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'We have all been more or less to blame ... every one of us, excepting Fanny' Taken from the poverty of her parents' home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny's uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, br 'We have all been more or less to blame ... every one of us, excepting Fanny' Taken from the poverty of her parents' home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny's uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry's attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary's dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords' influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen's most profound works. This edition is based on the first edition of 1814. It includes a new chronology, additional suggestions for further reading and the original Penguin Classics introduction by Tony Tanner


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'We have all been more or less to blame ... every one of us, excepting Fanny' Taken from the poverty of her parents' home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny's uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, br 'We have all been more or less to blame ... every one of us, excepting Fanny' Taken from the poverty of her parents' home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny's uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry's attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary's dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords' influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen's most profound works. This edition is based on the first edition of 1814. It includes a new chronology, additional suggestions for further reading and the original Penguin Classics introduction by Tony Tanner

30 review for Mansfield Park (eBook)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Greyeyedminerva

    I was astounded to find that many of the reviews on this site criticize this book for the main character, Fanny Price, & her timidity and morality. It is very different from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, whose smart, sensible heroines make the novels, but I actually enjoyed this book immensely for its social commentary. Most of the characters in this book singlemindedly pursue wealth, status, and pleasure regardless of their personal and moral costs. Their antics are pretty I was astounded to find that many of the reviews on this site criticize this book for the main character, Fanny Price, & her timidity and morality. It is very different from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, whose smart, sensible heroines make the novels, but I actually enjoyed this book immensely for its social commentary. Most of the characters in this book singlemindedly pursue wealth, status, and pleasure regardless of their personal and moral costs. Their antics are pretty hilarious, and I think Fanny's passive and proper nature makes her an ideal medium through which to observe all the frivolous and shallow people around her. Aside from being funny, the book also raises the issue of a girl's "duty" to marry well - should personal happiness be sacrificed for money and connections? Whether you will like this book depends on why you read Jane Austen. Don't read these novels as you would a Harlequin romance, because that's not what they are, as this book shows. The love story and the "happily ever after" element are a lot more prominent in P&P and S&S, but in Mansfield Park it is definitely less important than the social commentary.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    Most Austen aficionados agree that Pride and Prejudice is a great book. Jane Austen thought it might be too "light and bright and sparkling"--that its comedy might outshine its serious points--but its continued popularity today indicates that her recipe for brilliance contained just the right ingredients. Yet a lot of modern readers loathe Mansfield Park, despite its being thought by others the greatest of all Austen's work. What's going on here? Frequently leveled criticisms: * Fanny is a stick Most Austen aficionados agree that Pride and Prejudice is a great book. Jane Austen thought it might be too "light and bright and sparkling"--that its comedy might outshine its serious points--but its continued popularity today indicates that her recipe for brilliance contained just the right ingredients. Yet a lot of modern readers loathe Mansfield Park, despite its being thought by others the greatest of all Austen's work. What's going on here? Frequently leveled criticisms: * Fanny is a stick. * The moral stances against the Lovers' Vows and against the Crawfords are baseless and pompous. * The marriage of cousins is not just disappointing, it's disgusting. * The ending is disappointing. Edmund is a dreary hero--Henry would have been much better a match for Fanny. Fanny is a stick. The ink spilled about Fanny pegs her as physically weak, humorless, and worst of all she disapproves of innocent and harmless fun like the play for what seem to be self-righteous reasons. Fanny's physical weakness seems easy enough to dismiss as a criticism. However uninteresting continuous illness is for a modern reader (unless it's a reader who loves hospital and doctor stories), that is actually a slice of reality 200 years ago. Fanny's physical state is an observant portrait of a sensitive child who was never given the warmth of a fire in winter, who wore cast-off clothing, and probably was fed last in the nursery, maybe even the leavings that the bigger cousins didn't want. She gets a headache being cooped up indoors, suggesting allergies. Aunt Norris made it her business to see that giving Fanny as much as her cousins got was "unnecessary waste" and Lady Bertram was too indolent to notice. Sir Thomas had little to do with the children's upbringing, so he didn't see it either--we discover this when he comes to the nursery for the first time, and discovers that Fanny has never had a fire in winter. There is plenty of corroborative detail of this sort of treatment of poor relations raised as charity cases by wealthier relatives, if one reads period memoirs, letters, even sermons. Aunt Norris says later in the book to Fanny Remember wherever you go you are always least and lowest, and no contemporary reader ever pointed this out as unbelievable. Fanny's character is retiring, but that's understandable considering the way she's been raised. Austen (who had a brother adopted into a wealthy relation's family) seems to understand what it would be like for a young person to be taken from her home, crowded and humble as it was, to be raised in a completely different manner--and manor. Fanny is an acute observer, at least as acute as Mary Crawford is, and far more charitable. Probably moreso, for Fanny was able to descry emotional changes in both Mary and Edmund as well as her more readable cousins, and Mary--while seeing Julia's plight, and shrugging it off--did not see Fanny's adoration for her Cousin Edmund. Mary was also able to talk herself into believing Fanny's unswerving politeness to Henry, and her occasional flushes of anger, as expressions of love. Fanny sees into everyone's heart, and feels for them all, deserving or not--excepting only Henry. She sees his love, but she does not trust it, or him. Though Austen does say later she might have married him, after time--if Edmund had married first. Fanny has no humor. If you compare the number of moments of laughter, you'll find that Fanny exhibits far more sense of humor than Anne in Persuasion or Elinor of Sense and Sensibility, much as I love both characters, especially Anne. I suspect many readers overlook examples like this bit in Book One, Chapter XII, where Tom has just come in during a hastily-arranged ball, and is bitching to Fanny: "...they need all be in love, to find any amusement in such folly--and so they are, I fancy. If you look at them, you may see they are so many couple of lovers--all but Yates and Mrs. Grant--and, between ourselves, she poor woman! must want a lover as much as any one of them. A desperate dull life hers must be with the doctor," making a sly face as he spoke toward the chair of the latter, who proving, however, to be close at his elbow, made so instantaneous a change of expression and subject necessary, as Fanny, in spite of everything, could hardly help laughing at. "A strange business this in America, Dr. Grant! What is your opinion? I always come to you to know what I am to think of public matters." After which Austen makes it clear that, despite the situation, Fanny cannot forebear laughing out loud. Later, she and brother William talk and laugh in the coach all the way to Portsmouth. I just can't see Anne Elliott cracking a smile in either situation. The real sticking points are Fanny's disapproval of the Crawfords, and . . . The moral stance Fanny takes against the play. I've seen modern readers inveigh against this as a harbinger of lugubrious Victorianism. They overlook the fact that in Austen's day, it was a sign of disrespect to carry on as if unconcerned when the head of the house was away, and in danger of his life. And even now, who among us would like to make a long, fatiguing trip just to come home and discover that our own room (out of all the rooms in a big house) is the scene of an ongoing party? As for the Crawfords and ther innate badness, Austen tries to show us attractive people who can be kind, are socially acceptable, but were raised without any but the most superficial moral awareness, much less conviction. Many feel that this novel is filled with more delicious wit and comedy than any of the others outside of Pride and Prejudice. Contemporary psychology, psychiatry, and social sciences of various sorts worry anxiously at the nature-versus-nuture debate, as we try to figure out why we are the way we are; Austen tries to show us that someone without morals may reform, but it takes time and effort as well as love. And would Henry Crawford have reformed? I'll come back to that. The marriage of cousins is disgusting. No getting around that, not what with we know about genetics, so we grow up regarding our cousins as being as off-limits as siblings. On first reading Austen's novels, my then-teenaged daughter was only slightly less repulsed by the marriage of cousins than she was at Emma's marrying a guy well old enough to be her father--and who acts like one more often than not. But the truth is that these things were quite common during Austen's time. And, given the sequestered lives country girls lived, it was a miracle if they met any young men outside of their handy cousins--who presumably at least had the proper rank in life; there was still a tendency for parents to feel it was better for older and wiser heads to select husbands for their innocent daughters, and handy male cousins, well known to the family, also rounded out estates nicely. Edmund is a dull hero. Is he really dull? He exhibits about as much of a sense of humor as does Mr. Darcy, which is to say very little. When he's with Fanny he is, at best, the kindly, well-meaning, but rather patronizing older brother. In fact Edmund is at his worst in his scenes with Fanny. He's insensitive and condescending--he's a typical teen-age boy in the early scene when he tries to talk Fanny into being glad to live with Aunt Norris. Even his being a teenager is no excuse for such insensitivity, for he has to have observed her unsubtle cruelties. Unless he believed that Fanny really was a second class member of the family--which observation does not redound to his credit. In all their other scenes, he's unfailingly kind (except when he permits Mary to monopolize Fanny's horse, which is prompted by his crush on Mary), and when he tries first to to bully Fanny into participating in the play, and then he tries to bully her into marrying Henry--despite his vaunted principles, which he knows Henry doesn't share, his motive being that giving Fanny to Henry will bring Mary closer to himself. He does care about Fanny in his own peculiar way, but there is absolutely no chemistry; he calls her Sister right until the end, when he wants to denounce his own sisters for straying from societal norms, so that Austen's unconvincing narrative that he fell in love "after just the right amount of time" carries a strong whiff of incest. Edmund also comes off poorly when he discusses Mary Crawford with Fanny, metaphorically wrinkling his nose over her rather free speech and attributing her frankly expressed opinions to bad upbringing. He proves himself a first class hypocrite when he denounces the acting scheme, but then gives in because Mary wants to act--and then he's so involved with Mary that he totally overlooks the more serious trouble going on between his sisters over Henry. The evidence is there--Fanny sees it--but Edmund doesn't. Mary falls for him in spite of herself, and here is our clue that the Edmund the family sees is not the Edmund the world sees. She sees Edmund as a man and not as the family's moral windvane. It's through her eyes that Edmund becomes mildly interesting. "He was not pleasant by any common rule, he talked no nonsense, he paid no compliments, his opinions were unbending, his attentions tranquil and simple." She's fascinated by this kind of guy--she's never met one before--and in her company, Edmund comes alive. In some of their passages he exhibits intelligence and even a faint semblance of wit. I think the internal evidence is clear that, had they married, it probably would have been happy for a few months. But once the reality of being a minister's wife really hit Mary, and the newness wore off, she would have felt imprisoned, and made Edmund's life hell. That she craved some kind of peace and security was clear enough, but not as a minister's wife. She knew her limitations, and was satisfied enough with herself to not wish to change. If one speculates, as I do, about what happens after the end of each novel, it's easy to see Edmund carrying a torch for Mary Crawford for the rest of his life--and Fanny knowing it. There's too much a sense of settling for second best when he marries Fanny--which brings me to my own problem with this novel. In his essay on Mansfield Park in Lectures on Literature, Vladimir Nabokov says, "An original author always invents an original world, and if a character or an action fits into the pattern of that world, then we experience the pleasurable shock of artistic truth, no matter how unlikely the person or thing may seem if transferred into what book reviewers, poor hacks, call "real life." There is no such thing as real life for an author of genius: he must create it himself and then create the consequences." The weakest point in Pride and Prejudice is the coincidence that brings Darcy and Elizabeth face to face at Pemberley. Jane Austen tried to smooth it as much as she could, having had Mrs. Gardiner grow up in the area, and making it possible for Elizabeth to visit because she is safe in the knowledge that the Darcy family are away. But still, when he comes round the side of the stable and their eyes meet, it's an interesting moment, and a moment we hoped for, but not an inevitable moment. In Mansfield Park, until the very last there are no coincidences. Each action unfolds with dramatic integrity, flowing logically from the preceding. Where the consequences falter is at the end of the third book, when Austen shifts from showing us the novel in a series of exquisitely detailed scenes. Abruptly the story is tucked away and the narrator steps up and addressed the reader directly, telling us what happened. We are told what happened, we're told why, and in short, we're told what to believe. Austen kept the subsequent actions off-stage because delicacy dictated such a course. A lady would not 'show' Henry's crucial decision to run off with Maria Bertram Rushworth--making some readers think it an arbitrary decision. We're told in Austen family lore that Jane's sister Cassandra begged Jane to end the book differently, with Fanny marrying Henry, but Jane was obdurate. I suspect that Jane Austen intended this bit to be the convincing piece of evidence against Henry: He saw Mrs. Rushworth, was received by her with a coldness which ought to have been repulsive, and have established apparent indifference between them for ever: but he was mortified, he could not bear to be thrown off by the woman whose smiles had been so wholly at his command; he must exert himself to subdue so proud a display of resentment; it was anger on Fanny's account; he must get the better of it, and make Mrs. Rushworth Maria Bertram again in her treatment of himself. This passage echoes his first conversation alone with Mary, when he decides so idly to make Fanny fall in love with him. We already know from earlier evidence he likes the chase. Never all the way to marriage. He makes jokes about that. With this decision about Fanny, we see that he stirs himself to action if any woman resists his flirtation, even someone as insignificant as Fanny; early on in his pursuit, he can't even remember if he saw her dancing, though he professes to remember her grace. But saying that Henry pursues Fanny all the way to proposing marriage just because she resists him is too simple. The reason he doesn't ask Maria Bertram to marry him when she's dropped as many hints as she can that she's not only willing, but expecting a proposal, is that though he finds her extremely attractive (all those rehearsals of the tender scene prove that) he has no respect for her. He knows she's selfish and a hypocrite, which is fine for idle flirtation. Fanny is the first woman he respects. And that respect might--might--be enough to change him, some readers think, before we're abruptly thrust out of the story, just to be told by the narrator that the deserving got their happy ending, and the others didn't. Finally, in Fanny's and Henry's relationship there is that fascinating element of the reformed rake, the taming of the beast, that was as much a draw to women readers in Romantic poetry (check out Byron--and the reactions from his audience, in old letters and articles) as it is now. I wonder if, in fact, readers 200 years ago were as disappointed with this ending as modern readers are now--saying out loud, "Well, this is the way it ought to be," but internally rewriting the story so that Henry does resist Maria's angry, selfish intentions despite her physical allure, and Fanny gets her passionate and reformed Henry, rewarding him with all that devotion and sensitivity that seems wasted on Edmund. Opinions in Austen's circle seemed to have been mixed, and the book apparently did not sell as well as the others. Why did Austen end it the way she did? Were Fanny's feelings for Edmund real love? They don't read that way to me. It could be my opinion is colored by Edmund's reactions to Fanny, for chemistry has to go two ways if it's to be sustained, but her admiration, sparked so early in her teens, seems the kind of crush romantic youngsters form and then grow out of. She's clear-sighted enough to see Edmund's faults concerning Mary, but she doesn't seem to see his other vagaries. She does see Henry's faults, but at the very end, it seems she is slowly being won over through his alterations; when they walk together in Portsmouth on a Sunday morning, energy sparks between them. She cares for his opinion, she watches him. It seems to me that this is the start of real love, the love of a mature woman. But then, quite suddenly, it all is thrown away, the more unconvincing because Austen resorts to telling us what to think, after an entire novel in which she had shown, so beautifully, living and breathing characters. Consistency, in Nabakov's sense, is sacrificed; moral truth is firmly asserted, at the cost of artistic truth. I don't blame that on Fanny, but on her creator.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    Upping my rating from 3 stars to 4 on reread. Mansfield Park isn't as easy to love as most of Jane Austen's other novels, but it has a lot of insights to offer into the personalities, strengths and weaknesses of not just Fanny, but all of the other characters who live in and around Mansfield Park, a country manor in England. Like Kelly says in her truly excellent review of this book, it's called "Mansfield Park" - not Fanny or Foolishness and Awkwardness - for a good reason. The other thing that Upping my rating from 3 stars to 4 on reread. Mansfield Park isn't as easy to love as most of Jane Austen's other novels, but it has a lot of insights to offer into the personalities, strengths and weaknesses of not just Fanny, but all of the other characters who live in and around Mansfield Park, a country manor in England. Like Kelly says in her truly excellent review of this book, it's called "Mansfield Park" - not Fanny or Foolishness and Awkwardness - for a good reason. The other thing that helped me was mentally repeating the mantra that stood me in good stead when I was rereading Rebecca recently: This is not a romance novel. If you read it with the standard romantic expectations, you're likely to be disappointed. A starry-eyed view of romance and happily-ever-after is not the point of Mansfield Park (and, really, not of any of Austen's other novels, Darcy and Wentworth notwithstanding). Here it's much more about the social commentary, and often about the ways people hurt others through their selfishness or lack of consideration. After rereading both Mansfield Park and Persuasion, I think that Fanny is just as good a heroine as Anne Elliot, and actually they have a lot in common in their personalities: sensitive, rather shy, physically weak, kind-hearted and giving to a fault. Anne just got the benefit of a better romantic plot line and (sorry/notsorry, Edmund) a far more appealing hero in Frederick Wentworth. Once I stopped trying to squeeze Fanny and Edmund into the roles of romantic heroine and hero, I was able to appreciate how nuanced and realistically Austen drew these characters. Fanny is the poor cousin who is taken in by her Aunt Bertram's family as a young girl. She's a sensitive soul and a quiet personality, with an unfailing moral compass. Fom the modern point of view she can be a bit of a prig at times, but she was following the social expectations for her time, especially for a dependent young woman. Fanny struggles with her health, partly because of her Aunt Norris' unflagging (and unasked for) efforts to keep Fanny humble and always, always useful, and to save the Bertrams' money at Fanny's expense: her rooms are probably bitterly cold in winter; there's never a fire in her sitting room until her inattentive uncle realizes it one day. (Aunt Norris, by the way, is a brilliant creation, a shockingly appalling person that still makes you laugh.) And Fanny also struggles with her unrequited love for her cousin Edmund, the only truly loving person in the Bertram family toward her. So it's a rough blow for Fanny when the fashionable, self-centered and worldly brother and sister team, Henry and Mary Crawford, blow into town and upend everything at Mansfield Park. Edmund's sisters, Maria and Julia, fight over Henry's attention (Maria's engagement to another man not posing much of an obstacle in her mind; she'd love to trade up personality- and intelligence-wise). Edmund promptly falls for Mary Crawford, who can't quite believe she's really giving a second son--and one who's going to be a clergyman!