He does not read?

Category: Education | Type: Discussion | Title: Emma (in Context) | Author: Jane Austen | Vol: Volume I | Ch: Chapter IV

A purposely ambiguous question, allowing for illiteracy at one extreme and on the other a taste for "good" literature. 

Harriet's response that Martin reads agricultural reports to himself but would read aloud passages from Elegant Abstracts (next annotation) says something about Martin's broad tastes and diligence as a farmer. In addition to music, reading aloud was a central part of a social evening. Austen mentions in a letter of 1808 Scott's Marmion being read aloud in the evenings, "beginning about 10, & broken by supper" (June 20).

Austen's prose, much of which is dialogue so rich in intonation as to be dramatic in structure, gains greatly by being read aloud. She was raised in a family whose siblings wrote and performed their own plays as well as versions of other people's work. It appears that throughout much of the century it was not uncommon for people reading to themselves to do so aloud.

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