A Selection from Scrutiny: Volume 2 by F. R. Leavis

By F. R. Leavis

Quantity 2 of a range from Scrutiny opens with Mrs Leavis's a lot quoted reports, which jointly shape 'A serious conception of Jane Austen's Writings'. There follows a piece of studies of novelists (Dorothy Richardson, Gissing, Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Henry James), and Mrs Leavis's learn of Edith Wharton. Then there are 3 of James Smith's essays: the prestigious 'Preliminary Survey' of Wordsworth; the both celebrated 'On Metaphysical Poetry' and the research of As you're keen on It. a bit on 'The English culture' reprints experiences of Jefferies, Beatrice Webb, Sturt and Piers Plowman.

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What the critics have really meant in calling Lady Susan unpleasant is that a general callousness on the author's part, a belittling of all the actors in the drama, is apparent. The launching of Mansfield Park was when Jane Austen decided to move Lady Susan out of the centre of the picture and adopt the point of view on the drama of the passive Frederica, who had been exhibited only at second hand in other people's letters, a dummy not in the 1 Here is one of many in language. The Miss Manwaring who has designs on Sir James Martin is said to be 'absolutely on the catch for a husband'.

In, edited by Professor Dobree, of Introductions to English Literature (1940): 'Unlike Scott she cared more for her art than its subject. . She would change nothing and is content to enjoy. . ' 24 Q. D. LEAVIS well as an astonishing contrast in form and tone with Pride and Prejudice, with the composition of which it overlapped—the one so sparkling and dramatic, the other low in vitality, as it were, and depending very little on dramatic scenes in its narration. The priggishness of the book is of a special kind, not just the occasional schoolmarmy effects of Sense and Sensibility which there are only the result of artistic inexperience (for the same kind of points are made effectively in Persuasion without any impression of preaching); in Mansfield Park the morality is almost deliberately conventional and the moralizing unbelievably trite, yet there are also savage outbreaks against conventional moralizing and socially approved behaviour.

There are many such close parallels, and it is hardly necessary to point out that the changes show an increased psychological interest on the author's part, both the desire and the ability to probe deeper into feelings and motives and the reasonings of the heart. A similar change is shown in the denouement. Lady Susan is found out by a clumsy accident which depends on an unlikely combination of circumstances. Edmund is undeceived about Mary by the logical working out of the drama. It is Mary's brother who is guilty like Lady Susan, but in Edmund's eyes Mary is involved almost equally when he discovers she shares her brother's moral outlook; Edmund feels about the revelation of her character as Reginald did on finding out his mistress's, there is the same sense of 'seeing through' a beloved object and the same shame at having been taken in.

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