Your Sunday Austen Meditation


church_of_austenologyWe were reminded recently that we all can use some inspiration from the pen of Herself. We have been meaning to resurrect the Sunday Austen Meditation feature on this blog, and will endeavor to post weekly. 

Today’s lesson comes from Emma, as we have been thinking a great deal about this novel lately, and also about Janeites enjoying modern technology. While many think that social media is a 21st-century phenomenon, the idea behind it–sharing thoughts with friends–is far from new. In the Editrix’s long-ago girlhood, we wrote in our friends’ autograph albums and school yearbooks, even as Harriet Smith collects charades in her album. From Volume I, Chapter IX (9):

Her views of improving her little friend’s mind, by a great deal of useful reading and conversation, had never yet led to more than a few first chapters, and the intention of going on to-morrow. It was much easier to chat than to study; much pleasanter to let her imagination range and work at Harriet’s fortune, than to be labouring to enlarge her comprehension or exercise it on sober facts; and the only literary pursuit which engaged Harriet at present, the only mental provision she was making for the evening of life, was the collecting and transcribing all the riddles of every sort that she could meet with, into a thin quarto of hot-pressed paper, made up by her friend, and ornamented with ciphers and trophies.

In this age of literature, such collections on a very grand scale are not uncommon. Miss Nash, head-teacher at Mrs. Goddard’s, had written out at least three hundred; and Harriet, who had taken the first hint of it from her, hoped, with Miss Woodhouse’s help, to get a great many more. Emma assisted with her invention, memory and taste; and as Harriet wrote a very pretty hand, it was likely to be an arrangement of the first order, in form as well as quantity.

Mr. Woodhouse was almost as much interested in the business as the girls, and tried very often to recollect something worth their putting in. “So many clever riddles as there used to be when he was young—he wondered he could not remember them! but he hoped he should in time.” And it always ended in “Kitty, a fair but frozen maid.”

His good friend Perry, too, whom he had spoken to on the subject, did not at present recollect any thing of the riddle kind; but he had desired Perry to be upon the watch, and as he went about so much, something, he thought, might come from that quarter.

So as you see, Gentle Readers, even in Jane Austen’s time, there was social media of a sort. Two hundred years ago, the excitement over an album of charades was similar to the excitement over the latest social media app. Once again we see the genius of Jane Austen, who tapped into the universal zeitgeist of humanity that never really changes. Here endeth the lesson.

All the Pretty Emmas


Margaret C. Sullivan:

We swoon over the new Penguin Classics edition of Emma edited by Juliette Wells, with a beautiful cover design by Dadu Shin. We noticed how many pretty editions of Emma were out there when we were writing JAC2C, and decided to put together a gallery of some of our favorites.

Also, we’re giving away a copy of the new book, compliments of Penguin. (Sorry, this is for readers in the U.S. only.) Leave a comment here with a valid email address by midnight on Tuesday, October 6, and we’ll choose a commenter at random.

Originally posted on This Delightful Habit of Journaling:

Emma 200th Anniversary Penguin Classics Edition

“Oh! you would rather talk of her person than her mind, would you? Very well; I shall not attempt to deny Emma’s being pretty.”

“Pretty! say beautiful rather. Can you imagine any thing nearer perfect beauty than Emma altogether— face and figure?”

“I do not know what I could imagine, but I confess that I have seldom seen a face or figure more pleasing to me than hers. But I am a partial old friend.” – Emma, Volume I, Chapter V (5)

I recently received a copy of the new 200th Anniversary Penguin Classics edition of Emma, and thought, “Why didn’t they send this to me two years ago!” Because two years ago, I was in the initial stages of putting together Jane Austen Cover to Cover, and I certainly would have loved to include this beautiful cover design by Dadu Shin.

But this is not just…

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Pride and Prejudice and Poetry


pnp_proposalKelly Ramsdell Fineman, a poet and Janeite, has been working on poems in a format called an “etheree,” which starts out with a first line of one syllable with each succeeding line adding a syllable, and then working back down again. She has written Mr. Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth Bennet as an etheree, and it’s pretty awesome. Check it out!

Jane Austen Quotes Delivered to Your Smartphone


jane_austenThe Jane Austen Centre at Bath has created the Jane Austen Daily Quote App, a free smartphone app. You can set it to deliver a free daily quote from one of Jane Austen’s novels to your smartphone. This is a delightful idea and we are all for it.

The app also includes articles from the Centre’s online magazine and information about the Centre, as well as a link to its gift store.

Deborah Yaffe pointed out that not everyone has a smartphone. (HOW DO YOU PEOPLE SURVIVE?!?) It occurs to us that we can be better about providing Jane Austen quotation-related services to the non-smartphone-owning Janeite public. Things that make you go hmmm…. ;-)

To get the app, go to your app store and search for “The Jane Austen Daily Quote App.” It’s currently available for Android and iOS.

A Special Announcement from Laughing With Lizzie


sophie1Thank you very much for allowing me to visit your blog today, Mags, to make my very special announcement! 

In fact, rather than making my own announcement, I am going to let the wonderful Caroline Jane Knight, Jane Austen’s 5th great niece, tell you all!

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Will Jane Austen’s Real Inspiration Please Stand Up?


Margaret C. Sullivan:

We were half “so sick of Jane Austen’s Real Blah de Blah” and half “Actually what he’s saying is kind of interesting.” Read and make up your own mind!

Originally posted on This Delightful Habit of Journaling:

Castle Ashby, NorthamptonshireCastle Ashby

When I saw this article in the Telegraph linked on Twitter, I rolled my eyes a bit and prepared myself for silliness. We’ve had so much of this sort of thing: the Real Mr. Darcy, the Real Pemberley, etc., and it’s becoming tiresome, because so often it’s a bunch of hooey.

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Rare Jane Austen Book Discovered in Charity Shop


“Originally the hunters thought they had stumbled on a first edition signed copy.”

LOL. Oh, Austen Muggles, never change.