--the time of day. Edmund is still absentmindedly kind to Fanny, but he's completely head over heels for Mary, to Fanny's vast chagrin. I never thought Mary quite as unworthy a person as Fanny does, though that may be my modern perspective talking. Henry clearly starts out as a player and a user, but Fanny's sweetness and goodness start to change his jaded heart. Once I let Mansfield Park settle for another day or so, I'm going to jump into Sherwood Smith's Henry and Fanny: An Alternate Ending to Mansfield Park and see if she can convince me that, just maybe, Jane Austen got the ending wrong here. (ETA: She kind of did.) Initial review: Fanny always struck me as a sad sack, and Edmund as needing a nice big shot of testosterone so he could step it up a notch. I really need to reread this one to see if I can develop more appreciation for the main characters. Maybe my problem is that I want all of my Austen heroines to be more like Elizabeth Bennet.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    (This is usually the part where I offer abject apologies for my review's length, but I don't feel like it this time. It's long. Continued on the comments section. You have been duly notified.) Ah, Fanny Price. We meet again. Our previous meeting was…. How shall I say? Underwhelming. Unsatisfying. …Lacking is really the word I’m looking for. There was something missing in every encounter I had with you that made me want to tear my hair out. Now I know why, and it was entirely to do with what I brou (This is usually the part where I offer abject apologies for my review's length, but I don't feel like it this time. It's long. Continued on the comments section. You have been duly notified.) Ah, Fanny Price. We meet again. Our previous meeting was…. How shall I say? Underwhelming. Unsatisfying. …Lacking is really the word I’m looking for. There was something missing in every encounter I had with you that made me want to tear my hair out. Now I know why, and it was entirely to do with what I brought to the table for our meeting. I brought your sisters-in-theory, the heroines Elinor, Emma, Marianne, and Elizabeth, like a pack of stylish queen bees in my head, dazzled by their brilliance and faced you with them at my back like a jury at an oral exam, a row of judges at an audition ready to cut you off after only six bars. And your six bars, I will be real with you, started to seem to be a particularly wail-based version of On My Own that I thought I had heard enough times already to know what your deal was. I was in no position to see you at all at that time. In those ladies listed above, Austen provided me with a repeated melody and a theme that I admired and respected. You didn’t fit into that pattern, didn’t check the boxes I imagined were necessary. I was baffled, frankly, with what the Austen I had created in my head wanted with you. More importantly, really, I made the mistake of thinking that, like those ladies, you were the point of the novel. On the one hand, I wasn’t wrong. You were. But not as an examination of an individual, independent person. This novel is not called Fanny. It isn’t called Foolishness and Awkwardness, or any approximation of virtues that you might be supposed to stand for. It’s called Mansfield Park. Fanny is the Pygmalion of Mansfield Park, and in that sense is as central as I ever thought she was, but, as with any Pygmalion story, it is the hands of her Makers that the novel is concerned with more than anything else. I spent the first read looking at the product instead of the creator. That was my mistake, and that was the mistake that I corrected this time. Looking at it from that perspective, it isn’t even as if Austen is breaking a pattern here, considering her other real estate named novel. I had been used to placing this novel and Northanger Abbey in opposing corners, but it turns out that this novel is less a departure for Austen and more of a return to the interests and focus of her earlier career. In Northanger Abbey, Austen focused on lampooning wider trends in society, on the Gothic trend in popular culture and novels, the experience and expectations of young girls, the effects and power of money, social climbing, and the realities of many an unequal marriage. It was about Catherine in the sense that she was a well-meaning person who encountered these things, was affected by them and made a tortured example of what Austen considered intolerable nonsense, but Austen examined those things through her rather than the reverse. There is more interest in commenting on wider trends here than on examining an individual and whatever happens to be mixed up inside there, although of course with Austen’s minute and particular observational powers, there will always be some individual moments that ring true. Neither is this novel about Fanny, but rather about new trends and new societal influences that Austen was concerned with. However, rather than the light touch, the laughing eye, the pleased-with-herself cleverness that she seemed to delight in for nearly the entirety of Northanger Abbey (with an exception to be dealt with later), Mansfield Park carries the voice of maturity and accordingly weightier concerns. Unfortunately, it seems that, like Elizabeth, Austen has seen more of the world and the more that she saw; the more that she was dissatisfied with it. A character flaw she could once dismiss or punish by making someone ridiculous in a party scene or a serious misstep that she could once smooth over and let Life Go On no longer seems so funny or so easily dismissed. It’s not a game any more. So this, I think, is where the tone that puts many people off this book comes from- a tone that can seem prudish, moralizing, humorless, and even bitter at points. Who wants to watch when Beatrice, born to speak all mirth and no matter (or so she can cleverly claim), suddenly gives up and stops laughing and seemingly becomes Lady Disdain in fact? It’s hard to see the harsh side of the intellect win out, even temporarily. I’m sure that’s another major part of what put me off last time. It’s easier to call hard things names than see what they have to say and take it seriously. What a difference a fresh approach, with my eyes open to my own prejudices, made. Coming to it with a clean slate meant that I could see Austen’s brilliance from the very first page. Austen’s light touch sometimes means that, like the best grand masters, her handiwork is often hidden behind an absorbing story and characters that we are too involved with to pause to admire the brushstrokes and word choice that got us there. But this time I was able to do that, man is she fantastically brilliant. Let’s take a moment to just demonstrate this through an examination of the masterpiece of a first chapter. “About thirty years ago, Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet’s lady, with all the comforts and consequences of a handsome house and large income. All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. In two sentences, Austen gave her readers everything they needed to know about what this story was going to be about, what was going to be seen as important in this society, and something of the tone with which it was going to be treated. I know that where, down to the specific town, that something happens, is of vital importance and can and will, in Austen’s view, change all the action. I know, to the letter, exactly the social “level” of the society that I will be dealing with and the sort of concerns and anxieties that that comes along with it. More than this, I can tell, right away, that this is a story of small and everyday concerns in a small society of populated by even smaller, busybody sorts of people. And you know what? She didn’t use the word “small” once, or suggest that anything that was happening was small or insignificant in any way. Instead, she uses the language and structure of clauses, adding increasing amounts of specificity to cut down the significance of her story bit by bit, “about thirty years ago,” “Miss Maria Ward,” “Huntingdon,” “county of Northampton,” “her uncle, the lawyer.” By the time we reach the end of her clauses, we have qualified ourselves into absurdity, and are in the mood for the first satiric cut at the values that support this social system. The tone is all perfectly reasonable observation, but the cuts continue: “She had two sisters to be benefitted by her elevation, and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria did not scruple to predict them marrying with almost equal advantage. But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women who deserve them.” It’s quite skilled, what she does there. She delivers more information to us and starts to take us down an expected path of storytelling, with an appropriately fairy tale-esque set of three sisters with differing fates who meet with a surprise that must be resolved. We’re settling in for a tale by a fireside and all of our expectations of that without even quite realizing it because her cover of wry wit keeps things moving along at a brisk pace. But she has you now. What happened to those other two sisters? That means its time for another talent of Austen’s, sorting and categorizing people into uncomfortably recognizable individuals that it is hard not to react strongly when you hear just one more of their spot-on, of COURSE she did pronouncements. She sorts through the sisters’ personalities by giving them the situation of their sister’s marriage to a poor Marine to deal with and seeing how they react. It’s interesting, because right off the bat, the narration doesn’t make me want to totally condemn either sister. Lady Bertram’s placid indifference to the fate of likely-soon-to-be-in-need-of-help sister seems almost as contemptible as Mrs. Norris’ officious interfering and tale-telling. There could even almost be an argument to be made that Mrs. Norris’ anger was justified, looked at from a certain point of view, and at least she didn’t simply drop her sister from her life. Sure, it was just likely to make trouble as anything, but it was doing something. But it does let me know who they are, quite quickly. I can already see how I think they move and walk, how they are likely to talk and the likely subjects that they will discourse on when they do. I can see their gestures when they ring for tea and I know what their attitude to someone being late is likely going to be. And she didn’t tell me a word about any of that. The final missing piece is a more thorough examination of the morals and values that will provide the foundation for the actions and reactions of the novel. Austen has already given me hints of it ( “about three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it,” “not so many men of large fortune as there are pretty women to deserve them” “.. could not possibly keep [it] to herself… ), but now is the time to lower the boom. Therefore, the meat of the next several pages is taken up with working through the somewhat different thoughts of Mrs. Norris and Sir Thomas on the subject of charity and generosity. They examine a project, entirely conceived, proposed and pushed for by Mrs. Norris, to adopt one of her poor sister’s children. Sir Thomas is hesitant: “He debated and hesitated;- it was a serious charge;- a girl so brought up must be adequately provided for, or there would be cruelty instead of kindness in taking her from her family…. “ “… I only meant to observe, that it ought not to be lightly engaged in and to make it really serviceable to Mrs. Price, and credible to ourselves, we must secure to the child, or consider ourselves engaged to secure hereafter, as circumstances may arise, the provision of a gentlewoman.” Mrs. Norris soothes him that she’ll be very involved with it and makes like she's going to give Fanny all her worldly possessions, and each of them decide to move forward, both of them rather pleased with themselves: “The division of gratifying sensations ought not, in strict justice, to have been equal; for Sir Thomas was fully resolved to be the real and consistent patron of the selected child, and Mrs. Norris had not the least intention of being at any expense whatever in her maintenance. As far as walking, talking and contriving reached, she was thoroughly benevolent, and nobody knew better how to dictate liberality to others, but her love of money was equal to her love of directing and she knew quite as well how to save her own as to spend that of friends… though perhaps she might so little know herself, as to walk home to the Parsonage after this conversation, in the happy belief of being the most liberal-minded sister and aunt in the world.” Therefore when Sir Thomas opens the not unreasonable subject of sharing responsibility for their new charge, there are a thousand excuses and not one single prayer of a chance that Mrs. Norris will do anything material to help. By the time I am done with the first chapter, then, I understand the two understandings of morality that we will be dealing with in this book. The first, the morality that is entirely of appearances and outward show, bent mostly on using it to accomplish personal aims and the second, a morality that is really actually concerned with finding and doing the right thing, and thinking through a situation to figure out what that right thing might be, despite the imperfections of a situation or person involved. It’s the difference between knowing what is right, but not being prepared to do anything about it, and a person who acts on that knowledge to the best of their ability. It’s already so much more interesting and less black and white than many other possible paths that could have been taken. That took only eleven pages. Slightly less than, in my edition, actually. That’s all, and I am already deeply familiar with the rules, official and unofficial wants and desires of the society we’re in, I feel that I have a very good idea about who the people I am going to be spending time with are, and I know something about the sort of conflict I will be dealing with. Moreover, I am invested in finding out how this charitable “experiment” works out, if only so I can hate-watch Mrs. Norris and her breathtaking awfulness. I got so much information, without it ever feeling like the “info dump” that you get at the start of a fantasy novel. Instead, Austen’s version of the prologue did not concern itself with merely loading us up with names and atmosphere, but rather took a moment to accomplish the much more important task of building a bridge and connecting to the characters and the society of the novel. But what about Fanny, you ask, insistently? What are we to do with her? Do we really have to just put up with her as a heroine for the sake of everything that comes along with it? My answer is yes: But only if you are absolutely determined to see her as a heroine, which would be a mistake and a waste of Austen’s handiwork. As we’ve already seen in our examination of the first chapter, our “main character” is barely introduced, by name, and not at all for herself as a person. She isn’t chosen for her position based on drawing any swords out of stones or volunteering as tribute. She’s referred to as “the girl,” or the “oldest girl,” and taken for the random accident of her birth. That makes sense, because Fanny is the product of her circumstances, first that of her birth and then the place where she was largely raised into adulthood. Fanny is the expression of what an average, well-meaning girl in her place might turn out to be. But she is no heroine. She’s small and scared and timid. She is constantly worried by what she should be doing or saying, constantly ready to read and react to the possible negative reactions of anyone around her. It makes sense, it’s a survival mechanism that probably contributed to her doing so well in this house. It means, however, that her first reaction is always going to be, “But wait, could I get in trouble for doing that? God knows I have been told often enough that I am a sub-human due to my birth and financial circumstances, and if I do something wrong, I could lose whatever precarious position I have.” Of course, half the time, Fanny is just pissing people off with this, coming off like she thinks she’s superior or making them feel bad about their own moral choices, but she can’t take the risk of doing something less than morally irreproachable, because the one time she decides to do that and it turns out that someone is in the mood to condemn her, she’ll lose the only thing she has to trade on for her own self-worth and, she thinks, her worth in the eyes of others: her general impression of moral virtue that she’s been able to gain for herself. And that’s not a small thing to lose for a girl who doesn’t have the money or the title or the overwhelming beauty to make up for it. All she has is, “Fanny is a good girl,” as an assurance of a place to eat and sleep of some minimal quality. That’s why it made so much sense that she would want a public and unanimous appeal to her to participate in the play, and only after some mishap made it necessary, in order to do it. Although she admits that she would like to participate at some point, it’s important that that’s not why she’s doing it. She’s not entitled to that sort of feeling of preference or doing things for pleasure, or so she thinks. (There’s a brilliant line when the whole party goes to Southerton for a day-outing that deals with this. Mrs. Norris is being all pissy because she wasn’t able to exclude Fanny from going with them and getting all huffy about how grateful Fanny should be for the special, special beyond belief treat that her lowly drudge self does not deserve and Edmund just replies, rather sharply, “Fanny will feel as grateful as the occasion warrants.” Like, lady, I see what you are doing there and GOD, you are exhausting.) I wouldn’t take this as evidence of any consistent knight-in-shiny armor deal going on with Edmund, though, that might redeem this for you. Another reason she is not a heroine is that you will be SO disappointed by her hero counterpoint if you try to think of it that way. Barely even ONE tenet of Romantic happiness is evident here. Edmund is a good enough sort of fellow. He starts out in the second camp of people who really do try to do the right thing and think through situations to figure out what that right thing is. However, that is increasingly compromised throughout the novel when he becomes obsessed with the newly arrived hot chick, Mary Crawford. We then get, I would say, upwards of 100 pages of him joining the Mrs. Norris dark side and convincing himself that what is selfishly best for him is also the right thing to do. He’s also just the most enormously pathetic sucker, hanging on to even the slightest evidence of Mary’s care for him, dealing with her blowing hot and cold and blaming it all on her circumstances or the way that she was raised. He even spends actual chapters trying to convince Fanny, obviously in love with him (though Austen, again, just wonderfully, never actually says that she is in love with him out right, though she constantly implies it and assumes our knowledge of it as readers throughout), to marry Henry Crawford... (continued in the comments below) * * * ORIGINAL: Dear Jane, Please accept my profound apologies for what I am about to write. I would be most grateful if you would be inattentive to the following review. Please believe in my most profound respect and adoration for you. Yours & etc, Kelly So, the writing is fine. But the heroine is... difficult to like. I'd have more sympathy for her if there was more of a personality in there. But her major character traits seem to be moralizing, correctness and dullness. It is nothing like Austen's usual impressive characterization. It was a chore getting through this. I wouldn't take this as representative of the rest of Austen's novels, in terms of tone or character. I also would warn you that if you're a fan of the movie, you will probably not be a huge fan of the book. This Fanny is not like that Fanny. I can understand why the director changed her character and made that story more about Austen. I think this book could be pretty deathly on the screen otherwise. I'd really say skip this one, or at least try everything else first. I'm due for a re-read, so we'll see if I change my mind or if perhaps I was seduced by the flash and sparkle of Lizzy, Emma, Elinor and Marianne. But at this point I find it hard to recommend.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bookdragon Sean

