Your Sunday Austen Meditation



Today’s lesson comes from the Book of Northanger Abbey, Volume I, Chapter I, and yes, we know that the last lesson came from that book, too, but it just all works for us right now. It will be a very short lesson this week.

Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children everything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters were inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books — or at least books of information — for, provided that nothing like useful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they were all story and no reflection, she had never any objection to books at all.

We are just returning from a holiday by the sea, though we went to watch a little “base ball” ourself. We left behind snow and wind and found the sunshine, for a few days anyhow. Summer is coming, Gentle Readers. We hope Miss Morland would have joined our enjoyments of the past few days. Here endeth the lesson.

Registration is Open for Jane Austen Day 2018 in Philadelphia



The title says it all–registration is open for the 2018 Jane Austen Day, “The Power of Persuasion,” on April 21, 2018 in Philadelphia, though this time it is actually in the suburbs at the Merion Cricket Club in Haverford, a short drive or train ride away from downtown.

The event has a great lineup of speakers, including Lynn Festa, Susannah Fullerton, Whit Stillman, and Juliette Wells, talking about all things Persuasion.

It is a day-long event and the price includes a light continental breakfast and luncheon. There will also be an Emporium (welcoming Jane Austen Books for the first time at this event) selling not only books but other Austen-related goodies.

It should be a great day, and the available space is filling fast, so get your registration in while you can.

P.S. A thousand internet points that don’t mean anything to the first commenter who can identify the inspiration for the poster design…other than Captain Wentworth’s letter, of course.

Your Sunday Austen Meditation


Today’s lesson is from the book of Northanger Abbey, in which Catherine experiences a windy night and a loss of her light source. Right now we are feeling this passage most sincerely, as AustenBlog World Headquarters had no power on Friday night, and not even a cheerful fire to comfort us.

The dimness of the light her candle emitted made her turn to it with alarm; but there was no danger of its sudden extinction; it had yet some hours to burn; and that she might not have any greater difficulty in distinguishing the writing than what its ancient date might occasion, she hastily snuffed it. Alas! It was snuffed and extinguished in one. A lamp could not have expired with more awful effect. Catherine, for a few moments, was motionless with horror. It was done completely; not a remnant of light in the wick could give hope to the rekindling breath. Darkness impenetrable and immovable filled the room. A violent gust of wind, rising with sudden fury, added fresh horror to the moment. Catherine trembled from head to foot. In the pause which succeeded, a sound like receding footsteps and the closing of a distant door struck on her affrighted ear. Human nature could support no more. A cold sweat stood on her forehead, the manuscript fell from her hand, and groping her way to the bed, she jumped hastily in, and sought some suspension of agony by creeping far underneath the clothes. To close her eyes in sleep that night, she felt must be entirely out of the question. With a curiosity so justly awakened, and feelings in every way so agitated, repose must be absolutely impossible. The storm too abroad so dreadful! — She had not been used to feel alarm from wind, but now every blast seemed fraught with awful intelligence. The manuscript so wonderfully found, so wonderfully accomplishing the morning’s prediction, how was it to be accounted for? — What could it contain? — to whom could it relate? — by what means could it have been so long concealed? — and how singularly strange that it should fall to her lot to discover it! Till she had made herself mistress of its contents, however, she could have neither repose nor comfort; and with the sun’s first rays she was determined to peruse it. But many were the tedious hours which must yet intervene. She shuddered, tossed about in her bed, and envied every quiet sleeper. The storm still raged, and various were the noises, more terrific even than the wind, which struck at intervals on her startled ear. The very curtains of her bed seemed at one moment in motion, and at another the lock of her door was agitated, as if by the attempt of somebody to enter. Hollow murmurs seemed to creep along the gallery, and more than once her blood was chilled by the sound of distant moans. Hour after hour passed away, and the wearied Catherine had heard three proclaimed by all the clocks in the house before the tempest subsided or she unknowingly fell fast asleep.

The power is back on, but we still don’t have internet (posting this from our phone!). There’s a lot of crazy weather going on everywhere right now, so we wish everyone a warm, safe, well-lit place to do a little reading. Here endeth the lesson.

