Virtue and Romance: Allan Bloom on Jane Austen and Aristotelian Ethics (Critical Essay)
Modern Age 2010, Wntr, 52, 1
This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.
Within Allan Bloom's last book, Love and Friendship, stands a chapter on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. (1) The chapter is short--just over seventeen pages in length--but that it exists at all in a volume that features Plato and Rousseau may be surprising to many. Nevertheless, Bloom offers an incisive if unorthodox interpretation of Austen's novel, ultimately suggesting that Austen advances a position that features a unique combination of modern romantic love and ancient friendship. That the translator of Emile sees echoes of modern romanticism in Austen's books is hardly to be wondered at, for her works display many themes that are reminiscent of Rousseau: marriage is the foundation of society and for most, the source of meaning and purpose in life; social barriers such as class often present themselves as unjust obstacles to romantic desire; chastity is the prerequisite of strong romantic attachment; differences between males and females are augmented rather than minimized: the rural is superior to the urban; sentiment tends to be predominant. What is perhaps unexpected, though, is Bloom's insistence on "Austen's classical preferences," on her appearance "as a partisan of Aristotelian rationalism against the dominant principles of modernity," and on her desire "to celebrate classical friendship as the core of romantic love." (2) Without claiming that Austen actually read Aristotle, we may accept and even extend Bloom's claim that there is a strong Aristotelian element in her work. Indeed, Bloom attributes to Austen a unique and daring synthesis between modern marriage and classical friendship, but does not think that her attempt to reconcile these elements wholly succeeds. Nevertheless, his refutation does not take into account that Austen has anticipated and answered his objections in her fiction. We may, therefore, accept Bloom's interpretation of Austen while rejecting his evaluation.
- Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
- Published: Jan 01, 2010
- Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute Inc.
- Seller: The Gale Group, Inc.
- Print Length: 28 Pages
- Language: English