"Pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick & wicked"

- Jane Austen
"Jane Austen is weirdly capable of keeping everybody busy. The moralists, the Eros-and-Agape people, the Marxists, the Freudians, the Jungians, the semioticians, the deconstructors - all find an adventure playground in six samey novels about middle-class provincials. And for every generation of critics, and readers, her fiction effortlessly renews itself."

- Martin Amis, in The New Yorker

Friday, July 4, 2008

Voluptuous Trees & Sexy Shrubbery

As Martin Amis has pointed out (see quote near the header of this blog), the Freudians can have, and have had, a field day with Jane Austen's fiction. Darryl Jones, who himself may or may not subscribe to the Freudian school of thought, has had a great deal of fun with Catherine Morland's exploration of the cabinet and its "cavity of importance" and "place in the middle" alone in her room at night in Northanger Abbey.

But this is not all - what do we make of all the carry-on in Mansfield Park (Chapter 10) concerning gardens and locked gates and Miss Bertram escaping with Henry Crawford into the wilderness beyond, with its oak-covered knoll? Or this deliciously suggestive passage in Chapter 46, where Fanny's

"...eye fell everywhere on lawns and plantations of the freshest green; and the trees, though not fully clothed, were in that delightful state, where farther beauty is known to be at hand, and when, while much is actually given to the sight, more yet remains for the imagination."

Or indeed, is there anything remotely Freudian in Emma in Mr Knightley's encounter with Emma Woodhouse in the garden? "He had followed her into the shrubbery with no idea of trying it."

Or is this blogger just imagining it?

Daryl Jones Critical Issues: Jane Austen Palgrave Macmillan 2004

No comments: