資料彙整   /   作家  /  Jane  Austen  珍•奧斯汀
Jane  Austen
珍•奧斯汀
圖片來源:etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/ a/austen/jane/
主要文類:Novel
資料提供者:Dr. Margarette R Connor;Julia Hsieh/謝佩璇
關鍵字詞:Novels into Film

Jane Austen 珍.奧斯汀
1775-1817

Julia Hsieh 謝佩璇


 家庭環境背景


珍.奧斯汀也許終其一生也未曾想像其作品受歡迎的程度會使她成為極具指標意義的劃時代作家之一。身為奧斯汀家的第七個小孩,珍和她唯一的姊姊卡珊卓拉與其他兄弟們一般,從小就受到其父喬治.奧斯汀牧師與其母卡珊卓拉.李女士積極鼓勵文學閱讀、書寫創作。牛津大學畢業的父親致力於培養孩子們的智能發展及人文素養,儘管傳道工作微薄收入未能使奧斯汀家過著豐裕的生活,虔誠的奧斯汀夫婦在女方來自上流社會家族的協助、影響中,也得以讓奧斯汀家的孩子們在良好的環境中學習成長。小名珍妮的珍.奧斯汀上有六名兄姊,分別是:成年後繼父親衣缽成為牧師的長兄詹姆士、因生患殘疾而自小交付寄養家庭卻也鮮少與奧斯汀家有交集的的二哥小喬治、受奧斯汀家的贊助施主湯瑪士二世收養的三哥愛德華、性好冒險後歸於平靜的傳道生活的四哥亨利、排行第五的姊姊卡珊卓拉比珍年長兩歲,她與珍相伴一生、六哥法藍西斯志願從軍,十二歲便離家加入海軍,他與奧斯汀的唯一弟弟查爾斯一同在西印度群島服役,他們榮耀返鄉時已成年,並且照顧奧斯汀家姊妹及年老的母親。

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 封閉的交遊圈

 
A. 閨中密友
 


珍.奧斯汀與其姊卡珊卓拉就如她知名的作品《傲慢與偏見》書中的班奈家姊妹依莉莎白與珍一般有著深厚感情,一生都未婚並守著家庭、看顧彼此。她們的牧師父親不僅鼓勵她們發展興趣,並且讓她們與奧斯汀家兄弟一樣接受良好教育。一七八三年兩姊妹與其表姊珍.古柏在牛津接受布萊森諾斯學院院長遺孀-柯禮太太的教導。不幸的是,奧斯汀姊妹後因感染斑疹傷寒,奧斯汀太太與古柏太太接到珍.古柏的來信隨即將表姊妹三人帶回家。病癒之後奧斯汀姊妹在柏克夏的都河內太太指導的住宿學校就讀,但一年之後姊妹倆因為奧斯汀家無法負擔昂貴的學費而返家,卡珊卓拉與珍也因而從此便在家開始自學的日子。卡珊卓拉的安定性格和堅定的信念伴隨珍渡過生命中的大半歲月,身為姊姊的她也在未婚夫湯姆.福爾牧師在西印度群島病逝之後,漸漸遠離社交圈進入半退隱的狀態。

除了卡珊卓拉之外,珍也與她的表姊依莉莎白十分要好,依莉莎白第一任法國丈夫菲列德伯爵被處死之後回到英國,她爾後與珍的四哥亨利成婚。珍.奧斯汀在家庭圈以外的親密友人包括奧斯汀家的鄰居-樂福依夫人、瑪莎與瑪莉.洛伊姊妹以及依莉莎白、凱蒂與愛莉西亞.畢格姊妹。飽讀詩書且宅心仁厚的樂福依夫人與其夫婿牧師來自於較為富裕的環境,她平常在教區裡教導貧戶人家的孩子,也是珍的忠實讀者,並鼓勵其發展她的寫作長才。瑪莎與瑪莉兩姊妹住在奧斯汀家的鄰近地區,雖然兩人年歲略長於珍與卡珊卓拉,在她們搬離教區之前,一直與奧斯汀姊妹保持真摯親密的友誼。在洛伊姊妹搬家以後,畢格姊妹們遷入教區,從此這幾個年紀相仿又未婚的女孩成為好友,經常性的往來拜訪彼此。
 
B. 傳聞中的羅曼史
 


珍.奧斯汀也許一生過著平淡的生活,交遊對象也多是家族成員,但對照她的經歷、家庭背景以及交友圈和她極具戲劇張力的小說,不難看出她的故事題材往往來自於不平凡的敏銳觀察力和易感的心。這位才華洋溢的作者在屆成年之際的確曾經被正式介紹融入當地的社交生活,並曾經流傳過幾段未竟的戀情。一七九五年,樂福依牧師夫婦的侄兒湯姆.樂福依來訪,這位年輕英俊的英國著名三一學院的畢業生在造訪教區期間,與珍一同參加幾場舞會,並且對彼此都有十分深刻的印象。然而,樂福依夫人擔心,一旦這段戀情形成氣候,以奧斯汀家的經濟窘境和侄兒湯姆的求學與家庭境況,在在顯示若珍與湯姆成婚,未來的生活可能十分困苦。因此,兩個月之後,樂福依夫婦便催促湯姆前往倫敦繼續他的法學院學業。自此之後,珍再沒有湯姆的消息,她也在傷心之餘,逐漸內斂自己的感情。

奧斯汀姊妹與畢格-偉勒家姊妹熟識之後,也因此認識了畢格姊妹的兄弟-哈理斯.畢格偉勒。一八○二年夏天,奧斯汀姊妹遠遊渡假,在返家途中,她們應邀留在位於蔓尼當的畢格家作客。珍一度接受哈理斯的求婚,卻又在隔天反悔後,旋即與姊姊卡珊卓拉返家。

儘管關於珍.奧斯汀的情史眾說紛紜,所有的證據、真相都在珍過世後,卡珊卓拉燒毀珍的私人祕密信件之中成為永遠的謎團。也有傳言說珍曾經有過門當戶對的對象,可能是軍人、可能是牧師,但在這不知名年輕男子英年早逝之際,珍傷心欲絕從此不婚,將所有的悲傷與失落付諸文字。也因此,有學者將她筆下的女主人翁在戀愛中經歷的悲喜認為是珍.奧斯汀親身經驗的寫照。

 

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寫作生涯及文學經歷


在十九世紀初,普世價值認為:為人妻和為人母為當代女人的必須經歷。儘管出身中產階級的女人有更多資源、經濟來源,也被社會允許追求知識學問,一切的學習卻仍以培養稱職的妻子和母親兩種角色為前提。來自年輕的中產階級家庭的女孩們學習琴棋書畫舞蹈,為的是學習最重要的課題:如何培養自己成為婚姻市場上的出色待嫁娘,而珍.奧斯汀也不例外,只不過她更執著自己的興趣,發揮自己的長才,在散文、小說創作之中得到情感的抒發。

十一歲的時候,珍便開始認真的寫作,首篇作品《朱凡妮莉雅》( Juvenilia )在一七九三年完成。她接著開始寫一篇短篇小說《蘇珊夫人》( Lady Suzan )並且構思《愛莉諾與瑪莉安》( Elinor and Marianne )。後者在一七九七年的時候完成,更名為《理性與感性》( Sense and Sensibility )。有學者認為,她在一八一一年完成的《第一印象》( First Impression ),後更名為《傲慢與偏見》( Pride and Prejudice )是她與湯姆.樂福依的戀情告終並且因為在樂福依家為她舉辦的舞會中被冷落而顯得落寞孤單的場景重現。雖然這部著作在奧斯汀牧師的奔走欲出版的努力之中終究未果,珍與其父親並不因此而喪志。一七八九年,珍開始構圖《蘇珊》一書( Susan ),兩年後她完成並將其更名為《 諾桑覺修道院》( Northanger Abbey )。此部小說在一八○三年賣出版權給克洛斯比,不過他並未依約出版。之後一年,珍開始另一本小說《華森家》( Watsons ),不過她並未完成這部作品。在一八一一年,經歷數次出版挫折,她的《理性與感性》終於出版。珍大受鼓舞並開始重新修訂《傲慢與偏見》,並在一八一三年時,順利出版該書。同年,她的《曼斯菲爾莊園》也獲出版通知,但努力不懈的珍.奧斯汀並未因此而停下腳步,她開始著手佈局下一本小說《愛瑪》( Emma )與《勸服》( Persuasion )。一八一五年冬天,《愛瑪》出版,這時珍的病情每下愈況,但她仍舊忍著病痛完成《勸服》一書。一八一七年夏天,珍.奧斯汀留下另一部未完成的小說與世長辭,享年四十六歲。

