The Janeite Times, No. 2


Today’s edition of the Janeite Times has an air of She’s Everywhere-ness to it. (She really is everywhere, you know.)

The Atlantic has a fascinating excerpt from a longer book by economist Branko Milanovic in which he talks about the differences in wealth of the very wealthy in Jane Austen’s world–that is, Mr. Darcy and yes, the Bennets, Gritty Realism™ aside–and the very poor, and how it was a much larger divide than it is today.

Elizabeth meets a rich suitor, Mr. Darcy, whose annual income is put (by all concerned in the book) at £10,000. Both he and his somewhat less rich friend Mr. Bingley are understandably deemed very desirable bachelors by the socially conscious (and no-nonsense) mother of Elizabeth Bennet. Mr. Darcy’s huge income places him, at the least, in the top one-tenth of 1 percent of income distribution. Note the huge gap existing between the top 1 percent and the top one-tenth of 1 percent, or, to use George W. Bush’s modern phraseology, between “the haves and the have-mores.” Although these early-nineteenth century English haves and have-mores freely intermingle socially (and apparently intermarry), Mr. Darcy’s income is more than three times greater than Elizabeth’s father’s; translated in per capita terms (since Mr. Darcy does not take care of anyone but himself ), the ratio is in excess of twenty to one.

It’s an interesting take on the book and will give some facts and figures about the economics of P&P to interested readers. Thanks to Alert Janeite Lisa for the link.

Bettany Hughes has given her Ten Greatest Women in British History list in the Daily Mail, and of course it includes Jane Austen.

She was spot on in every observation she made about both men and women – observations that still hold true today. While her writing (even though we now know that her grammar and spelling left much to be desired!) was amazingly perceptive, it still stands the test of time, 200 years later. Austen helped revolutionise the novel as a form – and still speaks to us today.

When an economist can get excerpted in The Atlantic writing about the economic basis of her characters as if they were real people*, we would have to concur.

*Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The undisputed queen of English literature.

Hear hear! *thumps walking stick heartily on floor*

A couple of bloggers who are rather less lazy than the Editrix *cough* have compiled Best of 2010 lists for the Austen paraliterature that has really become a genre of its own. Kelly Yanke Deltener, the Examiner’s Austen sequel expert, has a list not only of her reviews but of interviews with the authors. The always-energetic Laurel Ann of Austenprose has provided a list of her top 20 Austen-related books of 2010. If you got some bookstore gift certificates, perhaps you can start making a list to dispose of them.

And last but not least, check out Kelly Fineman’s excellent blog post about First Impressions vs. Pride and Prejudice–the first and final titles of Jane Austen’s best-loved novel.

Just as Northanger Abbey was, in some respects, a parody of a Gothic novel, taking Gothic elements and putting people in the real world, so First Impressions was probably initially a burlesque or parody of Burney’s Cecilia, taking the idea of a wealthy girl who needs a husband before she reaches the age of 21 (who must agree to take her surname in order for her to inherit 10,000 pounds) and flipping parts of it around – it’s not Elizabeth with the 10,000 pounds to her name, it’s Darcy (who gets 10,000/year – at least a million/annum in today’s currency by some predictions); that said, Mr Darcy has some things in common with Mortimer Delvile from Cecilia, inasmuch as both struggle with an inherent conflict between their pride and their affections.

This is just great. Read the whole thing (including the poem about The Loiterer!)

As always, this is an AustenBlog DIY post. Feel free to share your Austen-related links in comments.

2 thoughts on “The Janeite Times, No. 2

  1. Sandra

    The economic analysis is interesting. He does lose a couple of points for saying that Darcy is not responsible for looking after anyone besides himself. Wickham wouldn’t matter much if that were the case.


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