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Monday, November 15, 2010

Jane Austen's Hegelian Synthesis REDUX

And here is my reply to Elissa Schiff's interesting comments on one of my earlier posts, in which I revisit, with fresh eyes, what I wrote a year ago about Jane Austen as a closet Hegelian:

"Why I do believe you have connected the exegesis of all the person & place names, etc. in NA rather neatly, Arnie."

Thank you, Elissa, I knew you would enjoy, understand AND appreciate it all.

" Now I do wish you would allow room for this all within the actual novel of NA, however, without placing the material into a shadow novel,because it all seems to mesh well for me."

Sorry, I calls 'em as I sees 'em, and I sees DOUBLE stories in all her novels, based on overwhelming evidence.

NA can't be BOTH a Gothic parody AND an ANTI-parody at the same time. I really think JA was, by her shadow stories, giving the reader ANOTHER version of reality, a kind of warning. Just as Dickens in A Christmas Carol, allowed Scrooge the benefit of seeing the awful ending toward which his life was leading without having to actually live the rest of his life to find out, in the same way JA's shadow stories are all
CAUTIONARY TALES.

And so, in NA, she is saying that yes, if you take Gothics literally, and if you fail to attend to reality in front of you, then you will wind up imagining absurdities which bear no resemblance to reality. But ON THE OTHER HAND, she is saying that if you reject Gothics entirely, then you are failing to attend to the subtle metaphorical reality of the best Gothic novels, which are covert coded depictions of everyday life. There are even greater dangers in having too LITTLE imagination than there are in having too MUCH imagination.

So, there is no way to reconcile these two views into one single reality. JA is being very Hegelian, presenting us with two opposite views of reality, and suggesting to us that the "truth" lies somewhere in between, when we hold both diametrically opposed ideas in our heads.

Almost a year ago to the day, I quoted Wikipedia as follows:

"Hegel developed a comprehensive philosophical framework, or "system", to account in an integrated and developmental way for the relation of mind and nature, the subject and object of knowledge, and psychology, the state, history, art, religion and philosophy. In particular, he developed a concept of mind or spirit that manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united, without eliminating either pole or reducing one to the other. Examples of such contradictions include those between nature and freedom, and between immanence and transcendence.”

And how about "sense and sensibility" and "pride and prejudice"? Just to name a few others that some author somewhere once wrote about, I think....

Read more here:

http://sharpelvessociety.blogspot.com/2009/11/jas-synthesis.html

Cheers, ARNIE

P.S. added 11/19/11: See the following post as well:

http://sharpelvessociety.blogspot.com/2011/11/hegel-and-jane-austen-redux-redux.html

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