was no exception. I greatly enjoyed this part. Not only did I learn more about Jane Austen, I was able to better appreciate the story and its setting.


~ The Notes found in the back of the book were very helpful. I did not refer to them all that much, but when I did an “ahhh” of understanding came over me. The notes did help clarify words and phrases used in the early 1800s that are no longer used - or at least not used where I live.  These clarifications did aide greatly for my understanding of a passage or topic at hand.

 


Note Worthy Quotes:


“How quick come the reasons for approving what we like.”


“We certainly do not forget you, so soon as you forget us. It is, perhaps, our fate rather than our merit. We cannot help ourselves.”


“How she might have felt had there been no Captain Wentworth in the case, was not worth enquiry; for there was a Captain Wentworth: and be the conclusion of the present suspense good or bad, her affection would be his forever. Their union, she believed, could not divide her more from other men, than their final separation.”


“She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.”




20 comments:

logankstewart said...

I'm just glad I'm not the only one who not only utters (or exclaims or makes some sort of noise) upon finishing a book, but who contemplates and places value on the importance of the words chosen to utter.  Most excellent, indeed, ibeeeg.  I love the build up of excitement that's just below the surface as you near the end of a beloved book, especially if it's a first-time read.  And then turning the final page, and closing the cover, just sitting there in silence, soaking in everything that had just happened.  It's a wonderful thing.

I'll not read Miss Austen, however, not this nor any of her other stuff.  One, I hold the 2005 Joe Wright film version of P&P with very high regard, finding it cinematically beautiful, with a great score and a marvelous cast.  And two, is, uhm, well, as a guy I just don't cross over into this realm hardly ever.  Keisha assures me it's good, but I'll just take her at her word.  But after devouring Downton Abbey and anxiously awaiting Sunday nights, who knows?  I may develop a strange yearning to experience more period drama/romance.  

ibeeeg said...

Well put Logan...so true that there is a build up of excitement brewing just under the surface.

While I will agree that the 2005 Joe Wright film version of P&P is stunning...absolutely stunning...it does not at all come close to my love for the 1995 BBC production starring Colin Firth. Much more time investment is required, but so worth it.

I still need to get to viewing Downtown Abbey. Once the boy is back in school full time then maybe I will be able to do so. OR, if I choose late night viewing rather than late night reading.

It would be rather interesting if you were to develop yearning for more period drama/romance.

Sue Jackson said...

Believe it or not, I have never read a Jane Austen book.  I know!  How could there be such a gaping hole in my reading repertoire?  I do have a copy of Emma on my shelf and must get to it this year.  I've seen some of the movie adaptations - does that count?  ha ha

This one sounds good - thanks for the review!  And I am with you on the really long sentences!

Sue

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Suey said...

I've just read this, and then watched both popular versions of the movie. Yes, both. The 1995 one stays very true to the book, yet the newer (2007?) one is more polished and dramatic and intense in its emotion. And Capt. Wentworth is much more dashing. :) I liked 'em both! 

I think this is interesting, so many people reading (or re-reading) Persuasion recently, both bloggers and IRL friends. What's in the air?

Carl V. said...

I consider myself a Jane Austen fan but admit that it is mostly because of the films.  I have yet to finish Persuasion but I've read about a third of it and really enjoyed it...but here is why:


I am a HUGE fan of the most recent BBC version starring Sally Hawkins.  The first time I watched I just thought it was okay until the end.  But then I had Mary buy it for me for a Valentine's Day gift, I believe, and I watched it again and fell madly in love with it.   I've watched it probably a dozen times over the last year (I am mad about re-watching Jane Austen film adaptations) and I appreciate it more each time.  Sally Hawkins captures the desperate hopeless feeling of Anne Elliot and how uncomfortable she is being in the presence of the man she let get away.  The performances all thrill me, the setting is perfectly moody, and I just love the end.  The book may not be overly romantic (her books aren't compared to the adaptations), but it is deliciously romantic at the end of this film adaptation.  

I realize I am no longer objective about it, but it is by far my preferred version.

ibeeeg said...

so, which version of Persuasion should I watch first? the 1995 or the newer one?

ibeeeg said...

I will definitely agree that the ending part of the book was romantic. So, I can imagine that the film adaptations play that up even more so. I love watching BBC adaptations. Since I now know that you loved the BBC version of Persuasion, i am sold...I will view that one. Besides, how could I stay away from watching something that is described as "deliciously romantic"? Nope, cannot stay away after that descriptor.