    The impossible happened! I read something by Jane Austen and I didn’t give it five stars! What is the world coming to? I don’t even know who I am anymore. Though this was awfully dull. Austen has never be renowned for her fast moving plots, so I know what to expect when I go into one of her novels. What makes her writing so compelling is the social commentary and the razor sharp wit. The woman holds nothing back! And she’s ever so subtle. Her characters are often caricatures and she exploits the The impossible happened! I read something by Jane Austen and I didn’t give it five stars! What is the world coming to? I don’t even know who I am anymore. Though this was awfully dull. Austen has never be renowned for her fast moving plots, so I know what to expect when I go into one of her novels. What makes her writing so compelling is the social commentary and the razor sharp wit. The woman holds nothing back! And she’s ever so subtle. Her characters are often caricatures and she exploits them to demonstrate the folly of regency society. A comment here, a sly remark there, and her narration sings a song of unrequited annoyance and anger all directed towards people who don’t realise how stupid they are. So what happened here? Normally the narration sides with the heroine. She’s often a bit naive and overcomes her initial prejudice or ignorance through the course of the plot. But here Fanny felt absent for a large part of it. She’s awkwardly quiet and distant within her own story. Granted, she’s pushed aside by the characters in the beginning because of her low both and correspondingly low social status compared to her highborn peers, though I still want to hear her voice every so often. At times I forgot she was even there. I think books always struggle when the protagonist is so shy. I found her the most uncompelling of Austen protagonists as she seemed unwilling to act on her misfortune. Where was her fire? Where was her will to change her own fortunes? She just seemed to slip into the background, like a tree or a coat stand in a stage set: she was invisible. And she was clearly in love from the get go, but the man she was after clearly didn’t seem to notice the obvious and she just didn’t do anything about it. The romance felt weak. Fanny simply fell in love with the only man from high society who was ever kind to her. The book was also terribly long, which is fine if the characters are engaging. But, again, Austen’s characters are anything but here. Endless conversation was followed by endless conversation in a drawn out piece that did not need to be so long-winded. The plot did not move quick enough, and it was terribly predictable. Maybe I’ve just grown tired of her storytelling. Modern critics pay particular attention to the mentions (or whispers) of slavery within the book, though I don’t think there’s much substance beyond the fact that we know it is actually happening and that it’s the cause of England’s wealth. I consider Persuasion the absolute best example of Austen’s writing and, reassuringly so, it is also her shortest novel. As Shakespeare wrote, sometimes less is more. 2 stars because, despite it’s shortfalls, this is still Austen Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Insta | Academia

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Jane Austen's take on Cinderella! From the very first moment, the reader knows just as well as Fanny herself that she is meant to marry Edmund. But reader and heroine alike also know that by the social standards of Jane Austen, that is a Mission Impossible. Fanny is a true fairytale Cinderella, raised by one negligent and one malevolent aunt at Mansfield Park. She is reminded at all times that her cousins are superior to her in all respects, and that she has to serve them and be grateful for the Jane Austen's take on Cinderella! From the very first moment, the reader knows just as well as Fanny herself that she is meant to marry Edmund. But reader and heroine alike also know that by the social standards of Jane Austen, that is a Mission Impossible. Fanny is a true fairytale Cinderella, raised by one negligent and one malevolent aunt at Mansfield Park. She is reminded at all times that her cousins are superior to her in all respects, and that she has to serve them and be grateful for the right to breathe the same air. How is the issue going to be solved? The reader knows that Austen won't under any circumstances let any of her main characters marry beneath their entitlement and worth in money, so a miracle is asked for - and it is delivered in the form of a brutal scandal. Ruthlessly, the author attacks several male and female characters and commits reputation murder, which favours her quiet and consistent favourite Fanny Price, one of the few fictional women Jane Austen seems to have truly liked. Fanny is not "perfect", as she is poor and capable of feeling both anger and jealousy, but she definitely escapes the ridicule and humiliation which Austen has in store for the vain and shallow characters she despises. Fanny's wedding in the end is one of the most satisfying Austen weddings I have attended - figuratively speaking - even though I would dread the kind of life she prefers. That is the Austen conundrum in a nutshell in my opinion - she makes me engage in and follow the path of characters that I wouldn't care for at all in real life, and she makes me turn pages eagerly to figure out the denouement of a plot I wouldn't be bothered to even consider newsworthy in reality. Hers is a literary talent that crosses worldview borders!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    Fanny Price's mother had two sisters as beautiful as she, one married an affluent gentleman Sir Thomas Bertram, and everyone said this would enable her siblings, to do the same. Nevertheless little England hasn't enough rich men, to accommodate deserving ladies. Another married a respectable quiet clergyman, with little money. Sir Thomas's friend, Reverend Norris good yet dull , gets him a church and a cottage in Mansfield Park, Northampton, on his vast estate. The kind Sir Thomas is very willin Fanny Price's mother had two sisters as beautiful as she, one married an affluent gentleman Sir Thomas Bertram, and everyone said this would enable her siblings, to do the same. Nevertheless little England hasn't enough rich men, to accommodate deserving ladies. Another married a respectable quiet clergyman, with little money. Sir Thomas's friend, Reverend Norris good yet dull , gets him a church and a cottage in Mansfield Park, Northampton, on his vast estate. The kind Sir Thomas is very willing to help the last of the sisters. Still she has pride with a streak of stubbornness... this young woman marries a coarse , hard drinking Lt. in the marines, Mr. Price, to the disgust of her family and soon her own regret . The fertile Mrs. Price has nine children at the time, when our story commences there will be more. The sister who married the clergyman wrote a letter to Mrs. Price, to send a child of hers to Mansfield Park , to be raised in all the advantages that wealth can provide. Mrs.Norris, strangely is not a nice woman, indeed just the opposite. She likes to scheme though, when ten year old Fanny, arrives scared, homesick for her brothers and sisters especially William , a year older in fact the eldest child of the poor dysfunctional family. Their father is disabled from the military with a small pension, but a big thirst, it doesn't benefit anyone that he still gets drunk everyday... The lonely, timid girl, meets her aunt and uncle, she is quite reserved, and her gorgeous cousins, Maria, 13, and Julia, a year younger, and the boys, wild Tom, 17, and gentle Edmund, 16, they have nothing in common. ..The girls have a teacher in the mansion, Fanny joins them , in class, she feels isolated and miserable, this unfamiliar environment, is frightening and the cousins, while not mean, aren't really friendly either. Living upstairs in a cold modest room , Fanny, develops tremors in this place, whenever her terrifying uncle , speaks to her . Aunt Bertram, is the laziest woman on Earth seldom leaving her sofa, though basically an agreeable person, that is always tired. You can't say that about the other aunt, Mrs.Norris, who lives a short distance away , and comes constantly to Sir Thomas's opulent house, she increasingly grows to hate Fanny. Why? Maybe the clergyman's wife and now happy widow, thinks the little girl is an intruder, too low bred to fit into a classy upper class family, and will hurt their standing in society. She, when older will not go to balls with her cousins, to afraid even if asked to come, but is never invited, of course to Fanny's relief. Yet the girl is becoming beautiful, which nobody notices, not even her only friend cousin Edmund, who has eyes for another woman, pretty , lively, rich Mary Crawford the sister of Edmund's friend Henry , the handsome pleasure seeker with money, too, he likes to flirt with every attractive woman, it doesn't hurt that he is fabulously wealthy, unlike the second son, Edmund, studying to be a minister. Which Miss Crawford, abhors not enough salary for her taste. And Edmund wants to marry , Mary, jealous Fanny nevertheless becomes secretly enamored of her sweet cousin. Henry tells Fanny , ( who knows all his foibles) after properly disclosing it to Sir Thomas, this... his love for her, and receiving permission to proceed, yet she greatly dislikes him. An ungrateful woman of 18, how can she refuse a honorable proposal such men, are scarce ...He has flirted with Maria and Julia both liked it, before, but will she ever trust his love? This book will show again why Jane Austen was and is such a magnificent writer , to those few who doubt this obvious conclusion...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Eve