Also, while we’re on the subject of Northanger Abbey, we wrote a little bit (actually quite a lot) about Mr. Tilney and his treatment of our heroine for Sarah Emsley’s blog series about NA and Persuasion.

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!


Cake by Bredenbeck’s bakery in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA. This was the cake for the JASNA Eastern Pennsylvania Jane Austen birthday party.

The year rolls round to its end once again, and once again we are celebrating the birthday of Jane Austen. It is our tradition to write about what we would give Jane Austen for her birthday, but we don’t think we could top two pretty amazing things given to her by the world.  Continue reading

Pride and Prejudice to Be Adapted by Poldark Producers for ITV


It’s been twelve years. We suppose it’s time for something new for everyone to fight over. Also, none of those pesky royalties to pay. PROFIT!

The producer, which also makes ITV smash hit Victoria starring Jenna Coleman, has commissioned acclaimed playwright Nina Raine – author of 2017 hit National Theatre play Consent – to adapt the classic novel, in a version that will aim to tease out the story’s “darker tones” according to Mammoth Screen. This will be Raine’s first TV adaptation.

“Pride and Prejudice is actually a very adult book, much less bonnet-y than people assume,” Raine said of the project. “I hope I do justice to Austen’s dark intelligence – sparkling, yes, but sparkling like granite.”

Meanwhile, at the fabulous high-tech AustenBlog World Headquarters…

Dorothy goes into the Editrix’s writing lair. She looks up reverently at the Cluebat of Janeite Righteousness on its shelf. She takes down the Cluebat carefully and blows off the dust.

She always knew its time would come again.

In the Robing Room, the Editrix puts on her war paint.

(Something we didn’t have in 2005…GIFs!)

“I hope I do not break your heart”


jane_in_my_heartOn this melancholy day, we remember Jane Austen and present the heartrending letter from her sister, Cassandra Austen, to their niece, Fanny Knight, about Jane’s death.

Winchester: Sunday.

My dearest Fanny,​

Doubly dear to me now for her dear sake whom we have lost. She did love you most sincerely, and never shall I forget the proofs of love you gave her during her illness in writing those kind, amusing letters at a time when I know your feelings would have dictated so different a style. Take the only reward I can give you in the assurance that your benevolent purpose was answered; you did contribute to her enjoyment.

Even your last letter afforded pleasure. I merely cut the seal and gave it to her; she opened it and read it herself, afterwards she gave it me to read, and then talked to me a little and not uncheerfully of its contents, but there was then a languor about her which prevented her taking the same interest in anything she had been used to do.

Since Tuesday evening, when her complaint returned, there was a visible change, she slept more and much more comfortably; indeed, during the last eight-and-forty hours she was more asleep than awake. Her looks altered and she fell away, but I perceived no material diminution of strength, and, though I was then hopeless of a recovery, I had no suspicion how rapidly my loss was approaching.

I have lost a treasure, such a sister, such a friend as never can have been surpassed. She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow; I had not a thought concealed from her, and it is as if I had lost a part of myself. I loved her only too well—not better than she deserved, but I am conscious that my affection for her made me sometimes unjust to and negligent of others; and I can acknowledge, more than as a general principle, the justice of the Hand which has struck this blow.

You know me too well to be at all afraid that I should suffer materially from my feelings; I am perfectly conscious of the extent of my irreparable loss, but I am not at all overpowered and very little indisposed, nothing but what a short time, with rest and change of air, will remove. I thank God that I was enabled to attend her to the last, and amongst my many causes of self-reproach I have not to add any wilful neglect of her comfort.

She felt herself to be dying about half-an-hour before she became tranquil and apparently unconscious. During that half-hour was her struggle, poor soul! She said she could not tell us what she suffered, though she complained of little fixed pain. When I asked her if there was anything she wanted, her answer was she wanted nothing but death, and some of her words were: ‘O God grant me patience, pray for me, oh, pray for me!’ Her voice was affected, but as long as she spoke she was intelligible.

I hope I do not break your heart, my dearest Fanny, by these particulars; I mean to afford you gratification whilst I am relieving my own feelings. I could not write so to anybody else; indeed you are the only person I have written to at all, excepting your grandmamma—it was to her, not your Uncle Charles, I wrote on Friday.

