Reread “Persuasion”

The book ruined my weekend. I couldn’t put it down before finishing it and ended up spending Saturday and a large portion of Sunday reading through it.
I don’t know how many times I’ve read this book, but reading it again enables me to find something new. The narratives are accurate, persuasive, eloquent, and witty. The flow of the text, the transitions between passages, the depiction of characters are wonderful. Adding to these merits, the whole book is compact and engaging. One is almost forced to continue reading it despite having read it so many times, despite the fact that I’ve known the plot by heart and there’s not supposed to be any surprises for me anymore.
Yet the curiosity of reading ahead is still there. This new reading shows me a distinct dichotomy of the book–first half in Uppercross and second half in Bath;this new reading again, as I’ve become accustomed to already, shows me how much more Jane Austen’s book is about the narration, sarcasm about the social system and human characters, how much less about the romance between the main characters. Actually there are not much interactions between the main characters–they don’t meet so frequently, they don’t talk much when they meet, they don’t interact much as lovers usually do. Actually Mary Musgrove speaks much, in her rambling insensible way, more than Captain Wentworth does. Even Ann’s father, sister, Charles Musgrove’s, Lady Russel receive almost as much, if not more, description than Captain Wentworth. Still, it doesn’t matter. It’s not about romance at all. The book is an ironic display of the society in its best manners.
I wonder if it would be more realistic to depict Mr. Eliot as a young idler, selfish but harmless. Did he have to be villain for the book to be more interesting? It might just be a fashion at the beginning of 19th century that a villain has to be identified and chastised.

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