 

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作品風格及文學經歷


閱讀珍.奧斯汀的作品,讀者可以窺見她敏銳的觀察力與細膩的刻畫每個角色人物、安排故事場景。她的小說主人翁及中心人物多為女性,由各個女主人翁本身或周遭的人物所談論的話題、日常瑣碎的對話以及繁複的家務事描述,讀者可以見識珍奧斯汀當代的歷史背景,而機智的對話和大量出現的反諷法出現在看似小格局的家庭生活也正是她最擅長描寫的題材與方法。

珍奧斯汀的作品其實並不只是描寫中產階級社會,仔細閱讀她的小說敘述以及故事背景,字裡行間透露出的還包括十九世紀的某些社會政經發展的闡述,其中還包括中下階級貧困家庭生活的窘境。一如《傲慢與偏見》中顯示珍奧斯汀當代英國仍實行的不人道鞭刑,當時英國論壇出現鞭刑廢行的辯論,在珍奧斯汀的《傲慢與偏見》一書中可窺見一二;又如《曼斯菲爾莊園》中,主人翁芬妮的貧困家庭與湯瑪斯爵爺的富裕莊園形成強烈對比。此書另外觸及奴隸制度與黑奴交易,刻畫莊園內上流社會中發生的醜陋寫實的道德淪喪寫實現象。在珍奧斯汀所出版的六部小說之中,由她對於社會貧弱族群的小規模描述,讀者能夠對十九世紀的社會變動、社會階級、貧富差異的景況略知一二。

儘管出版著作的女作家往往被撻罰認為是女性不適當的行徑,甚或者被社會以奇異敵視的眼光對待,珍奧斯汀為她的作品、她的年代發聲,為她的創作而努力,突破種種在文藝界女性所受的不平等待遇與侷限。她曾經寫信給出版商與雜誌社反應她的心聲,也在屢屢受挫之後,不氣餒地繼續創作出精彩的經典之作。直至今日,她的作品在現代人的娛樂生活中在在成為題材被多次搬上螢幕,這也是她在文學造就出來的鮮明人物、場景一直到現在或以後還會持續令讀者津津樂道的經典文藝創作。

 

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Jane Austen

Julia Hsieh 謝佩璇


 Main Family Circle
 
Close relationship
 
Writing and Publication
 
Austen's Writing Styles and Criticism on Her Works

 Main Family Circle


Possibly never did Jane Austen dream of her being one of the many iconic writers whose works are deemed the transcendent classics. She was the seventh child among the eight children in the Austen family. Born to Reverend George Austen and Cassandra Leigh Austen, Austen and her siblings were all encouraged to read and write, engaging in literature as much as possible. As George graduated from Tonbridge School at Oxford University , he spared no effort in educating and invigorating his children's intellectual life. The family lived a modest life that the religious parents tried to meet the ends by serving the parish, and yet, with Cassandra Austen's connection with her upper-social-ranking origin, the parson and his wife had provided their children with better learning environment, compared with other regular parson family. Nicknamed "Jenny," Austen had six brothers: James, the eldest son of the family, turned to be a rector of Steventon; George junior, the second son, was born handicapped and possibly suffered much in terms of physical and intellectual growth, was sent away at rather young age to a foster family for better care; Edward was adopted by Rev. George's benefactor Mr. Thomas Knight II of Godmersham Park at Kent; Henry followed his brother's footsteps into John's College and was a very active and adventurous person that later he joined the army, but returned to his homeland to be a clergyman with his cousin and wife, Elize, the widow of the French astocrat Jean Capotte, Comte de Feuillide. Cassandra, Austen's elder sister was born two years ahead of her remained her best friend and unmarried like her; Francis, the fifth son of the family, was educated at the Royal naval Academy in Portsmouth at twelve, and so did Austen's younger brother, Charles, the youngest son of the family. Francis and Charles turned out to be renowned officers that had served the country in West Indies .