    “The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees. I want money.” – The Flying Lizzards This is the last of Austen’s books that I’ve finally finished, a goal I’ve been working towards since I was sixteen. I saved this one for last because although it’s one of my favorite films, it seemed like it would be a clunky and slow-paced novel. I was definitely wrong. Maybe it’s the timing of it. This book will forever remind me of my grandmother’s passing. She passed away two w “The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees. I want money.” – The Flying Lizzards This is the last of Austen’s books that I’ve finally finished, a goal I’ve been working towards since I was sixteen. I saved this one for last because although it’s one of my favorite films, it seemed like it would be a clunky and slow-paced novel. I was definitely wrong. Maybe it’s the timing of it. This book will forever remind me of my grandmother’s passing. She passed away two weeks ago on the 17th of July at 5:32 am, ten days after her seventy-seventh birthday. I carried this book with me to hospital, I pulled all-nighters making sure to administer grandma’s morphine punctually so her breathing wouldn’t be labored, I hunkered my bulk down in her hospice-provided hospital bed to sleep next to her when she was agitated, and when I finally did have a few hours to rest, this book was by my side. Dear Fanny Price, thank you for keeping me company. I know she is by far the most unusual of Austen’s characters. For one, she lacks the loving support and shelter of her family, something we take for granted with all of Austen’s other heroines. Although meek and shy, she is by no means stupid or unopinionated. Her judgements and assessments of those around her are astute; her sarcasm of a sort that made me giggle on many occasions. A simple-hearted naturalist surrounded by materialistic, money-grabbing hypocrites, it’s no wonder she seeks comfort and love in the only other outsider among the Bertrams–her cousin, Edmund. While his steadfast loyalty to Mary Crawford was at times annoying, it was entertaining! And out of all of Austen’s plots, this one seemed the most plausible and realistic, next to Persuasion. My absolute favorite has always been Sense and Sensibility, but I’m not sure if it will stand up next to Mansfield Park after an overdue rereading; I was in my early teens when I first read it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    April (Aprilius Maximus)

    You can't see me right now but i'm rolling my eyes so hard i can see the back of my head.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    I have seen no small amount of reviews toting Fanny Price as Austen's least likable heroine, and to be honest...I'm not sure where they get that impression from. Granted, Fanny's characteristics often shine by what they are not, next to the undesirable character traits of those around her.....but does this appropriateness of demeanor, attention to honor and morals, and respect toward elders (especially the ones least deserving of it) truely mean she is not fit for her lead status? I think not. A I have seen no small amount of reviews toting Fanny Price as Austen's least likable heroine, and to be honest...I'm not sure where they get that impression from. Granted, Fanny's characteristics often shine by what they are not, next to the undesirable character traits of those around her.....but does this appropriateness of demeanor, attention to honor and morals, and respect toward elders (especially the ones least deserving of it) truely mean she is not fit for her lead status? I think not. Austen's world is full of societal values so foreign to us now, that perhaps we don't know how to appreciate the beauty of modesty when it is truly expressed, and not showcased......perhaps we are unable to look favorably on a woman that is not rebelling externally......for fear she is too prude. Is that now mutually exclusive for heroine status? But here is the truth to this world so concerned with appearances....Fanny Price is indeed a daring character after all. She was brought up in a world foreign to her, and was raised by a constant discussion of her inferior status. It is from this perspective that our heroine decides the only place she can rebel from is her heart....and in loving where she should dare not....she becomes one of Austen's strongest characters. Personal strength does not equal likability...and so here perhaps is where the criticisms lie......but I'll take a strong lead character over a selfish, inconstant, or fickle one any day...so in my book....she's just right.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Duane

    I have a feeling that Fanny Price is more like the real Jane Austen than, let's say, Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Woodhouse. I think Jane wanted to be like Elizabeth and Emma, but she knew she was really Fanny. The book had a different feel to it than the others, more serious characters, more real life issues. All in all, I liked it. I would rate it somewhere in the middle of the pack of her novels. But Fanny is one of my favorite Jane Austen heroines.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    This edition of Mansfield Park comes with a great introduction and notes, containing interesting information about the publication of this novel and historical context. I have been a huge Jane Austen fan ever since I first saw P&P and shortly thereafter read the novel, leading to me falling in love with the dignified wit and sass this author has had. It can't have been easy in her time, which makes me appreciate her dry humour and social criticism even more. A fair warning to you all: I cannot This edition of Mansfield Park comes with a great introduction and notes, containing interesting information about the publication of this novel and historical context. I have been a huge Jane Austen fan ever since I first saw P&P and shortly thereafter read the novel, leading to me falling in love with the dignified wit and sass this author has had. It can't have been easy in her time, which makes me appreciate her dry humour and social criticism even more. A fair warning to you all: I cannot review this book properly without giving away its content, so there will be unhidden spoilers! We start off this book with the wedding of three sisters. One (Lady Bertram) marries rich Sir Thomas, one (Mrs. Norris) marries a clergyman, and one (Mrs. Price) marries a Royal Marine. The latter marriage unfortunately leads to poverty due to an injury / honourable discharge with a meagre pension of the husband. Into this family Fanny is born as the eldest of 9 children. One day her mother decides to give 10-year-old Fanny Price to her aunt to live and be tutored at Mansfield Park (Lady Bertram's estate) until she gets married. Unfortunately, the aunt isn't exactly very interested in any children (not even her own) and the rest of the family don't treat Fanny too well either (especially Mrs. Norris, her other aunt, on whom Sir Thomas relies heavily because of his wife's apathy). Except for when Fanny is denied proper heating, leading to sickness, it's the perfect example of polite mobbing. This was actually more maddening than if they had hit her constantly. The only person Fanny can lean on is her cousin Edmund (second son of the Bertrams). The others are ... well, Tom is either drunk or gambling and the girls are spoilt snobs that I just wanted to hit continuously. It doesn't help that the oldest girl, Maria, gets showered with compliments and affection from Mrs. Norris while Fanny is always reminded of how poor she is and that she should just be grateful to be allowed to live at Mansfield Park although she is a burden. Anyway, 6 years later, Sir Thomas leaves to go deal with some "trouble" at his plantation in Antigua and it is this plantation that is Jane Austen's strongest political criticism I have ever seen. Many say it was "just" a way to get Sir Thomas away for a while so the other events could unfold, but Jane Austen could have come up with something less tricky than Antigua. No, this witty author knew exactly what she was doing. Because yes, back then Antigua was a British colony and slavery was still very common. Which means that a big part of the Bertram fortune (if not all) comes from slavery of all things. We see how bad it is when Sir Thomas takes his oldest son along to make him "grow up" but the experience shatters poor Tom and makes his drinking problem only much worse. While Sir Thomas and Tom are away, match-making for the oldest Bertram daughter (the aforementioned brat Maria) is taking place. Also, the Crawfords (brother and sister) arrive and what can only be described as a romantic mess ensues. The Crawfords are often described as "worldly". Well, I have some other choice words for them. Tom comes back from Antigua earlier than his father and together with his friend Yates and the Crawfords, a play is rehearesed that is, let's say, of dubious moral character for the time. However, everyone but Fanny participates. In fact, Fanny seems to be the only one not blinded by pretentiousness. When Sir Thomas comes back to find the whole house engaging in flirtation under the pretense of rehearsing for the play, he is very upset but at least finally sees that Fanny is a good young woman and not just some burden. A lot of other stuff happens, like Maria getting married to a man she doesn't love in order to be well off as is expected of her and Henry Crawford goes after Fanny (first because he wants to play a game, then because her rejection intrigues him). Fanny however refuses him, much to Sir Thomas' anger who thinks she is ungrateful (you know, because the poor girl should be so flattered to get a proposal from someone as well off as Henry Crawford). In order to teach Fanny some humility, he therefore sends her home to her parents and what a desolate place that is! The contrast between peaceful Mansfield Park and the dirty, desolate Portsmouth could not be extremer and illustrates another powerful political criticism of the author: while at Mansfield Park, everyone can pretend life is good, but in reality there are other places that are off much worse, and not everything about the Regency era smells like roses. We also get the theme of adultery through Henry Crawford and Maria. Maria's husband files for divorce after the affair is made public and she is not only shunned in society but the family sends her off to "live in another country" (to keep the scandal as far away from them as possible) while Henry Crawford (who could have saved the situation by marrying Maria but refused) gets away unscathed. In this climate Fanny returns to Mansfield Park where Tom has fallen ill (all the drinking had to have some negative effect at some point), the younger daughter Julia has eloped with Tom's friend Yates because she feared her father's anger (she knew about the affair but kept quiet), and Mary Crawford actually says to Edmund that Tom dying would be a great opportunity for him (she and Edmund were romantically involved but she always wanted him to be more ambitious; she also defends her brother's affair, only lamenting that it was discovered and she actually blames Fanny for the whole thing)! Thus, everyone finally realizes that even a person that comes from money can be rotten. Edmund is shattered but upon reflection sees how important Fanny is to him and proposes to her. Tom gets better, is a changed man, and Yates turns out to be a good husband. Fanny finally takes her place as the moral compass of the Bertram family. So this novel is one big exploration of morals. We have Sir Thomas who wants his house in order, commands respect and values morals but makes money off slavery and sends his own daughter away to distance himself from scandal. We have Tom who can't deal with the ugliness of real life. We have Maria who just wants to be loved and therefore does the completely wrong thing. We have Edmund who knows better but is blinded. We have Mrs. Norris who goes on and on about class and money, not realizing that "the burden" actually is the only good person at Mansfield Park. We have the Crawfords with their materialism and their arrogant view that, because of their social status, they are allowed whatever they want. We have Yates, who stayed by Tom's side and later takes great care of Julia. And, finally, we have Fanny herself who starts out completely blue-eyed, then gets more and more disillusioned, but always keeps her heart in the right place. This book never made it into my top 3 of Jane Austen's body of work but maybe it should. I mean it's the only one in which Jane Austen went this far with her criticism - not only of society for its treatment of women, but also of politics! I didn't like Fanny too much as a character because she was far too passive for my taste and the whole pining for Edmund was annoying but because of the typically beautiful writing style, wit and dry humour in certain situations I didn't mind. Also, what's up with Edmund?! I mean, I'm buying into his infatuation with Mary Crawford but after finally realizing what a bad woman she is, he swears to never get over her only to propose to Fanny 5 minutes later?! Marriage was different back then, sure, but we're supposed to believe that it's LOVE between Fanny and Edmund and I just don't see it. So yeah, lots of thoughts after re-reading this book and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants an intelligent classic with a brilliant writing style and lots of important themes.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    937. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen Mansfield Park is the third published novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1814 by Thomas Egerton. A second edition was published in 1816 by John Murray, still within Austen's lifetime. The novel tells the story of Fanny Price, starting when her overburdened, impoverished family sends her at age ten to live in the household of her wealthy aunt and uncle; it follows her development and concludes in early adulthood. Frances "Fanny" Price, at age ten, is sent fro 937. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen Mansfield Park is the third published novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1814 by Thomas Egerton. A second edition was published in 1816 by John Murray, still within Austen's lifetime. The novel tells the story of Fanny Price, starting when her overburdened, impoverished family sends her at age ten to live in the household of her wealthy aunt and uncle; it follows her development and concludes in early adulthood. Frances "Fanny" Price, at age ten, is sent from her family home to live with her uncle and aunt in the country in Northamptonshire. It is a jolting change, from the elder sister of many, to the youngest at the estate of Sir Thomas Bertram, husband of her mother's older sister. Her cousin Edmund finds her alone one day and helps her. She wants to write to her older brother William. Edmund provides the writing materials, the first kindness to her in this new family. Her cousins are Tom Jr. (age 17), Edmund (16), Maria (13) and Julia (12). Her aunt, Lady Bertram, is kind to her, but her uncle frightens her (unintentionally) with his authoritative demeanour. Fanny's mother has another sister, Mrs Norris; the wife of the clergyman at the Mansfield parsonage. Mrs Norris and her husband have no children of their own, and she takes a 'great interest' in her nieces and nephews; Mrs Norris makes a strict distinction between her Bertram nieces and lowly Fanny. Sir Thomas helps the sons of the Price family find occupations when they are old enough. William joins the Navy as a midshipman not long after Fanny arrives at Mansfield Park. He visits them once after going to sea, and writes to his sister. ... تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و سوم ماه ژوئن سال 2013 میلادی عنوان: پارک منسفیلد؛ اثر: جین اوستین؛ برگردان: مریم حقیقی، انتشارات کوشش، 1364، برگردان: رضا رضایی، نشر نی 1386 داستان در انگلستان، و در سالهای نخستین از سده نوزدهم میلادی می‌گذرد. «فانی پرایس» به خاطر مشکلات مالی مادرش، با خواهش شوهر خاله‌ ثروتمندش؛ «سرتوماس برترام» به منزل بزرگ آنها در «مانسفیلد پارک» می‌رود. اما خاله و شوهرخاله و فرزندان آنها «تام»، «ماریا(ماری)» و «جولیا(جولی)»، با «فانی» رفتاری نابخردانه دارند. تنها «ادموند»، دومین پسر «برترام»ها، با او مهربان است ... رمان چنین آغاز می‌شود: «حدود سی‌سال قبل، دوشیزه ماریا اهل «هانتینگ دن» که دارایی‌ اش فقط هفت هزار لیره بود، آن‌قدر شانس داشت تا آقای «توماس برترام» اهل «منسفیلد پارک» واقع در استان «نورث هامپتون» را تور بزند، و بدین ترتیب به مقام همسر «بارون» ارتقاء یابد، و از تمام مواهب و مزایای یک خانه قشنگ، و درآمد کلان بهره‌مند شود. همه ساکنان «هانتینگ دن» با حیرت و شگفتی، درباره‌ شکوه و عظمت این وصلت حرف میزدند، و حتی عموی خانم «ماریا» تصدیق کرد که وی برای برابری با شأن و مقام همسرش، حداقل سه هزار لیره کسر دارد. «ماریا» دو خواهر داشت، که می‌توانستند از ترفیع و پیشرفت او سود ببرند، و چون برخی از آشنایان آنها؛ «دوشیزه وارد» و «دوشیزه فرانسیس» را، درست به اندازه «دوشیزه ماریا» قشنگ می‌دانستند، لذا بی‌هیچ تردیدی پیش‌بینی می‌کردند. که آنها نیز با مزایا و شکوه تقریباً برابر ازدواج خواهند کرد. ولی بی‌شک تعداد مردان ثروتمند و خوش اقبال دنیا، هرگز به اندازه زنان زیبایی که شایسته آنانند، نیست. «دوشیزه وارد» پس از پنج یا شش سال، مجبور شد با «عالیجناب نوریس» که دوست شوهر خواهرش بود، و ثروت چندانی هم نداشت، ازدواج کند. اما «دوشیزه فرانسیس» عاقبتی از این هم بدتر داشت. در واقع همسر خانم «وارد» قابل تحقیر نبود، «سرتوماس» خوشبختانه قادر بود برای زندگی در منسفیلد، درآمدی برای دوستش فراهم کند، و خانم و آقای «نوریس» نیز، زندگی مشترک و سعادتمندانه خود را با درآمدی نزدیک به هزار لیره در سال، آغاز کردند. اما «دوشیزه فرانسیس» ازدواج کرد تا به قول معروف، خانواده‌اش را برنجاند و با دل‌بستن به یک ستوان نیروی دریایی، که نه سواد و تحصیلاتی داشت و نه ثروت و موقعیتی، این‌کار را به تمام و کمال انجام داد.» پایان نقل با این که «پارک منسفیلد» در دوران پختگی ادبی نویسنده نوشته شده‌، اما آن نشاط و ظرافت رمانهای نخستین ایشان، در این رمان به دیده خوش ننشست، شاید هم باید، این ژانر را در دوران جوانی، و در روزگار خوشباشی خواند. اما نباید فراموش کرد، که این رمان سپیده دم دوران مدرن را با صدای رسا فریاد میزند. ا. شربیانی