Let me ask you this, does the BBC version cover Mr. Wentworth's letter to Anne? I imagine it did, but I would like to know for certain before I invest time watching.

ibeeeg said...

Normally, I would say just viewing the adaptations would not count. However, I am starting to believe that they do indeed count in regards to Jane Austen's work. I think viewing the adaptions will be the only way I find out what Northanger Abbey is about. However, I did try viewing Emma and I could not even get through that. I guess Emma is just not for me.
I recommend Persuasion as a good Jane Austen starting point.

Carl V. said...

Yes it does.  Now I haven't finished the book so I don't know how it compares to the actual letter written in the book, but it is part of that romantic ending I mentioned.

ibeeeg said...

This is good to know, because it is most definitely part of the romantic ending. Without it, I doubt I would have left the book with thoughts of "most excellent".

Suey said...

I would say probably the older one, since it's closer to the book. But do fit in the newer one sometime, because I just want to know what you think of it!

Suey said...

Wait, now that I see this whole conversation, you better watch the newer one first! Yes, it's very romantic, but they've changed it up a bit from the book. So that's what I'd like to know... will it bother you? (As it does some.) Or will you actually like it better? 

ibeeeg said...

I was thinking of sticking with the older based on that is seemed to stay closer to the book, but then Carl gave his thoughts which made me start to reconsider.

ibeeeg said...

Tough question, really. However, based on my love for P&P and Jane Eyre...I tend to be a stickler for the adaptations staying as true to the book as possible. But in this case, I was thinking that should start with the newer adaptation as i assuming it is shorter and these days my tv viewing time cannot span much past one hour per sitting. Then I will move on the 1995 adaptation. I will compare. I love comparing stuff like this.

Which, on that note, have you ever watched Jane Eyre? I am looking forward to watching last year's release. I wonder if it will be rated top adaptation for my Jane Eyre collection or not.

Have you re-watched the Persuasion movies yet? If not, which one
are going to view if you are planning on viewing one.

Suey said...

Yes, I watched both of the Persuasion movies just this last week. I kinda of like the newer one best even if it messes with the book a bit. 

As for Jane Eyre... oh boy, LOVE it! I love the Timothy Dalton version (not sure what year it is.) This latest remake was fun, but very different. I don't know... not sure what I thought of it. My sister loves the BBC 2006 one and we argue all the time about which one is better. I need to re-watch THAT one again to decide what I think for sure. But I just love Timothy Dalton as Mr. Rochester. Really, a lot.

Carl V. said...

Austen is one of the few authors where I am consistently glad I've watched the films first.  While her books are lovely, I get more of a sense of the romance in them from the film adaptations than I do the books. 

I really enjoyed the latest Jane Eyre release, but I've not seen any of the other films so I cannot comment on this one versus any other.  I can only say that it is gorgeously filmed and delightfully moody. 

ibeeeg said...

I tend to want to read the books before viewing the movie, but I just could not read EMMA and the movie did nothing for me either - I feel asleep.
I am going to watch the Persuasion version you suggested and then an earlier one to compare.

Jane Eyre I so love. I cannot wait to watch the lastest release to see how I like compared to the others. It is matter of craving out the time where I will not be disrupted when viewing. Sometimes, for me, a beautiful film is not enough if it is destroying the book or not following it close enough for my tastes. This is way I did not care too much for the P&P movie starring the Keira person. (I do not know how to spell her name and cannot look it up right now.)

ibeeeg said...

It is settled. I am going to watch the newest Persuasion movie and then watch the later one.

Jane Eyre, I did not like the Timothy Dalton version at all. I prefered a two others before this one. I wrote a post in 2008 about the movies. Check it out. http://www.ibeeeg.blogspot.com/2008/10/jane-eyre-movie.html Please do keep in mind that is an older post, not like how I write them now.

Carl V. said...

Which version of Emma did you watch?  I LOVE the Gwyneth Paltrow version.  One of my favorite end/kissing scenes out of the period films I enjoy.

ibeeeg said...

I watched the version with Gwyneth Paltrow and it did not appeal to me at all. Then I tried another one (I cannot remember which) and promptly fell asleep. I have firmly decided that anything Emma by Jane Austen is just not for me.

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