Persuasion is an exquisite novel. It has one of the most expert depictions of inner emotional experience that I think—that I know—I’ve ever read. Persuasion is not a novel about Anne Elliot; it’s a novel that is Anne Elliot. This is a novel that lives and breathes in its character’s psyche. Its emotional nuance and minuteness allows it to derive its most significant, personal moments from those that seem the most unremarkable: fleeting moments of eye contact, perfunctory questions, gestures of politeness. And so just like life’s, the stuff of Persuasion is more about derived rather than imposed meaning: the novel doesn’t need to orchestrate for events to happen on a grand scale for those events to be considered momentous and so meaningful.Instead, it’s concerned, in Austen’s words, with the “solid” and the “substance”—what something appears to be and what it actually is—and how its characters, namely Anne, discern and make meaning out of the discrepancies between the two.
anne elliot: *exists*
Oh, and also, Anne Elliot is just a marvel of a character. I love her so much, and I always feel for her so immensely.No, I’ve never had my engagement to a man broken off only to have that same man come back 8 years later and propose to me again—but I might as well have, because I could so easily identify with Anne. She really is, as Austen describes her, a combination of fortitude and gentleness, a character whose hold on you is all the more remarkable because she never outright demands any attention—she earns it.
Anyway, I love this book, if you couldn’t tell.