Immediately after dinner on Thursday I went into the town to do an errand which your dear aunt was anxious about. I returned about a quarter before six and found her recovering from faintness and oppression; she got so well as to be able to give me a minute account of her seizure, and when the clock struck six she was talking quietly to me.

I cannot say how soon afterwards she was seized again with the same faintness, which was followed by the sufferings she could not describe; but Mr. Lyford had been sent for, had applied something to give her ease, and she was in a state of quiet insensibility by seven o’clock at the latest. From that time till half-past four, when she ceased to breathe, she scarcely moved a limb, so that we have every reason to think, with gratitude to the Almighty, that her sufferings were over. A slight motion of the head with every breath remained till almost the last. I sat close to her with a pillow in my lap to assist in supporting her head, which was almost off the bed, for six hours; fatigue made me then resign my place to Mrs. J. A. for two hours and a-half, when I took it again, and in about an hour more she breathed her last.

I was able to close her eyes myself, and it was a great gratification to me to render her those last services. There was nothing convulsed which gave the idea of pain in her look; on the contrary, but for the continual motion of the head she gave one the idea of a beautiful statue, and even now, in her coffin, there is such a sweet, serene air over her countenance as is quite pleasant to contemplate.

This day, my dearest Fanny, you have had the melancholy intelligence, and I know you suffer severely, but I likewise know that you will apply to the fountain-head for consolation, and that our merciful God is never deaf to such prayers as you will offer.

The last sad ceremony is to take place on Thursday morning ; her dear remains are to be deposited in the cathedral. It is a satisfaction to me to think that they are to lie in a building she admired so- much; her precious soul, I presume to hope, reposes in a far superior mansion. May mine one day be re-united to it!

Your dear papa, your Uncle Henry, and Frank and Edwd. Austen, instead of his father, will attend. I hope they will none of them suffer lastingly from their pious exertions. The ceremony must be over before ten o’clock, as the cathedral service begins at that hour, so that we shall be at home early in the day, for there will be nothing to keep us here afterwards.

Your Uncle James came to us yesterday, and is gone home to-day. Uncle H. goes to Chawton tomorrow morning ; he has given every necessary direction here, and I think his company there will do good. He returns to us again on Tuesday evening.

I did not think to have written a long letter when I began, but I have found the employment draw me on, and I hope I shall have been giving you more pleasure than pain. Remember me kindly to Mrs. J. Bridges (I am so glad she is with you now), and give my best love to Lizzie and all the others.

I am, my dearest Fanny,
Most affectionately yours,
Cass. Eliz. Austen.

I have said nothing about those at Chawton, because I am sure you hear from your papa.

REVIEW: The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn


ja-project-coverThis year we commemorate Jane Austen’s death. We certainly do not celebrate it. We feel a sense of unfairness about it, not only for our selfish sake–for being cheated out of, based on the lifespan of her parents and most of her siblings, thirty or forty years’ worth of Jane Austen novels–but naturally for Jane’s own sake. She died just before she would have reached real success–the success enjoyed by her contemporaries such as Burney, Radcliffe, and Edgeworth, all of whom she has utterly eclipsed in the intervening centuries. It is just horribly unfair. Jane gave the world such joy and never really had the opportunity to enjoy real fruits from her labor (by which we mean money. From what we can tell, Austen was never big on the whole adulation thing).

We also have great affection for time-travel stories, but within certain parameters. The method of time travel must make some kind of logical sense, and those who travel must acknowledge the butterfly effect: that even a small action in the past can change the future. Our favorite time travel novel is Time and Again by Jack Finney, which fulfills both requirements.

Thus we were naturally excited to hear about The Jane Austen Project, which not only used our beloved time-travel trope, but also included Jane Austen. Because what Janeite wouldn’t want to meet Jane Austen? That being said, this delightful premise could go horribly wrong, too; though in the able hands of Kathleen A. Flynn, we have nothing to fear. The Jane Austen Project fulfills the Editrix’s requirements: the method of time travel is not minutely described, but has rules and follows them, and isn’t completely silly; and the possibility of changing history is an important consideration to the plot. 

Continue reading