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By Charles Dantzig

« Chef-d'œuvre. » Quand ce très vieux mot du Moyen Âge utilisé pour l'artisanat a-t-il commencé à être appliqué à los angeles littérature ? Y a-t-il un critère du chef-d'œuvre littéraire ? Mieux, une recette ? remark être sûr qu'un livre est un chef-d'œuvre ? Un chef-d'œuvre est-il éternel ? los angeles postérité est-elle le bon juge ? Crée-t-on encore des chefs-d'œuvre aujourd'hui ? remark définir le chef-d'œuvre ?

C'est à toutes ces questions que tente de répondre ce livre. Parcourant les grands livres, de Homère à Heine et de Boccace à Beckett, il suggest une examine inattendue de l'œuvre de James Joyce aussi bien que des considérations sur ce que l'on peut penser des Aristochats de Walt Disney. Charles Dantzig montre encore une fois que l'on peut associer le brillant et los angeles réflexion, los angeles virtuosité et los angeles profondeur, l'érudition et l'esprit.

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Edmund’s presence at Thornton Lacy provides the excuse rather than the occasion for Sir Thomas’s visits there, and the marriage is presented primarily in terms of the opportunities it affords for “the mutual attachment” of Fanny and Sir Thomas to become “quite strong” (472). Through the pious mediation of Edmund, Sir Thomas the Pygmalion has indirectly shaped Fanny to fit his desire, and by the end of the novel, Fanny’s point of view has been entirely coopted by that of her guardian and father-in-law: the parsonage is “as perfect in her eyes, as everything else within the view and patronage of Mansfield Park,” but her eyes are no longer her own (473).

The novel generates love that readers experience not in their own persons but in that of Elizabeth Bennet and bestow not on Austen but on Mr. Darcy. If Pride and Prejudice focuses erotic attention on its hero rather than its narrator, this is not for any lack of seductive potential on the narrator’s part. On the contrary, Darcy borrows much of his appeal from the narrator, the figure initially offered up for the reader’s cathexis. In her famous first sentence, the narrator of Pride and Prejudice adopts a role she enjoys today among Janeites, that of a prophet of love, and uses that role first to fl atter and then to dash the romantic hopes of a particular sort of reader with whom all readers of the novel are invited to identify, a woman in love with and eager to marry a single, rich man.

Moreover, instead of contenting themselves, as eighteenth-century quixotes must, with approximate reenactments of plots designed for others, the players of Ask Austen enjoy romances composed just for them by the great author. Fowler’s narrator exults, “We’d let Austen into our lives, and now we were all either married or dating” (249). Whether the players owe their new love matches more to their successful compliance with Austen’s advice (her omniscience) or to her sheer authorial will (her omnipotence) is not obvious, but in a novel that scants living sweethearts to focus on each character’s rebirth in Austen, it is clear that spouses and dates are ( 32 ) Jane Austen’s Erotic Advice valuable mainly as proofs of election, as steppingstones on the way to the author.

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