  14. 4 out of 5

    Melindam

    Update 3/7/2017 What is not a surprise: every time I re-read a Jane Austen novel (no matter which one), I discover something new that surprises me. Like opening an old treasure chest where you think you are familiar with every item and yet you realise there is always something new turning up. So many thoughts on this particular re-read, I might end up writing a proper review eventually ... or not. My present musing -Mrs Norris does not have a Christian name! She is either referred to as Miss Ward o Update 3/7/2017 What is not a surprise: every time I re-read a Jane Austen novel (no matter which one), I discover something new that surprises me. Like opening an old treasure chest where you think you are familiar with every item and yet you realise there is always something new turning up. So many thoughts on this particular re-read, I might end up writing a proper review eventually ... or not. My present musing -Mrs Norris does not have a Christian name! She is either referred to as Miss Ward or as Mrs Norris. There is not even a hint of what her first name might be. As it is Jane Austen, probably it was intentional. - It always struck me, but never more so than now, how obtusely blind and indifferent the Bertram siblings are (yes, Edmund is no exception) towards each other. - I did not mind this time that Fanny ends up with Edmund, but it makes me sad how Henry Crawford wastes all the enormous potential that is undoubtedly in him. - It is a pity Mrs Norris never visited Mrs Price in Portsmouth: she would have put the fear of God into all the household and showed them what's what when it came to housekeeping. :) - The only 2 things Fanny does actively in the whole course of the book is buying a knife and subscribing to a library. Update 4/11/2014 It is high time I had a heart-to-heart with Jane Austen about MP. Dear Miss Austen (You Sly Thing!*), Despite the solemnity of the topics in Mansfield Park, I am sure as hell you laughed your head off as you sent me, other readers & critics all on a wild goose chase. You amaze me with your audacity and daring in making us believe that we are the only ones who got Fanny Price figured out – as opposed to Edmund, Sir Thomas, Mrs Norris, Henry & Mary Crawford who also all think they figured her out – but you just use us all shamelessly for your cunning purposes. You let us, nay, you want us to be seduced by the Crawfords, just like the Bertrams are & you succeed. Every time I read Mansfield Park, I want Fanny to end up with Henry, just like her obnoxious, shallow relations do & I feel cheated when this does not happen. Maybe I don’t have the same avaricious reason for it, but what does that make me? Shallow? Immoral? Mislead? Blinded? You see? You manage to do all this and more. You are a genius & I love you forever and always, even though I will never like Fanny (but please give me credit for trying). But I do love Mansfield Park and will re-read it again and again. Yours ever, Melindam *courtesy of Mrs Bennet

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    "I can not but think good horsemanship has a great deal to do with the mind." Jane Austen always did a great job of planting ridiculous declarations in the mouths of characters she wished to discredit. Character was her strong suit and there's some good'uns here in. Within Mansfield Park there are characterizations so delicate and actions of importance utterly unassuming. Some seem meaningless in their modesty. Excellent work by a diligent author. Dangerous pitfalls for the casual reader. The who "I can not but think good horsemanship has a great deal to do with the mind." Jane Austen always did a great job of planting ridiculous declarations in the mouths of characters she wished to discredit. Character was her strong suit and there's some good'uns here in. Within Mansfield Park there are characterizations so delicate and actions of importance utterly unassuming. Some seem meaningless in their modesty. Excellent work by a diligent author. Dangerous pitfalls for the casual reader. The whole novel overall moves along steadily with a dim flash of excitement here or a trying time there, never altering much above or below its middling pace. That's not a ringing endorsement, but nor is it condemnation. No, this is condemnation... There is too much time taken up in mundane description: the planning of a play that never comes off, for one. Oh yes, certainly the play held importance in that it provided Austen a stage to showcase her principal players. But could that not have been accomplished with another scene, one that drives the narrative with more force? Fanny Price, our heroine is too prudish to warm up to, and the main object of her - I'd say "desire," but that's putting it far stronger than Austen did - is a man setting himself up for a parson's life. They are both a couple of moral, goodie-two-shoes and you long for some mild vice to surface and show them to be human. Heros and villains appear on the scene too obviously. Hovering halos and black hats are almost more than imaginary. Some 'gray area' is introduced in the main "villain," but it's slight and see-through. Intentionally so? Yes, but it could've been handled with more art and the skill Austen showed she possessed in other works. The end is wrapped up all too quickly and with criminal simplicity tantamount to saying, "I don't like her after all, I like you, so let's get married!" An end which left this reader shrugging his shoulders at a pleasant enough diversion that he'd wished had more pride or even sensibility.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Fanny is quite a different bird than most that fly through the books I normally read, self-effacing, eager to please, and horribly self-conscious. I'm not used to that as a main character in an Austen book. Still, it works. She's shy and sensitive, and while we all like to poo-poo such characters in novels, they're generally quite wonderful people in real life. So am I giving this novel a pass because I felt something for Fanny? Possibly. Otherwise, I probably would have been up in arms against t Fanny is quite a different bird than most that fly through the books I normally read, self-effacing, eager to please, and horribly self-conscious. I'm not used to that as a main character in an Austen book. Still, it works. She's shy and sensitive, and while we all like to poo-poo such characters in novels, they're generally quite wonderful people in real life. So am I giving this novel a pass because I felt something for Fanny? Possibly. Otherwise, I probably would have been up in arms against the stupid man who just HAD to have her and all the family members and friends who just HAD to have her marry the cad. Seriously. What's up with these people? If a girl says, no, it should be NO. Seriously. Quite besides that, I really enjoyed the tale and the twists and turns, from the awful production of the play to the horse-riding to the nasty social crap in a society known for being really crappy with social crap. Still, if it wasn't for Fanny being so likable and beset amongst all her betters, I'm not quite sure I'd have cared so much. This novel walked a fine line and I liked it quite a lot. In any lesser hand, this would have been an unqualified disaster. :)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Khush

    This novel can also be called 'Fanny Price' as it tells the story of Fanny. A young but poor girl who goes to live with her well-off uncle at Mansfield Park. She feels unhappy and sad in this place and does her very best to fit in, but very often she is ignored. In fact, she is often subtly rebuked by her aunt Norris, who too lives in close proximity. However, the way we get to know all these characters around Fanny, we see that they are not overtly rambunctious and loud we see how hypocrisy, fo This novel can also be called 'Fanny Price' as it tells the story of Fanny. A young but poor girl who goes to live with her well-off uncle at Mansfield Park. She feels unhappy and sad in this place and does her very best to fit in, but very often she is ignored. In fact, she is often subtly rebuked by her aunt Norris, who too lives in close proximity. However, the way we get to know all these characters around Fanny, we see that they are not overtly rambunctious and loud we see how hypocrisy, formality, unspoken codes of behavior work, and how heavily these are tinged with the veneer of upper-class Victorian life. Propriety is everything and it must be observed all the time. We see this 'restraint'– and all those things one associates with the English upper classes– not only in regards to dialogues but in the very structure of the novel. For instance, recklessness, emotion, sensitivity seldom find a place in any overt manner; however, reason, good sense, manners (laden with hypocrisy) are seen everywhere. Austen, it seems to me, liked the times she lived in. However, what she found disagreeable, she dealt with in her own way. Instead of fighting with the world, she, in her own way, uses humor as an effective tool to express and expose 'her society' without losing her cool. A great strategy and, probably, relevant to all times, but also hard to master. In the novel, there are instances where we get to know more about characters just with a few telling remarks rendered by the narrative voice– Lady Bertram and Aunt Norris at once come to mind in this regard. In fact, Austen's humorous and often mildly sarcastic observations are the high points that are an immense source of pleasure. It is also interesting, or shall I say annoying, to see how 'privilege' constructs grand narratives around itself. Fanny is largely seen as a beneficiary of Bertrams' kindness. Aunt Norris who never forgets to remind Fanny of her good fortunes is not just a character speaking; her voice is the voice of a certain Victorian sensibility –Mrs. Norris expects Fanny to be thankful in the same way England expected its colonies to be thankful. In addition, the narratives of 'help' within the family are only partially true, Fanny almost works like a nurse for the Bertram Family, but no one acknowledges that. Bertram family also have grand illusions about the education of their children. Often times, Fanny's cousins are admired and encouraged by aunt Norris ( a mouthpiece that reveals rotten aspects of her times). Fanny, on the other hand, is looked down upon. But it is not that she is dumb, she has no access to things that her cousins have. Toward the end, we see how almost all of her siblings falter, and some brought shame to themselves. Of course, there were some definitives holes in their pedagogy that people like aunt Norris could not see or did not want to see. One cannot help noticing that many people found Fanny very problematic. She is seen as a prude and even manipulative in deep ways. I think I cannot just brush her off with such easy dismissals. It is true that her own situation imposes certain restrictions on her; she remains cautious and always on her toes. One hardly can relax and be normal if one goes through life constantly seeking to do her best, and always trying to do the right thing. We see how easily 'caution' can go away when rules blurred when restrictions are lifted. For instance, in the absence of her uncle when things become playful and her cousins do 'fun things' at Mansfield Park, and they almost implore her to join them, we see how tempting 'freedom' feels, how it entices one to be unruly and wild. I guess in many ways women like Fanny, no matter what we say about them or call them, we like them, we want women to occupy as little a place as possible. They are still encouraged, to varying degrees and in subtle ways, to be like Fanny Price– submissive, womanly, dutiful.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Sweet, endearing Fanny Price. Fanny is so good and is so perceptive about her own morals and feelings that reading this novel always makes me resolve to be a kinder and more gracious person. There is strength in kindness. Fanny is not physically strong, but her character is. She protects her heart, and she earnestly tries to help wherever she can. Born into a poor family, when she's 10 she is adopted by her wealthy uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, and goes to live on his family's estate at Mansfield P Sweet, endearing Fanny Price. Fanny is so good and is so perceptive about her own morals and feelings that reading this novel always makes me resolve to be a kinder and more gracious person. There is strength in kindness. Fanny is not physically strong, but her character is. She protects her heart, and she earnestly tries to help wherever she can. Born into a poor family, when she's 10 she is adopted by her wealthy uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, and goes to live on his family's estate at Mansfield Park. There, she is greeted with coolness from everyone but her cousin Edmund, to whom she grows deeply attached. Fanny grows up, gets an education and learns the ways of polite society. The story picks up when the bewitching Mary Crawford and her brother, Henry, come to visit. Henry flirts with all the young women in the house, and Mary teases Edmund until he's fallen under her spell. Only Fanny sees the true colors of the Crawfords, and by the end of the novel she's been proven right. Mansfield Park was one of the books I took with me on my trip to England last year, and I loved it so much that I couldn't bring myself to write a review. I mean, what can I say about this great work by Jane Austen that hasn't been said before? But when my stack of unreviewed books grew so tall that it threatened to topple over, I resolved to do better and attacked the pile with vigor. (Hence the influx of reviews this past week. If you regularly follow me on Goodreads, my apologies for the glut.) When I had cleared enough of the stack and found Miss Fanny still waiting for me, I pulled that old trick of deciding I needed to reread the book before I could write about it. I listened to it on audio, and it was a delight! There is so much to admire in Austen's writing, especially in her sharp critiques of human behavior. Fans of Jane Austen have likely already read this. If you are new to Austen, welcome! Find a comfy chair, grab one of her novels and settle in for a good read. I hope you find it endearing. I think this was my third read of this book: First read: 2001? Second read: May 2016 Third read: March 2017 Favorite Quotes "But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them." "She regarded her cousin as an example of every thing good and great, as possessing worth, which no one but herself could ever appreciate, and as entitled to such gratitude from her, as no feelings could be strong enough to pay. Her sentiments towards him were compounded of all that was respectful, grateful, confiding, and tender." "If this man had not twelve thousand a year, he would be a very stupid fellow." "We do not look in great cities for our best morality. It is not there, that respectable people of any denomination can do most good." "Here's harmony! Here's repose! Here's what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what poetry only can attempt to describe. Here's what may tranquilize every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene." "If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so servicable, so obedient -- at others, so bewildered and so weak -- and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are to be sure a miracle every way -- but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting, do seem peculiarly past finding out." "Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply." "She had feeling, genuine feeling. It would be something to be loved by such a girl, to excite the first ardours of her young, unsophisticated mind!" "I will stake my last like a woman of spirit. No cold prudence for me. I am not born to sit still and do nothing. If I lose the game, it shall not be from not striving for it." "Good-humoured, unaffected girls will not do for a man who has been used to sensible women. They are two distinct orders of being." "I cannot think well of a man who sports with any woman's feelings; and thee may often be a great deal more suffered than a strander-by can judge of." "We all have a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carol ꧁꧂

