Thread: Literary Lottery August 2012
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Old 08-05-2012, 08:51 AM   #16
fantasyfan
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I thought very seriously of choosing a work that got many votes but still lost. However in the end I decided to select a wonderful novel by Jane Austen that would be unlikely to ever get into a short list.

I propose Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.

Mansfield Park is the first of Austen’s mature novels considering that both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice are elaborations of lost earlier works {"Elinore and Marrianne" and "First Impressions" respectively}. Yet it is probably the least read.

There are a number of features which make this novel stand out as a masterpiece--albeit a flawed gem. This is the only work in which Austen portrays life in the lower classes and she does so with realism and vigour. Her writing is quite subtle and she makes use of significant symbolism and inter-textuality to develop her themes--these also set this novel apart from her other works. The characterisation is very sharp and a dark ambiguity pervades the plot in a way unmatched until Persuasion.

What makes this a flawed work would seem to be that Austen’s creative process was so powerful that the novel took on a life of its own and began moving down paths that she possibly found uncomfortable. This is very apparent in her treatment of Mary and Henry Crawford in the book and the creative decisions of Jane Austen in working these characters into the tapestry of the novel.

All this makes Mansfield Park a fascinating work to explore. It deserves to be better known than it is.

It is available free of charge from PG and many other sources.

Last edited by fantasyfan; 08-05-2012 at 08:53 AM.
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