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 Close relationship

 

A. Female companions
 
Just like two main female characters Elizabeth and Jane Bennet in her famous work Pride and Prejudice , Austen remained a close relationship with her elder sister Cassandra all her life. As Rev. George provided his daughters equivalent chances of studies like Austen boys, the two Austen sisters were sent for study at Oxford college in 1783, under the instruction of Mrs. Cawley, the widow of the Principal of Brasenose College at Oxford . Nevertheless, before long, their cousin Jane Cooper wrote home to report the critical condition of the Austen sister's contraction of typhus, and hence Cassandra and little Jane were sent home. After that, the two girls were sent away to Mrs. la Tournelle 's Ladies Boarding School in Reading, Berkshire for one year; they returned home and remained a rather close intimacy with the family and led an uneventful life ever since. It is Cassandra's steady character and sturdy judgments that consoled Jane through good times and bad times. Moreover, after Tom Fowle, a young reverend who was once engaged to Cassandra, passed away in West Indies , Cassandra started her life half retreated and withdrawn from society.

Besides her sister, Austen grew a close friendship with Elizabeth, her cousin that married Comte Feuillide and later became her sister-in-law by marrying Henry Austen. the Austen sisters also befriended with their neighbors, Madam Lefroy, who was the intelligent and well-learned wife of one better-off reverand, George Lefroy in the parish of Ashe. Anne Lefroy, known as "Madam Lefroy to the Austens, had great influence on Austen in terms of her inspiring and encouragement on Austen in her writing and intellectual growth. Martha and Mary Lloyd, both of who were older than Cassandra and Jane Austen, remained close friends with the Austen girls until they left the parish. But Jane and Cassandra soon made friends with Elizabeth , Kitty and Alethea, the three unmarried sisters of the Bigg family.


 

B. Possible romantic relationship
 


Despite Austen's private and unexciting life that was very much limited to the domestic circle, it is believed that the gifted writer was once introduced to "society" and even involved with several candidates of marriage for her. In 1795, Tom Lefroy who had just graduated from Trinity College , Dublin , paid his uncle Mr. Lefroy a visit. During two months, Tom and Jane were seen at several balls dancing and flirting, and that growing relationship did make Madam Lefroy concerned: as a good friend of the Austens and Jane herself, she was worried about the possible poverty-ridden future life of the two souls should they by any chance be married. Madam Lefroy, therefore, sent Tom away for his further legal studies in London , and Austen had never heard from him. Lefroy turned out to be the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland .

Austen's friendship with the Bigg-Withers sisters further acquainted her with their brother, Hrris Bigg-Withers. In the summer of 1802, when Cassandra and Jane stayed at Steventon for the short interval before returning to Bath , they visited the Biggs at Manydown. Harris Bigg-Wither proposed to Austen and she accepted it; only that the second day she regretted and withdrew her consent of marrying him.

Though other romances of Austens came in obscures, as Cassandra also burnt all of Austen's intimate letters, there were stories about her affection toward other suitable men for marriage, and among all, there was one whose sudden death probably desolated Austen so much that she disclosed her anxiety and distress of failing in love. As scholars interpreted her works with attention on how she described the emotional undergoing of her female characters through the happiness of being in love and the heartbreaks of being failed in love.

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 Writing and Publication


Women of Austen's time in early nineteenth century were mostly expected to fulfill two major roles: wife and mother. Though middle class women were given more liberty to acquire knowledge and intellectually involved in domestic circle and public domain, their major concerns toward life were very limited to their capacity to marriage market. The Austen girls were taught to read, to dance, Austen herself was much addicted to prose fiction and began to write very young at age, with her whole family as the readers.

