At the time Jane Austen’s novels were published – between 1811 and 1818 – English literature was not part of any academic curriculum. In addition, fiction was under strenuous attack. Certain religious and political groups felt novels had the power to make so-called immoral characters so interesting that young readers would identify with them; these groups also considered novels to be of little practical use. Even Coleridge, certainly no literary reactionary, spoke for many when the asserted that “novel-reading occasions the destruction of the mind’s powers.”
These attitudes towards novels help explain why Austen received little attention from early nineteenth-century literary cities. (In any case a novelist published anonymously, as Austen was, would not be likely to receive much critical attention.) The literary response that was accorded to her, however, was often as incisive as twentieth-century criticism. In his attack in 1816 on novelistic portrayals “outside of ordinary experience,” for example. Scott made an insightful remark about the merits of Austen’s fiction.
Her novels, wrote Scott, “present to the reader an accurate and exact picture of ordinary everyday people and places, reminiscent of seventeenth-century Flemish painting.” Scott did not use the word ‘realism’, but he undoubtedly used a standard of realistic probability in judging novels. The critic Whately did not use the word ‘realism’, either, but he expressed agreement with Scott’s evaluation, and went on to suggest the possibilities for moral instruction in what we have called Austen’s ‘realistic method’ her characters, wrote Whately, are persuasive agents for moral truth since they are ordinary persons “so clearly evoked that we feel an interest in their fate as if it were our own.” Moral instruction, explained Whately, is more likely to be effective when conveyed through recongnizably human and interesting characters than when imparted by a sermonizing narrator. Whitely especially praised Austen’s ability to create character who “mingle goodness and villainy, weakness and virtue, as in life they are always mingled. “Whitely concluded his remarks by comparing Austen’s art of characterization to Dickens’, starting his preference for Austen’s.
Yet, the response of nineteenth-century literary critics to Austen was not always so laudatory, and often anticipated the reservations of twentieth-century literary critics. An example of such a response was Lewes complaint in 1859 that Austen’s range of subject and characters was too narrow. Praising her verisimilitude, Lewes added that, nonetheless her focus was too often only upon the unlofty and the commonplace. (Twentieth-century Marxists, on the other hand, were to complain about what they saw as her exclusive emphasis on a lofty upper middle class.) In any case having being rescued by literary critics from neglect and indeed gradually lionized by them, Austen steadily reached, by the mid-nineteenth century, the enviable pinnacle of being considered controversial.
The author quotes Coleridge in order to
Recent advances in science and technology have made it possible for geneticists to find out abnormalities in the unborn foetus and take remedial action to rectify some defects which would otherwise prove to be fatal to the child. Though genetic engineering is still at its infancy, scientists can now predict with greater accuracy a genetic disorder. It is not yet an exact science since they are not in a position to predict when exactly a genetic disorder will set in. While they have not yet been able to change the genetic order of the gene in germs, they are optimistic and are holding out that in the near future they might be successful in achieving this feat. They have, however, acquired the ability in manipulating tissue cells. However, genetic mis-information can sometimes be damaging for it may adversely affect people psychologically. Genetic information may lead to a tendency to brand some people as inferiors. Genetic information can therefore be abused and its application in deciding the sex of the foetus and its subsequent abortion is now hotly debated on ethical lines. But on this issue geneticists cannot be squarely blamed though this charge has often been leveled at them. It is mainly a societal problem. At present genetic engineering is a costly process of detecting disorders but scientists hope to reduce the costs when technology becomes more advanced. This is why much progress in this area has been possible in scientifically advanced and rich countries like the U.S.A., U.K. and Japan. It remains to be seen if in the future this science will lead to the development of a race of supermen or will be able to obliterate disease from this world.
Which of the following is the same in meaning as the word ‘feat’ as used in the passage?