Friday, August 07, 2009

Adam Smith and Jane Austen: On Love and Resentment?

Adam Smith
Resentful but not Judgmental?

I've finished the first draft of my article, which I've titled "Darcy’s Ardent Love and Resentful Temper in Pride and Prejudice," so here's my introduction:
In 1759, Adam Smith wrote in Part 3 of his Theory of Moral Sentiments that "Love does not judge of resentment, nor resentment of love. Those two passions may be opposite to one another, but cannot, with any propriety, be said to approve or disapprove of one another" (192). Kenneth Moler has argued that Smith's work on the sentiments exerted an influence on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, written some 40 years later (567-9). Similarly, Peter Knox-Shaw examines Elizabeth Bennet's query, "Is not general incivility [toward others than the beloved] the very essence of love?" and finds in it an echo of Smith's observation in Moral Sentiments (Pt. 1) that "though a lover may be good company to his mistress, he is so to nobody else" (87-88, n. 44). On the incivility of lovers, Smith and Austen would seem to agree, but influence by one writer on another can be found as readily in disagreement as agreement. Despite her apparent agreement with Smith on some points, would Austen accept Smith's views on love and resentment, namely, that neither can judge the other?
I'll leave you wondering about that (though you surely know the answer!). By the way, my three sources are:
Knox-Shaw, Peter. Jane Austen and the Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Moler, Kenneth L. "The Bennet Girls and Adam Smith on Vanity and Pride." Philological Quarterly 46 (1967), 567-9.

Smith, Adam, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Edited by Knud Haakonssen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Those are for any readers who themselves might wish to follow up on this issue. Sorry that this is short and possibly tantilizing -- though more likely boring -- but I slept late and need to get on with proofing and touching up this first draft.

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At 5:18 PM, Blogger Nicholas Gruen said...

Very intriguing! I published an essay with the title "Adam Smith is to Markets as Jane Austen is to Marriage"

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Sperwer said...

Gypsy tease!

At 6:10 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Mr. Gruen, I think that you're just 'advertising' . . . but I'll allow the link because you seem actually to have written an essay on this issue.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:12 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sperwer, I'll send you the complete essay, which I've retouched and reworked today.

But, really, everybody knows the denoument already . . . right?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:13 PM, Blogger Nicholas Gruen said...

Thanks Horace.

I was interested in the subject. But now regret that I posted so that you could call it 'advertising'. What interest would I have in that? If you think it's advertising, please remove it.

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Mr. Gruen, I now believe you. The problem was that I get a lot of comments providing links with precisely the same form as what you've posted, and they are inevitably (or almost so) advertising.

Yours was different, and I should have believed you, but I was stuck in a certain response.

I apologize.

Jeffery Hodges

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