Jane and Prudence (with spoliers)

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Jane and Prudence (with spoliers)

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Sep 29, 2009, 8:25 am

Back later with comments.

Sep 30, 2009, 4:24 am

Thankyou, Digifish, for the invitation!
I love Jane and Prudence, I used to have an idea that I was, in some way, Prudence, but I grew out of it.
It is amusing to compare the 'reuinion of old students' in J & P with Gaudy Night - Sayers is far more serious, but the observations about female friendships and appearances are strangely similar in content, if not in tone. Pym notes them as part of her extraordinary style - neatly describing, without censure but leaving the observation hanging: we can provide our own cattiness. Sayers is more political in her approach, she has something to say and makes it explicit. The genius of Pym is that she makes her point about the relations of men and women by presenting theie thoughts and actions without ever resorting to direct comment.

Oct 10, 2009, 8:24 pm

I loved the characterisation in Jane and Prudence. Jane is hilarious as the bumbling vicar's wife and then we have the rather caddish Fabian Driver and Miss Morrow, who is not always as meek as she first appears.

Oct 13, 2009, 5:42 pm

Goldengrove, Gaudy Night is an excellent comparison for Jane and Prudence especially these early Oxford educated women trying to sort out their personal and professional lives.

Oct 14, 2009, 5:10 am

I hadn't thought about it before, but Gaudy Night vs. Jane and Prudence is rather an interesting comparison, isn't it? I suppose that the big difference is that Harriet needs Lord Peter - both to sort out the mystery and to "complete" her existence by making her into his wife - whilst the women in J&P find they can get on pretty well without men (or with the men relegated to a very peripheral role in their lives). I don't know if you can put that down to a difference in attitudes between the thirties and the fifties (maybe the wartime experience of men being away in the forces?), or if you could argue that Pym's message is simply more subversive than that of DLS?

Oct 14, 2009, 5:55 pm

Hmm, I think it is more complicated than that given that Harriet resists marrying Lord Peter because she does not want to be defined by him. Their courtship is in part about Harriet waiting until they can be on more equal footing.

In Pym, well you have one character already married so that doesn't bear comparison but the focus is on the relationship of the women not their relationship to men so perhaps that is part of the difference the relationship focused on by the author.

Oct 15, 2009, 9:05 am

Yes, in part, but you could also argue that they've merely gone from a situation where Lord Peter has just saved Harriet from the gallows to one where Harriet has totally missed the point in two mysteries that Lord Peter solves effortlessly in the last chapter...

Perhaps one shouldn't read too much into it: DLS is constrained by the genre and has to satisfy the readers who've been tricked into reading a fairly serious novel in the expectation of getting a whodunnit: she would have had a riot on her hands if she'd let Harriet unmask the criminal and left Lord Peter with nothing to do but propose to her. Pym's maybe more free to depart from the conventional romantic plot because her novels don't fit into a clearly defined genre anyway. And I think Goldengrove is right that DLS is more explicitly political. Certainly there's much more in GN than in J&P about the real problems that affect the way people live their lives (money, jobs, health, children, ...). Problems in Pym-world have a way of going away if you don't think about them.