    I've just reread Tadiana's review of this wonderful book & I very much agree with her central point - Austen's novels are not romances & you are doomed to disappointment if you expect them to be. Pride & Prejudice has the most romantic elements, but also enough bracing realism to act like a bucket of water thrown over the face! The books are more very interesting character studies. Fanny comes to Mansfield Park as a shy & not very robust ten year old. Although the Bertram family I've just reread Tadiana's review of this wonderful book & I very much agree with her central point - Austen's novels are not romances & you are doomed to disappointment if you expect them to be. Pride & Prejudice has the most romantic elements, but also enough bracing realism to act like a bucket of water thrown over the face! The books are more very interesting character studies. Fanny comes to Mansfield Park as a shy & not very robust ten year old. Although the Bertram family find her useful only her slightly older cousin Edmund is kind to her & her Aunt Norris (a quite wonderfully horrible character)is straight out mean & hostile. But a delicate constitution does not mean delicate principles & Fanny holds on to hers no matter what the temptations. Some of her scruples seem trifling to 21st century eyes but they are in keeping with the times. As always I enjoyed this read very much & this book remains one of my favourite Austens.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Mansfield Park is perhaps not the one of Austen's novels which appeals the most to modern sensibilities; after all, reasonably faithful adaptations have been made recently of several of Austen's other novels, while Mansfield Park was changed into something Austen lovers barely recognized. Mansfield Park is the home of Fanny Price, the poor relation of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram (Fanny's mother's sister), who took her to live with them from her impoverished Portsmouth home. Fanny is largely over Mansfield Park is perhaps not the one of Austen's novels which appeals the most to modern sensibilities; after all, reasonably faithful adaptations have been made recently of several of Austen's other novels, while Mansfield Park was changed into something Austen lovers barely recognized. Mansfield Park is the home of Fanny Price, the poor relation of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram (Fanny's mother's sister), who took her to live with them from her impoverished Portsmouth home. Fanny is largely overlooked and taken for granted by the Bertrams, her other aunt Mrs. Norris, and the Bertram children, but she finds solace in the friendship of her cousin Edmund Bertram. When the Crawford siblings, Henry and Mary, come to Mansfield parsonage to stay with their sister, the wife of the clergyman Dr. Grant, they unsettle Mansfield society with gay doings and flirtations which lead to more serious events. Fanny is self-effacing to the point of passivity, in marked contrast to Austen's more lively heroines, like Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice or Emma Woodhouse of Emma, which I think is one reason Mansfield Park is somewhat difficult to like on first reading (and why it was changed so drastically for the film version). Yet her moral sense and voice pervade Mansfield Park, and gradually, one grows to realize that she is a woman of deep convictions. When the others decide to put on a play of dubious moral quality and even Edmund joins in, Fanny resists everyone's blandishments to persuade her to take part; when Sir Thomas tries to convince her to marry a man she doesn't love, she resists that as well. She's no Lizzy, but she holds fast to her beliefs more than anyone else in this novel and emerges as a truly worthy heroine. I wish that Austen had seen fit to match Fanny with a more interesting hero, but I guess you can't have everything. Mansfield Park does have much else to savor: the brilliant episode of the play-acting and the scenes at Portsmouth, unlike anything else Austen depicted in their portrait of family life among the not-so-well-off, are particularly masterly. It may be slower than some of the other novels, but Mansfield Park is one of the deepest and most rewarding of Austen's books.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie Christine

    The filling of the reading sandwich between my first time with Mansfield Park ten years ago and last week is Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, which I happened upon two years ago. Cain's book was a revelation to me. At last, I finally understood my essence—after years of wondering what's wrong with me, why I crave so much time alone, why gatherings of people exhaust me, why, yes indeed, I steer my grocery cart abruptly away if I see someone I know in The filling of the reading sandwich between my first time with Mansfield Park ten years ago and last week is Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, which I happened upon two years ago. Cain's book was a revelation to me. At last, I finally understood my essence—after years of wondering what's wrong with me, why I crave so much time alone, why gatherings of people exhaust me, why, yes indeed, I steer my grocery cart abruptly away if I see someone I know in the aisle, simply to avoid the drudgery of small talk. Ain't nothing the matter with me. I'm an introvert. Friendly, not shy, at ease with public speaking, but classic introvert nonetheless. Fanny Price. I get you. While the rest of the world seems annoyed by your reticence, your reserved nature, your seemingly quiet acquiescence, I see a kindred spirit. You'd much rather be out on a solitary walk through the grounds of Mansfield Park, or talking to your horse, than sitting in the drawing room, suffering through endless games of whist and idle gossip. And when you love, you love with a singular focus. You don't need anyone else around; your heart can be filled with few souls-a beloved brother, a trusted friend. Too many chattering voices and you lose all focus . . . yet you're a dreamer. It's simply easiest to go along and pretend to give in to others' whims, for then you'll be left alone, able to return to your inner world. And yet, retreating does not mean you are ignorant of the greater events transpiring around you; the massive social changes ripping apart the seams of the rarefied fabric upholstering your adopted home. You question your bloviating uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, about his affairs in Antigua, which is a euphemistic stand-in for the slave trade, (abolished in England in 1808, a few years before Austen wrote Mansfield Park, but slavery itself would not be outlawed until 1833, sixteen years after her death). You see right through Henry Crawford's cheap imitation of life, his pretty words that are no deeper than a coating of paint, yet your tender heart falls more readily for the promise of having just one BFF when Mary Crawford showers you with attention. But, as is custom for introverts, nearly all people prove to be predictably disappointing in the end. It's better just to be alone. I know you have a horse, but really, a dog would suit you at least as well. A great companion for all those solitary walks in the woods outside Mansfield Park. This being Jane Austen, and Regency literature being what it is, there's got to be male yang to your female yin. And God love Edmund. A more perfect partner could not be found. He's quite the feminist, really; an introvert himself, a good egg, in training for the clergy. Steady, a bit dull, rather daft in matters of the heart, but eventually he gets there. You and he are the straight men in this social satire, reflecting the imperialistic privilege built on the backs of the underclass and the faraway slaves. You're both a bit moralistic and tedious, but at your cores, you are deeply conscious and conscientious. I think you will go on to do great things together. Social Justice Warriors of Regency England. I'm sure of it. And not a stage play in sight. So, I raise my previous 4-star rating up a notch, because I get you, Fanny. I forgive you, because I've finally forgiven myself. And Mrs. Norris? She's become my favorite Austen scoundrel. Best smackdown in all of Austen's oeuvre.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mitticus

    A los 10 años Fanny Price llega a vivir a casa de sus pudientes tios en Mansfield Park. Sir Thomas Bertram es un baronet, que se casó con su tia y tienen cuatro hijos mayores que ella. Ella es la sobrina pobretona a quien han aceptado por caridad, y su tia Norris, la otra hermana de su madre, nunca permite que ella olvide su mala situación. Sometida, se refugia en los libros y en la amistad de su primo Edmund. Fanny Price a primera vista parece la protagonistas más ñoña de Austen. Es más fácil en A los 10 años Fanny Price llega a vivir a casa de sus pudientes tios en Mansfield Park. Sir Thomas Bertram es un baronet, que se casó con su tia y tienen cuatro hijos mayores que ella. Ella es la sobrina pobretona a quien han aceptado por caridad, y su tia Norris, la otra hermana de su madre, nunca permite que ella olvide su mala situación. Sometida, se refugia en los libros y en la amistad de su primo Edmund. Fanny Price a primera vista parece la protagonistas más ñoña de Austen. Es más fácil en tiempos modernos sentir mayor admiración por Elizabeth de OyP , fuerte y rebelde, que por esta chica docil y con una timidez patológica, temerosa de expresar hasta sus objeciones y observaciones morales por no parecer 'poco agradecida' y por no ser 'su lugar'. Sin embargo, es esta misma muchacha quien (view spoiler)[le dice que no a la generosa propuesta de Henry Crawford, si bien hacia el final se estaba ablandando cuando Henry hablaba de llevar su negocios, enfrentandose a su administrador mañoso, lejos de las tentaciones de Londres y sus fiestas. (hide spoiler)] La parte rescatable de la historia es la forma de escribir de Austen, pues se pasea largamente por saloncitos, cotilleos y tias abrumadoras, y parques con bosques y pastos (hasta el cansancio -ay que oda bucolica) para realizar una critica social en su forma irónica de la sociedad de lugartenientes y gente acomodada de la Inglaterra de 1800s. Acerca de sus primas, Maria y Julia: Tenían una vanidad tan bien disciplinada que parecían estar completamente exentas de ella y no darse importancia alguna; mientras que las alabanzas por tal conducta, tan llevadas y traídas por su tía, servían para afirmarlas en la creencia de que no tenían un solo defecto. El factor que mueve las cosas en Mansfield, con el tema tan importante de emparejarse con rentas y buenas relaciones cofmatrimoniocof, es la llegada de los hermanos Crawford visitando a su hermana la sra.Grant quien esta en la casa vicarial. (Mary Crawford:)Con todo el respeto debido a los presentes que tuvieron la suerte de casarse, querida hermana Grant, no hay uno entre ciento, de los dos sexos, que no sea engañado cuando va al matrimonio. Por dondequiera que mire, veo que es así; y comprendo que así tiene que ser al considerar que, de todas las transacciones, es en ésta donde cada uno espera el máximo del otro y procede con menos honradez. {Otra cosa: Estas heroinas "románticas" de Austen , que de ello muchas veces tienen bien poco, siempre me hace gracia que terminen casada con la mansión. No puedo evitar recordar la cara especialmente de la mentada Elizabeth Bennet cuando ve la casita de Darcy por primera vez XD } Además de eso encontramos varias conversaciones acerca del clero, de su importancia, que si social ni una, que si moral, etc Las costumbres de que le hablo podrían más bien llamarse conducta, quizás el resultado de los buenos principios… el efecto, en fin, de aquellas doctrinas que ellos tienen el deber de enseñar y recomendar; y creo que en todas partes se hallará que, según el clero sea o no sea como debe ser, así será el resto de la nación. Porque de hecho, de todas las historias que he leido de Austen hasta ahora, encuentro esta la más moralista. (Edmund:)Cuando un cuerpo de hombres cultos, cualquiera que sea su función, es censurado en peso, sin hacer distinciones, tiene que haber una deficiencia de información o —y aquí sonrió— de otra cosa. Su tío, y sus colegas almirantes, acaso supieran muy poca cosa de clérigos fuera de los capellanes que, buenos o malos, siempre deseaban tener lejos. SPOILERS-SPOILERS-SPOILERS-SPOILERS-SPOILERS-SPOILERS- Encuentro en el personaje de Mary una oscuridad velada, Edmund es explicito al hablar de raices, pero en su hablar y dar opiniones y comentarios, uno se llega hasta a preguntar ¿qué cosas pasaban realmente en casa del almirante? Si Mary hace comentarios de sodomia en fina compañia como de broma... se imaginan ¿que más habrá podido pasar alli? (Mary:)Sea pobre y honrado, de todos modos; pero no voy a envidiarle; ni estoy muy segura de respetarle siquiera. Respeto muchísimo más a los que son ricos y honrados. Y Edmund acerca de Mary: She does not think evil, but she speaks it, speaks it in playfulness; and though I know it to be playfulness, it grieves me to the soul." De ella puede decirse que es la menos hipócrita, habla sin filtros , es como una Marianne de SyS queriendo que Brandon sea Willowby. Por otra parte, como personaje Fanny me da mucha rabia pues siempre se cree mejor y virtuosa y blah, pero no es capaz de asumir su pobreza ni a sus padres y se llega hasta a a considerar indispensable en la casa Mansfield (una falacia), y se rehusa ni siquiera a consider en un principio a Henry, cuando yo creo que sí la quiere. Tiene vision de tunel. Y sí, shippeo a Henry y Fanny. Sí, Mary —fue la concluyente afirmación de Henry—, he picado con todas las de la ley. Tú sabes con qué frívolas intenciones comencé; pero aquí acabaron. No son pocos, y de ello me envanezco, los progresos que he hecho en su corazón; pero el mío está completamente determinado. (Henry Crawford:)"It was bad, very bad in me against such a creature; but I did not know her then; and she shall have no reason to lament the hour that first put it into my head. I will make her very happy, Mary; happier than she has ever yet been herself, or ever seen anybody else. I will not take her from Northamptonshire. I shall let Everingham, and rent a place in this neighbourhood; perhaps Stanwix Lodge. I shall let a seven years' lease of Everingham. I am sure of an excellent tenant at half a word. I could name three people now, who would give me my own terms and thank me." Como esta es una Gran Bretaña de guerras napoleónicas, de guerras con Estados Unidos, y no olvidemos que en Sudamerica se peleaban por su independencia, hay muchas aluciones además a la Marina. Elogios varios, se habla de carreras (con recomendaciones para ser promovidos), y el mayor amor de Fanny es por su hermano William que esta por embarcarse. Es bueno que el parezca sentir cariño por ella, pero creo que juzga muy fuerte por modales , falta de espacio y eso a su propia familia. Cae facilmente en prejuicios. Creo que es el tipo de persona que por sensata que se crea, le gusta engañarse y ver lo que quiere ver. Porque Mansfield Park es lindo y cantan los pájaros, pero tal vez el karma se asoma ya que la riqueza del tio en Santo Domingo huele claramente a trafico de esclavos, y en Porthmouth donde no hay modales y huele, los hombres han peleado y siguen peleando en varias guerras y la enfermedad asoma junto con la pobreza. Pero a ella que le importa si tiene a Mansfield Park. Y si alguien todavia se preguntan porque esto NO ES ROMANCE , Fanny para Edmund, primo en primer grado, ella es su HERMANA debil y nerviosa. EN SERIO EWWWWWWW Segun sus propias palabras: My Fanny, my only sister; my only comfort now!" . . . . Leanlo, cuando tengan muuuucho tiempo, y saquen sus conclusiones. -------------------- nota: Como muchos clásicos , me encontré una vez más leyendo a dos bandas, en castellano y en inglés, por problemas de traducción. Afortunadamente hay una buena edición en linea con las ilustraciones de C.E. Brock. ----------------- La previa: Se viene Lectura Conjunta en Junio en lo de Emma

