For Immediate Release
January 14, 2009
Contact: Charlie McKinney
Phone: (603) 880-8308, ext. 21
MERRIMACK— Thomas More College Professor of Humanities Christopher Blum authored the introduction to the most recently circulated version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Blum’s introduction to the famed 19th century British work appears in the latest edition published by Ignatius Press. The book is available for sale on the Internet and in bookstores nationwide.
For Blum, who has garnered a national reputation for his authoritative scholarship on the British novelist, writes that the works of Austen are filled with a dramatic and often hilarious portrayal of virtues and vices in action. His introduction to Pride and Prejudice delves into the role of virtue in Austen’s life and how Catholic morality is evident within her novel.
“Although Jane Austen herself never married, she plainly understood that marriage and family were the essential framework of the moral life,” Blum said. “And it is indeed because of its creator’s moral vision, and not merely for its fairytale-like ending, that Pride and Prejudice is a work of such rare loveliness. As with each of Jane Austen’s novels, it is a probing reflection upon love, marriage, family, and the search for stability and goodness….”
While some readers have dismissed Austen’s work as merely amusing, Professor Blum explains that she, in fact, addresses the central question of human life: How shall we live together in community—beginning with its most basic unit, the family? Austen examines human depths that are not sounded in the typical novel of manners or 19th century love story.
“Pride and Prejudice stands apart from Austen’s other novels for its sustained and focused consideration of the moral development of its heroine and hero,” Blum noted.
However, Blum does not see in Austen’s delightful tales allegorical treatises or moralizing tracts.
“They are, after all, works of the imagination, and like any great piece of music, or poetry, or even painting, her novels help us to pursue the good not by teaching us exactly in what it consists, but by revealing to us that the rational and virtuous life is the most attractive and, indeed, the only happy life,” he wrote. “What we need to see is not the presence of precise definitions or the solution to difficult questions, but instead the grand and noble truth that virtue is its own reward and brings in its train, so far as this mortal life affords, all other subordinate goods in their proper measure. A novelist, then, would be trustworthy to the extent that his mind conforms to the first truths of the moral life: that the soul is better than the body, that the will is a rational appetite, that the individual is made for and perfected by society.”
Professor Blum’s essay also examines Austen’s quiet Christian faith, her picture of the hero Mr. Darcy against the standard of virtue which she would have known, and her treatment of feminine character in light of her contemporaries. He contends that Austen is “the last great representative of the classical tradition of the virtues.”
Thomas More College President Dr. Jeffrey Nelson lauded the latest scholarship of his colleague.
“The College is proud that Ignatius looked to Thomas More College for its authoritative commentator on one of the greatest works of British literature,” Nelson said. “I am excited that Professor Blum’s insightful scholarship will undoubtedly influence the literary community.”
If you would like additional information, or would like to schedule an interview with Dr. Christopher Blum or Dr. Jeff Nelson, please contact Charlie McKinney at (603) 880-8308, ext. 21 or (603) 913-5939, or by email at cmckinney@ThomasMoreCollege.edu.