About the age of eleven, Austen started writing the piece known as Juvenilia and finished it at around the summer of 1793. The proceeding year, she possibly composed the novella Lady Susan and began to work on Elinor and Marianne , which turned out to be renamed as Sense and Sensibility after her consecutive revisions in 1797. Some Austen scholars result her subsiding affair with Tom Lefroy and her later failure in love, in getting attention in several deliberately-arranged balls at the Lefroys' in Auten's initiation of First Impression , which she revised and renamed as Pride and Prejudice in 1811. Even though the first version of the novel was rejected by publisher Cadell, Mr. Austen was not discouraged and nor was his daughter. In 1798, Austen began to plan Susan ; she finished it and changed the name to Northanger Abbey two years later. The novel was sold to publisher Crosby in 1803, but he did not keep his words of bringing it out. The year after, she started to work on The Watsons but she left it unfinished. After several attempts and failures of having her works published, finally in 1811, Austen's Sense and Sensibility was brought out. This news hit Austen with inspiration and fortification about her works so that she kept revising First Impression and changed the name of the novel; Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 winter, and this same year, Egerton granted for the publication of Mansfield Park . Austen did not rest thence, for she started to plan Emma and Persuasion in the succeeding two years, and she got Emma published in the winter of 1815. By this time, the health of this forty-five-year-old writer descended, but she strived to have Persuasion even on her sick bed. Strong-willed as she was, Austen started to write another novel called Sanditon , yet she was forced to drop it and left it unaccomplished in the spring of 1816. She deceased on July 18 th , 1817 and was buried in Winchester Cathedral. In the winter, Murray published Northanger Abbey and Persuasion with Henry Austen's biographical notices.

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 Austen's Writing Styles and Criticism on Her Works


One look into the plots and characters of Austen's works, we see her keen observation and skillful portraits of each heroines, which are usually the pivotal attention of her novels. With her vibrant sketch of women's life through daily dialogues and the doings of household chores, the readers are given chances to peek into Austen's contemporary condition. The witty dialogues and irony in the plots unveils the middle-class microcosmic domestic circle, which is the center of spot light that Austen's familiar with.

Austen's works are not simply about middle-class society, nevertheless, but a scrutinizing look into her depictions and settings, it is never difficult to find realistic pictures of her time, social or political environment and the lower-class community. For instance, in Pride and Prejudice , Austen discloses the fact that the controversial punishing measure of flogging was still practiced in her time; in Mansfield Park , the readers get glimpse of disparity between Fanny's family and Sir Thomas's household. In almost all her six novels, despite that she merely touched on the living stance of the minority groups with small portion of description, Austen did demonstrate the contrast of people's lives among different social hierarchies and status.

Scarce did Jane Austen made a big fortune out of her works, nor did she receive much attention from the public, but later scholars like Sir Walter Scott did pay compliment on Austen's rhetoric and realistic illustration of the characters and emotional sophistication in life. There were criticisms on the miniature of Austen's society, on her slow pace in description, on Austen's discretion of the passions, and on her "silent treatment" toward serious discrepancy of the rich and the poor.

An outstanding female writer of her time, in spite of the fact that women published writers might be deemed inappropriate and be maltreated with public hostility, Austen fought for the limitations and inequity of female stance in literary arena by writing and perseveringly submitting her works to magazines and publishers. The integrity of her styles in narration has drawn attention transhistorically. Till today, organizations like Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) still celebrates, appreciates and reminds us how much Austen has dedicated to literature and the knowledge of her time through her vigorous heroines that speak for her.

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Reference

Jones, Darryl. Jane Austen. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Kelly, Gary. "Jane Austen." Ed. Bradford K. Mudge. Dictionary of Literary Biography: British Romantic Novelists, 1789-1832. Vol. 116. Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Gale Group, 1992. 3-35.

Le Faye, Deirdre. The British Library Writers' Lives: Jane Austen. London: The British Library, 1998.

Maupin, Amy B. "Jane Austen." Ed. Ted Hipple. Writers for Young Adults. Supplement I . Charles Scribner's Sons, 2000. Gale Group.

Shields, Carol. Jane Austen. New York : Viking Penguin, 2001.

Southam, Brian. "Jane Austen." British Writers. Vol. 4. The Scribner Writers Series. British Council, 1981. 101-124.

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