  23. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    3 1/2 stars. Mansfield Park is very different from the well-known Pride and Prejudice, but it's still a very good read. In fact, it was around 4 1/2 stars up until the end, which I found unnecessarily dragged out and long. If you don't know, I love Jane Austen. While I've only read one other book by her, I grew up watching all the movies and the stories found a permanent place in my heart. Maybe it's because I got to visit Jane Austen's house in England and see her very own writing desk that I fe 3 1/2 stars. Mansfield Park is very different from the well-known Pride and Prejudice, but it's still a very good read. In fact, it was around 4 1/2 stars up until the end, which I found unnecessarily dragged out and long. If you don't know, I love Jane Austen. While I've only read one other book by her, I grew up watching all the movies and the stories found a permanent place in my heart. Maybe it's because I got to visit Jane Austen's house in England and see her very own writing desk that I feel a special bond with her - or maybe it's because she's an absolutely fantastic writer. Mansfield Park follows the plight of Fanny Price, who comes from a poor family and is sent to live with her uncle at Mansfield Park. There Fanny is taught the mannerisms of a lady. But when the Crawfords arrive at Mansfield - two handsome siblings, a brother and sister - they charm their way into the hearts of everyone. Everyone except Fanny, who can't help feeling unsettled by them. I loved that, as I read, it felt like I was breathing in the European culture of the 1800s. Fanny's first ball was magical, and I felt like I was dancing alongside her (let's bring back old-fashioned balls, please?), some of the prudish ways the characters acted made me giggle, and I learned that the term "coming out" signified girls who were around sixteen coming into society (no, it didn't mean they were gay). Oddly enough, Fanny was the opposite of what I usually admire in a heroine - I tend to love the fierce, cheeky, bold women, such as Elizabeth Bennett - but I grew to love Fanny's quiet, modest character. She was easily frightened and tentative to do anything by herself, but I loved her passion for honesty and her integrity. And honestly, with so many strong women dominating literature nowadays, a "weak" female narrator was different and refreshing. It reminded me that not every woman can be strong, and that's okay. Don't think because she was timid Fanny was dull, though. She had a lively, bright personality and a blunt way of putting things that could be tremendously amusing: “Fanny! You are killing me!” “No man dies of love but on the stage, Mr. Crawford.” Like Austen's Pride and Prejudice, this book was driven by the characters. I don't think I've ever read an author who develops their characters as extraordinarily as Austen does. Their vivid personalities, expressions, habits, and conversations made something as mundane as eating dinner or going for a walk interesting, and that's why I love Austen. She's a masterful writer. And then there's this: “But indeed I would rather have nothing but tea.” That quote speaks to my soul.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    My reading of Mansfield Park was attended, part of the way, by two poets talking about the difficulty of writing (or to me, reading) Austen’s kind of novel: A young poet’s ignorance of life will go unnoticed. Meter, rhyme, felicitous phrases, and what not mask the underlying weakness or banality. With fiction, where dissimilar characters suffer and grow and interact, there is no place to hide. One either knows what people go through or doesn’t. (James Merrill) Then she’s a novelist. I don’t know w My reading of Mansfield Park was attended, part of the way, by two poets talking about the difficulty of writing (or to me, reading) Austen’s kind of novel: A young poet’s ignorance of life will go unnoticed. Meter, rhyme, felicitous phrases, and what not mask the underlying weakness or banality. With fiction, where dissimilar characters suffer and grow and interact, there is no place to hide. One either knows what people go through or doesn’t. (James Merrill) Then she’s a novelist. I don’t know whether You will agree, but novel writing is A higher art than poetry altogether In my opinion, and success implies Both finer character and faculties. […:] The average poet in comparison, Is unobservant, immature, and lazy. You must admit, when all is said and done, His sense of Other People’s very hazy… (W.H. Auden) I don’t quite agree with Auden, but it is right that in his “New Year Letter” Austen should stand for the novel at its most dramatically characterful, social-minded and prosy. Austen knows what people go through together. Her dissimilar characters grow and suffer and interact credibly—and she pursues the meaning of their chambered clashes with as little concern for “felicitous phrases, and what not” as any novelist I’ve ever read. Austen’s prose isn’t poetically nerved, it doesn’t aspire to “the condition of music,” and oftentimes it resembles nothing so much as a fine-scratching needle registering the sleights, snubs, anxieties and egotistic vibrations of drawing room seismology. She is no poet, C. Brontë complained to G.H. Lewes. For these reasons—or for dim undergrad apprehension of such—she strongly repelled me when first assigned. Encounters with Pride and Prejudice in college had me fleeing what I saw, then, as the parched and juiceless tabulation of the small change of existence. Claustral, airless, over-analytic of things I didn’t care about. Had I known, I would have seconded Emerson’s, de Staël’s judgment of Austen as “vulgar”/ “vulgaire.” You must understand that to a certain type of youth, the understated is unreal, the commonplace contemptible, the socially conditioned self a soulless puppet. Marriage—marriage as mundane proximity, not Shelleyan epipsyche—is personally remote, at the same time that it is made disgustingly familiar by the misalliance of one’s parents, all parents; and the comedies of courtship and fortune seem trivial when shelved next to whaling and war and revolution and dark journeys and guignon and the horror, the horror! The prose I was bred to is fantastic, fortissimo, and monologic. Books were an escape from the idiocy of family life, not the means of its exploration. My sense of other people was hazy and I liked it that way. The friction of confined egos, however wisely told, reminded me of home; and Austen’s domesticities were closed to me. I wanted only the unreliably (but poetically) narrated novel, the dialogue-less recitation; unpeopled reveries, lyric tirades; Notes from Underground, Sartor Resartus, Thus Spoke Zarathustra. If Austen could scrutinize readerships since 1817, she’d surely have sharp things to say about the current crop of Catherine Morelands, with their Dracula Beefcake books; but I think she’d be equally amused, in her prosy Augustan way, by the American sons of Carlyle, the French sons of Poe, the Nietzscheans, the Lawrentians, the Beats—by all the poseurs of extreme consciousness bred by a Romanticism she knew only in its initial generation and Gothic foretaste. The days of my exclusive allegiance to this readership are long gone, but I only this year made time for its traditional bête noire. Why Mansfield Park? Lionel Trilling, his brow lined and eyes darkened by office hours spent brooding on the moral crises of modernity, announces, after a meditative drag on his Chesterfield, that “there is scarcely one of our modern pieties that it does not offend.” Oh, sign me up! And the old Ishmaelite prejudice may be at work, as well: the Austen novel people say is so unlike the rest is the Austen novel I want to read. Lady Bertram Every thing that a considerate parent ought to feel was advanced for her use; and every thing that an affectionate mother must feel in promoting her children’s enjoyment, was attributed to her nature. Is there a better description of the ghostly, marginal parent whose presence in the family circle amounts to a flickering, semi-transparent hologram beamed from the hopeful head of the engaged parent? In this novel’s gallery of hazily inattentive and self-absorbed people, Lady Bertram stands out. Mrs. Norris That you always know what Mrs. Norris will say, but never how she will say it, is one sign of Austen’s dramatic genius. Mrs. Norris has a predictable store of topics, but the surprise is the ingenuity with which she insinuates her resentful bullying, her aggressive self-pity, into any matter under discussion. This is absolutely realistic. There are narcissists, dead to the world and to other people, who impart an illusion of vibrancy by the sheer variety of excuses they find to talk about their one or two emotions. Mary Crawford One of my favorite characters. A showcase of ambiguity. Mary is where wit borders vapidity, where charm blends with oafishness. Of Mary Crawford, whose charm almost equals her brother’s, we are led to expect that her vivaciousness and audacity will constitute a beneficent counter-principle to the stodginess which, as the novel freely grants, is one of the main attributes of Mansfield Park. But in the outcome her wit is seen to be by no means an energy of Spirit pressing forward to new and freer and more developed modes of being. Actually its tendency is regressive—its depreciation of Mansfield Park is not an effort of liberation but an acquiescence in bondage, a cynical commitment to the way of the world... Trilling does not go on to illustrate his point with reference to the discussion of the clergy Edmund, Mary and Fanny conduct over chapters 9, 10, and 11, but I think he must have had it in mind. This running discussion is a bravura set-piece, and the aha! of revelation-through-dialogue is Mary’s cloddish inability—her smug refusal—to square handsome Edmund’s imminent ordination with the yawning parishioners, homely parsons and indolent clergymen who populate her handbook of received ideas. Mary’s refusal to credit the existence of a figure present before her eyes but not present in the fashionable gallery of burlesques, her slavish reliance on chic formulae of wit, make her, ironically, unworldly, provincial, and stodgy. Edmund and Fanny, the novel’s nominal prigs, actually have livelier, more sophisticated minds: like Mary they are aware of the ignobility of some clergy, while remaining receptive to the nobility of the office and the possible dignity of its holders; they know clergymen to be gluttonous placeholders, and they know them to be “the masters of the ceremonies of life”—a complex vision, a dual perception of reality and of the ideality possible within it that Ruskin saw as instinct with the highest consciousness. Another instance of neurasthenic Fanny’s paradoxical liveliness is her attitude during the tour of Sotherton: The whole party rose accordingly, and under Mrs. Rushworth's guidance were shewn through a number of rooms, all lofty, and many large, and amply furnished in the taste of fifty years back, with shining floors, solid mahogany, rich damask, marble, gilding and carving, each handsome in its way. Of pictures there were abundance, and some few good, but the larger part were family portraits, no longer any thing to any body but Mrs. Rushworth, who had been at great pains to learn all that the housekeeper could teach, and was now almost equally well qualified to shew the house. On the present occasion, she addressed herself chiefly to Miss Crawford and Fanny, but there was no comparison in the willingness of their attention, for Miss Crawford, who had seen scores of great houses, and cared for none of them, had only the appearance of civilly listening, while Fanny, to whom every thing was almost as interesting as it was new, attended with unaffected earnestness to all that Mrs. Rushworth could relate of the family in former times, its rise and grandeur, regal visits and loyal efforts, delighted to connect any thing with history already known, or warm her imagination with scenes of the past. Fanny’s Cowper-quoting poetic nostalgia for ancient aristocratic domains may seem weird and fusty and reactionary, but it allows her imaginative access to that pageant “of the family in former times”—allows her a more textured experience of reality than is available to blasé Mary, for whom county houses are nothing more than the jaunty resorts of golden youth, evanescent as the entertainments and casual love-making they host. The contrast of Fanny and Mary in these chapters nicely demonstrates Pushkin’s observation that country distances, the solitude of estates, and the necessity of bookish diversion permit the provincial young lady to develop a pleasingly eccentric distinction of character, whereas in the capitol cities women receive a better education, perhaps, but the ways of society soon iron out their character and render their minds as indistinguishable as their hats. Fanny Price Fanny is a stunning work of psychological portraiture. Austen knows and can show how an anxious ward acts and feels, in a convincing diversity of situation, down to the merest sigh and blushing demurral. Fanny isn’t a dazzling heroine—she has none of the “good humor of success”—but her peculiar blend of yielding meekness and steely conviction is so formidably imagined that she becomes, well, dazzling. The only touch of realism I missed, for a time, was her lack of a scapegoat. I had a hard time suppressing a knowing smirk when Austen first asked me to believe that the awful drama of displacement, the dread pecking order of distressed females should end at Fanny. I wanted one or two subtle, easy-to-miss scenes in which Fanny, in an extremity of anxiety, instinctively buffers her precarious status by kicking a little dirt on the dignity of some cringing chambermaid or under-butler. She wouldn’t even have to be mean about it, just helplessly, thoughtlessly seeking vent. Three developments altered this line of thought. First, as Mary Crawford’s facile archness became more apparent, I realized I was as guilty as she in thinking that a cynical maxim—victims become victimizers—was sufficient to explain all being. I heard Jane from across the chasm of years, saying: open your heart to the possibility of goodness, man! Second, Fanny began to remind me of my girlfriend. Growing up she was a meek mouse amidst a volcanic father and three tyrannical thunder-lizard older sisters (weirdly Jurassic imagery, but I’ll go with it). She hid in her room hoping to be left alone. Like Fanny, her greatest fears were “of doing wrong and being looked at”—the phrase exactly describes her childhood, and at times her adulthood. She has Fanny’s mixture of over-scrupulous, accommodating tact and unexpected uncompromising obstinacy. And just as many readers say of Fanny, my girlfriend’s sisters complain that she’s self-righteous—which seems a weak charge, given that she knows all her sisters’ sources of pain and rage and could play on them if that sort of thing amused her. The realization of a flesh-and-blood Fanny analogue that doesn’t need to inflict revenge or displace grievance onto someone more vulnerable did much to suppress my initial, knowing suspicion of Fanny. And third, I came to this passage: Fanny's disposition was such that she could never even think of her aunt Norris in the meagreness and cheerlessness of her own small house, without reproaching herself for some little want of attention to her when they had been last together... Wow! So Fanny retains a reserve of compassion for her arch-tormentor, Mrs. Norris. That’s impressive. They know not what they do, for real. Like my girlfriend before her sisters, Fanny is more struck by the weakness that gives rise to bullying, than by the bullying itself. Fanny’s goodness is finally, completely plausible when we remember that she doesn’t see herself as a victim with a grievance to pass on, doesn’t see her tormentors as Goliaths deserving retaliation, direct or indirect. Mrs. Norris never looms too frightfully in Fanny’s imagination because as horrible as she may seek to be, to Fanny she is just a poor, lonely old lady, struggling to get by, and psychologically unequipped to cope civilly with hardship. Mrs. Norris’ bullying reveals a weakness, a wound to be tended, and a pitiable humanity. Louis Auchincloss, who as a WWII naval officer regretted not bringing a set of Austen on his long voyages, said that a great theme of Austen’s work is “moral beauty” as it occurs in dissimilar heroines. Fanny’s “moral beauty,” by which phrase I take Auchincloss to mean her empathic respect of the reality and vulnerability of other people—how many times is someone humiliated, made abject, with Fanny, alone among the witnesses, fully registering the emotional shock?—occurs in the teeth of circumstances we expect to inhibit the expression of such a beauty. Fanny has every expected, every natural excuse to behave like her aunt Norris and harried mother, individuals whose attention and conversation—whose humanity, essentially—have been careworn down to monomaniacal browbeating of immediate inferiors. Instead Fanny makes her position near the bottom of the heap the ground of empathy, the ground of humane attention and do-unto-others. Trilling says we no longer trust the sickly-saintly quietist Christian heroine. But we should. She’s an undeniable instance of the moral life surviving social life.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Painting on a Small Canvas: "Mansfield Park" by Jane Austen "Here's harmony!" said she; "here's repose! Here's what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what poetry only can attempt to describe! Here's what may tranquilize every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Painting on a Small Canvas: "Mansfield Park" by Jane Austen "Here's harmony!" said she; "here's repose! Here's what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what poetry only can attempt to describe! Here's what may tranquilize every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene." In “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen Many eons ago I was reading Austen's "Mansfield Park" in high school when the leader of a group of teenagers commented on the "puff with the specs reading girlie books." I paid him no mind at that particular moment. I waited till I could catch him alone in the playground without his bunch of cronies around him. I asked him then if he'd care to repeat what he'd said before. He said he didn't. The old adage you can't judge a book by its cover surely applies to the title as well. What's next? Nick Hornby's "About a Boy" should only appeal to paedophiles? "Animal Farm" to sheep-shaggers (or more accurately pig-shaggers). Such immature, hating comments belong in the 1970s. If you're into this kind of thing, click-through.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    I'm really not surprised that not a lot of people like Fanny Price. She's timid, moralistic and extremely passive. But really, what were people expecting her to do, exactly? Tell her cousin she loves him? B-slap Miss Crawford? Fanny is low in society, brought up to be grateful to everyone, and has no independence (dowry, etc,.). A lot of women were like that in those days. Many shy people also have a higher regard for authority than others, because of authority's 'better' judgement, and that is I'm really not surprised that not a lot of people like Fanny Price. She's timid, moralistic and extremely passive. But really, what were people expecting her to do, exactly? Tell her cousin she loves him? B-slap Miss Crawford? Fanny is low in society, brought up to be grateful to everyone, and has no independence (dowry, etc,.). A lot of women were like that in those days. Many shy people also have a higher regard for authority than others, because of authority's 'better' judgement, and that is why she's so unwilling to go against anyone's wishes. She is determined to please everyone, and therefore is unable to truly please herself. Fanny's story is one we all actually know - one of those situations in life where we have no power to do anything but watch. This is symbolised in the book when the other characters decide to start a play and Fanny refuses to take part; it is her status and her morals that prevent her from interferring in the plot, much as her being unable to act and unable to disobey her uncle stops her from joining in the play. She is moralistic - but she sticks to her morals, which is not something that can be called easy if it means having to disregard your own happiness sometimes. Personally, I think Fanny is one of Austen's most realistic heroines. Her flaws render her powerless. I did however resent the ending where Edmund suddenly realises he is in love with her and they get married. A bit too Harry Potter/Ginny Weasley for my liking (and I hated that relationship!). I would've preferred Fanny coming round to marrying Mr Crawford.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    This may even be more like a 2.5/5 idek. I overall really disliked these characters and this story and also this book was LONG AS HECK. Everyone was the worst except Fanny, who was only the worst about the first 25% of the book. What I DID like is having a girl who is perceived as weak and quiet and shy STAND UP TO A GUY SHE DIDN'T LIKE. Like ESP in a novel of this time, having this girl be like nah you're all wrong, even when it changed people's good opinion over, was just so great. And her contin This may even be more like a 2.5/5 idek. I overall really disliked these characters and this story and also this book was LONG AS HECK. Everyone was the worst except Fanny, who was only the worst about the first 25% of the book. What I DID like is having a girl who is perceived as weak and quiet and shy STAND UP TO A GUY SHE DIDN'T LIKE. Like ESP in a novel of this time, having this girl be like nah you're all wrong, even when it changed people's good opinion over, was just so great. And her continuing to stick to her beliefs and morals throughout the whole book was a++++ Edmund was okay except being an idiot most of the book. Sir Thomas got much better as it went on. Everyone else was the worst THE END.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)

