Literature Foundation 2010


Week 5


For week 7


Firstly I will go through the Donne poem, answering any questions you might have as a result of writing about it and reading my comments on your writing about it.

Then we will begin to look at how to analyse prose; specifically, extracts from long fictional texts. Such as, for instance, the novel Persuasion, by Jane Austen. In the seminar we will look at the following extract and analyse it; the point of the analysis is to find out the criteria to use for doing such an analysis.

In a good novel, there is no redundancy. Every sentence, every word, is there for a purpose. In a great novel, much more so. In a novel by Jane Austen, a highly conscious and skilful writer, even more so again.

What is the purpose and function of each of the sentences in the following extracts? Here are some guidelines to get you started.

The function of a novel is usually to provide immersive entertainment. To create a world, and offer an absorbing experience of that world. The purpose of the world, apart from captivating the reader, is to provide an environment for its characters. In Persuasion, the reader experience is largely focussed on empathetic experience of character. Novels are able to pretend to provide an experience that is frustratingly lacking in real life: we get to know what these fictional people are actually thinking and feeling; we get to experience their experiences, their moods and loves and antipathies. Much of the art of this novel, much of the point of very many of the sentences, is about that.

Jane Austen uses a variety of different strategies to do this. They include dialogue, narrative, omniscient authorial commentary, irony, and, in particular, a strange technique known as free indirect discourse. In this the narrative voice suddenly turns into the internal voice of one of the characters. Please learn first about free indirect discourse (more here). You will need to understand this before you do this exercise.

Now analyse each sentence in the following, looking for the function of each, particularly in terms of conveying state of mind.

In addition: what do you need to know, to research, in order to comment on this passage?

Lady Russell, convinced that Anne would not be allowed to be of any use, or any importance, in the choice of the house which they were going to secure, was very unwilling to have her hurried away so soon, and wanted to make it possible for her to stay behind till she might convey her to Bath herself after Christmas; but having engagements of her own which must take her from Kellynch for several weeks, she was unable to give the full invitation she wished, and Anne though dreading the possible heats of September in all the white glare of Bath, and grieving to forego all the influence so sweet and so sad of the autumnal months in the country, did not think that, everything considered, she wished to remain. It would be most right, and most wise, and, therefore must involve least suffering to go with the others.

Something occurred, however, to give her a different duty. Mary, often a little unwell, and always thinking a great deal of her own complaints, and always in the habit of claiming Anne when anything was the matter, was indisposed; and foreseeing that she should not have a day's health all the autumn, entreated, or rather required her, for it was hardly entreaty, to come to Uppercross Cottage, and bear her company as long as she should want her, instead of going to Bath.

"I cannot possibly do without Anne," was Mary's reasoning; and Elizabeth's reply was, "Then I am sure Anne had better stay, for nobody will want her in Bath."

To be claimed as a good, though in an improper style, is at least better than being rejected as no good at all; and Anne, glad to be thought of some use, glad to have anything marked out as a duty, and certainly not sorry to have the scene of it in the country, and her own dear country, readily agreed to stay.



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