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A Reading of Mansfield Park

Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire:

A few years ago, there were "group reads" of Mansfield Park on two different listservs--one on Austen-L, the listserv hosted by McGill University, owned and managed by Michael Walsh; the other on Litalk-L, the listserv hosted by Middle Tenessee State University, owned and managed by Elvira Casal. The interested reader will find my essay-postings written during more than one read and discussion or thread on Mansfield Park below. I have also included some of the essay-postings I wrote while a group of us also on Austen-l and Janeites read Austen criticism together. As with all the other group conversation and single essays I have placed on the Net, I have altered the postings slightly so as to make for continuity and have occasionally rearranged them or rewritten a header so the reader can follow the conversation as one would a story. Read as a series they form a close reading of Mansfield Park for the common reader and against a scholarly critical background.

For an excellent edition of Elizabeth Inchbald's Lovers' Vows based on the 5th edition (1798), click here; and for the calendar which undergirds the patterning and structure of the plot-line of Mansfield Park, click here.

For two reviews of the 1999 film adaptations of Mansfield Park by Patricia Rozema click here.


             Gard's Art of Clarity: The Underdog, Vulnerable, & Nervous; Flaubert & James; Caroline Austen
             Tanner: "Quiet Thing": Fanny as the Cynosure of MP
             Trilling on Mansfield Park

Volume I, Chapters 1-2

             The Opening Phase
             Edmund and Fanny when young
             Jane Austen and Fanny Price as Fringe People

Volume I, Chapters 1-3

             Problems with the Narrator

Volume I, Chapters 1-4

             The Problem of Edmund

Volume I, Chapters 1-7

             Lady Bertram A Cleverer Lady than one thinks

Volume I, Chapters 2-4

             Fanny Gets Used To It: Emotion and Consummate Artistry

Volume I, Chapter 3

             Sir Thomas's Trip to Antigua and Elizabeth Inchbald's Simple Story

Volume I, Chapters 3-4

             The Understated Cinderella

Volume I, Chapters 3-5

             'Fanny Must Have a Horse'
             Mary and Henry Crawford Are Introduced

Volume I, Chapters 3-7

             The Lady and Her Harp, the Gentleman's Desire to Work as A Clergyman

Volume I, Chapter 6

             'Does not it make you think of Cowper?'
             Mary Crawford's Harp and Slavery, with more on Mrs Norris, not so favorable
             Mary Crawford No Slave Woman
             'God made the country, man made the town' or the 'Active' Rich Lady and Her Harp

Volume I, Chapters 6-8

             Visual Beauty in Mansfield Park, with a good word for Mrs Norris thrown in

Volume I, Chapters 8-10

             The Visit to Sotherton: The Gay and Sober Couple of Restoration Comedy Changed

Volume I, Chapters 9-10

             Nabokov's Lecture on Mansfield Park

Volume I, Chapter 10

             A Visit to Sotherton: The Emblematic Gate
             'I cannot get out, as the starling said:' Maria's allusion to Sterne

Volume I, Chapters 11-14

             The Pascalian Vision behind Austen's Objections to Play-Acting
             The Autobiographical Perspective on Austen's Objections to Play-acting

Volume I, Chapters 14-16

             Henry Crawford as a Rewrite of LaClos's Valmont and Richardson's Lovelace

Volume I, Chapters 14-18

             Lovers Vows: A Mirror of Mansfield Park (The Characters)
             Lovers Vows: Nabokov, Wollstonecraft, & A Recent Feminist Reading

Volume I, Chapter 15

             The Orphan of the Castle, the Recluse of the Lake, Emily St Aubert, and Fanny
             It's easy for the relatively cool and powerful to be kind: Mary Crawford

Volume I, Chapters 15-19

             The Scene from Lovers Vows: A Mirror of the Whole Novel

Volume I, Chapter 16

             On Fanny's 'Nest of Comforts': a Relevant Poem by Emily Bronte

Volume I, Chapters 16-18

             The Cold in the East Room and the Calm Night Sky

Volume I, Chapter 17


Volume I, Chapter 18

             Couples and Antitheses

Volume II, Chapters 1-3

             Sympathy for Maria

Volume II, Chapter 3

             The Unloved Maria and Lady Bertram's Cunning Awareness of Her Indifference to Maria

Volume II, Chapter 3

             A Commentary on Brian Southam's exegesis in TLS (sent to C18-L 2/25/95)
             'Did you not hear me ask him about the slave trade last night?'
             Slavery in Austen compared to Darwin

Volume II, Chapters 4-6

             Poisoning Her Existence: Mrs Norris & Fanny and Jenkins on Maria Williams & Lady Greville
             A Novel One of Whose Themes is Ordination

Volume II, Chapters 7-9

             Fanny Brings Out the Best in Henry

Volume II, Chapters 10-12

             The Complexity of Love: Fanny Price as Trophy Wife

Volume II, Chapter 13 and III, Chapters 1-3

             Henry Woos Fanny: Our Credulity is Strained, Yet Austen Carries It off

Volume II, Chapter 16

             It's easy for the relatively cool and powerful to be kind: Mary Crawford

Volume III, Chapter 1

             Why Doesn't Fanny Simply Explain Her Motives to Sir Thomas
             Fanny as an Antigone and a Clarissa, but not a St Teresa

Volume III, Chapter 3

             Henry Crawford as Actor

Volume III, Chapter 3

             Henry VIII: Fanny as Shakespearean and Maria as 18th Century Fallen Heroine

Volume III, Chapter 4

             The Education of Sir Thomas Bertram

Volume III, Chapters 5-16

             Epistolarity in Mansfield Park: Mary's & Edmund's letters to Fanny
             Epistolarity in Mansfield Park: Mary's & Edmund's letters to Fanny (II)

Volume III, Chapter 7

             18th Century Siblings and Some Johnsonian Reflections

Volume III, Chapters 7-15

             Portsmouth: Two Voices
             Shame in Austen and Juliet McMaster's 'God Gave Us Our Relations'
             Henry's Visit to Portsmouth

Volume III, Chapter 9

             Fanny Becomes a Renter and Chuser of Books: Rejoicing with Fanny Using Eva Sedgwick

Volume III, Chapters 9-14

             Epistolarity in Mansfield Park: Lady Bertram's Letters to Fanny

Volume III, Chapter 13

             Epistolarity & Point of View into Steam of Consciousness: From Elinor to Emma to Fanny

Volume III, Chapters 15-17

             The Elopement: A Welter of Circumstance

Volume III, Chapter 16

             Fanny Delivers the Last Blow to Edmund's Illusions About Mary Crawford

Volume III, Chapter 17


Freshwater Bay, near Portsmouth [photo taken before 1949]

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Page Last Updated 16 March 2003