    Quiet strength is STILL strength (Aka, my girl Fanny gets a bad rap.) RTC

  29. 4 out of 5

    Apatt

    I generally avoid romance novels like the proverbial plague but, for some reason, I keep coming back to Jane Austen. I love her prose and dialogues but her tales of “conjugal felicity” are usually less than riveting for me. Still, I keep coming back for more of her romantic shenanigans so I guess – for me – her prose is more important than her plot at least where Austen is concerned. So I started Mansfield Park with some trepidation, once again wondering why I bother. The Telegraph’s declaration I generally avoid romance novels like the proverbial plague but, for some reason, I keep coming back to Jane Austen. I love her prose and dialogues but her tales of “conjugal felicity” are usually less than riveting for me. Still, I keep coming back for more of her romantic shenanigans so I guess – for me – her prose is more important than her plot at least where Austen is concerned. So I started Mansfield Park with some trepidation, once again wondering why I bother. The Telegraph’s declaration that this is “Jane Austen’s least-loved novel” did not bode well for me, but lo and behold!, as early as Chapter One I found myself digging the book, in other words I was happy to give it my complete approbation. “Least-loved novel”? Tcha! Upon my word! etc. I think with this book Austen was firing from all cylinders, telling an interesting and psychologically complex yarn through her reliably gorgeous prose. Like all Jane Austen novels Mansfield Park focuses on a single female protagonist, Miss Fanny Price on this occasion. What confounded my expectation immediately is that her childhood in the first chapter is one of privation. When she moves from her crappy family home to live with her rich aunt she is a fish out of water and regarded by the residents of her aunt’s house (the eponymous Mansfield Park) as something of a plebeian; what with her inability to play any musical instrument and ignorance of geography etc. The only kindness she receives is from super nice boy Edmund Bertram who can immediately be identified as the book’s romantic interest. Still the circuitous route to the eventual romantic relationship is even more circuitous than usual. Fanny Price has a much harder time of it than other Austen heroines, though Thomas Hardy’s heroines would have scoffed at her difficulties. Mansfield Park is populated with quite a few colorful characters, there is the womanizing cad Henry Crawford who is a stock Austen antagoist, his sister Mary who is an evil sultry seductress, a nasty bwitchy aunt*, and Sir Thomas Bertram, a stick in the mud rich uncle. Interestingly the adjective “colorful” cannot be applied to the two main characters Fanny and Edmund. In fact this book’s unpopularity among die hard Janeites mostly stems from Fanny’s doormat-ish character, always shy and retiring, humble and repressed, the polar opposite of Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet. Yet, in her defence Fanny is sharp as a pin, she is more akin to Agatha Christies’s Miss Marple than Liz Bennet. She can quickly and accurately sum up people’s true characters regardless of their surface attraction or amiability. This acute power of observation serves her well when practically all the characters in the book gang up on her to persuade or pressurize her into marrying the wealthy and slick Henry Crawford. Doormat or no she stands her ground and is completely vindicated by the end of the book. “I think it ought not to be set down as certain that a man must be acceptable to every woman he may happen to like himself.” I think this is a key passage that nicely encapsulates her attitude. Much as I like the book I do find the ending quite predictable, Austen seems to always resort to an “elopement crisis” to create a climactic drama, and while there are some signs that Henry may reform through the love of a good woman he reverts back to his traditional Austen villain role. I would really like to see an unconventional ending to what is already an unconventional Austen adventure. Still I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can – for once – recommend it unconditionally. * Mrs. Norris is a nasty piece of work, but within Jane Austen's limited scope of nastiness. The worst thing I can imagine doing to an Austen villain is to waggle my finger at them with extreme prejudice. Notes I read/listened to the free audiobook version beautifully read by Karen Savage, in her soothing and pretty voice. Thank you Ms. Savage. If you (for some reason) like this review, kindly check out my other Austentatious reviews: • Pride and Prejudice • Sense and Sensibility • Emma • Persuasion • Northanger Abbey Whovian corner (dedicated to my dear friend Cecily) Billie Piper as Fanny Price: ‘Nuff said!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Markus

    Mansfield Park is probably Austen's least liked novel. Northanger Abbey may be flawed, but it's a romp and a quick read; Persuasion may be dark, but it's tender and passionate, and contains quite possibly Austen's greatest proposal ever. But what does Mansfield Park have to offer? A heroine who possesses every 18th-century feminine virtue? Hardly a recommendation to a 21st-century reader. A main character so physically delicate one can hardly imagine her surviving her wedding night, let alone ch Mansfield Park is probably Austen's least liked novel. Northanger Abbey may be flawed, but it's a romp and a quick read; Persuasion may be dark, but it's tender and passionate, and contains quite possibly Austen's greatest proposal ever. But what does Mansfield Park have to offer? A heroine who possesses every 18th-century feminine virtue? Hardly a recommendation to a 21st-century reader. A main character so physically delicate one can hardly imagine her surviving her wedding night, let alone childbirth? Again -- no thanks. A girl who spends the novel being miserable when those around her are happy and vice versa? Problematic at best. None of which explains why I've read this book so often, and why I prefer it to Persuasion. This edition is superb. The accompanying essays are well chosen and illuminating. I found Joseph Lew's "Mansfield Park And The Dynamics of Slavery" especially valuable. UPDATE: Why the heck does Deborah like this unlikable book so much? Fanny Price is in many ways a difficult heroine for most of us to love or relate to. She is ridiculously timid and fragile. She meekly accepts whatever's handed to her, and then apologizes for having taken too much. She's sometimes preachy. And, worst of all, she reads a lot, but never novels. (shudder) The guy she falls for is equally unattractive. I'm willing to bet actual physical money that no Austen fan has ever had a crush on Edmund Bertram. He's often pompous, occasionally hypocritical, and breathtakingly oblivious of the GINORMOUS crush Fanny's had on him since she was transplanted from her parents' home to his at an early age. Also, he's her first cousin, and while it was perfectly acceptable for such relations to marry at the time, it's a little skeevy for many modern readers. Other Austen heroines have some adventures, or at least some fun: they travel, have picnics, go dancing, ride with cute guys in carriages, and attend parties. Fanny Price rarely does anything at all, and when she does it's generally a disaster. Her happiest days are the ones where she's left entirely alone and unharassed to read or sew in the cold, isolated room she's allowed to call her own (because it's too uncomfortable for anyone else to want). And then, to top it all off, when a rich amoral rake gets a crush on her, everyone else approves of his relentless pursuit of Fanny and she's condemned for protesting that she simply can't give herself to such a man. So why the heck do I reread this book so often? I think because in many ways, this is a very rich novel -- the closest Austen ever comes to an epic family saga. It begins before Fanny is even born, and so we're given the only glimpse ever seen of an Austen heroine as a child. There's also a great deal of very convincing conversation, a lot of it about privilege and power. I enjoy that kind of thing. And Mary Crawford, a sort of anti-heroine, is a terrifyingly attractive character. How on earth can Fanny Price stand a chance against her? Fanny Price is physically weak, but she's the only character who has a functioning moral compass, and is ultimately incorruptible. She is genuinely virtuous. But she's also human. She struggles. She isn't effortlessly perfect. She is sometimes angry with those around her for not seeing the harm they're doing. She suffers more than any Austen heroine, and at one point is in real danger. But her sorrows and struggles are convincing, rather than 18th-century melodrama. Some of them are all too easy to relate to. Also, the characterization is fantastic. Fanny's father is brilliantly unlike any other Austen character. Mary Crawford is chillingly like Austen's Lady Susan. And her brother -- well, his pursuit of Fanny Price is, I must admit, kind of creepy and sexy at the same time. The intensity of his desire not just to marry but to conquer her is darkly sexual. I'm sure there are about 7 million naughty fan-fiction stories out there based on the premise of his winning this erotic struggle. So, yes, this book is hard to love. But I think it's worth the work. I adored Fanny Price the first time I read it; despised her the second time through; and now have a reasonable affection for her -- and an unreasonable admiration for this novel.

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