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.
This 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.
By Jeff Kubina (Maryland Renaissance Festival) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
A couple of weeks ago we were having lunch, and had brought the book we were reading, Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. A co-worker joined us, and asked what we were reading.
Editrix: It’s a modern-set retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Co-worker: Pride and Prejudice…which one is that?
Editrix, at a bit of a loss, not knowing how well she knew the novel: Er, well, it’s about Elizabeth, and Mr. Darcy, and, er, he’s proud, and she’s prejudiced…
Co-worker: Keira Knightley or Gwyneth Paltrow?
Editrix: Oh. Keira.
It’s good to get out of the Janeite bubble sometimes. Things become so simple.
P.S. Hey Internet! What’s up?
In honor of Jane Austen’s birthday, we are giving away five copies of the recently published essay collection The Joy of Jane. From the book’s website:
Although there were only six completed novels, Jane Austen left an enormous legacy when she died on July 18, 1817, at the age of only 41. The Joy of Jane brings together some of today’s leading writers and authorities on Jane Austen to offer their thoughts on her endearing appeal. They include:
MAGGIE LANE / DEIRDRE LE FAYE / SUSANNAH FULLERTON / RUTH WILLIAMSON / CARRIE BEBRIS / EMILY BRAND / PENELOPE FRIDAY / AMY PATTERSON / NIGEL STARCK / MARGARET SULLIVAN / KIM WILSON
Why yes, the Editrix has her share in the conversation, and we are honored to be included in this outstanding group of writers. Our essay is about Jane Austen as a professional author, and a little bit about what she might have thought about her current celebrity (and all the stuff that goes with it, she typed as she sipped tea from her brand-new “Janeite” mug). If you would like to purchase the book–it would make a tremendous holiday gift for any Janeite in our humble opinion–there are links at the bottom of the website linked above.
To enter the contest, post a comment below and be sure to leave a working email address in the email field. (If you are signed in to WordPress.com, that is sufficient.) U.S. and international readers are invited to enter this giveaway. Thanks to Landsdown Media for providing us with copies of the book.
ETA: to clarify how the giveaway will work, we’ll pick five random commenters below using the Random Integer Generator to match up with the comment number. Only one comment per person (the first one) will be counted as an entry. You can enter until 9 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time on Saturday, December 17. Check the email address you left in the comment on Sunday morning to see if you are a winner–you will have to send me your address to receive the book. The email will be from the AustenBlog email address.
Dutch Janeite, journalist, and photographer Karin Quint has put up a Kickstarter to have her travel guide, Jane Austen’s England, translated to English. If you pledge at least €20, you will receive a copy of the book (with an additional charge for shipping).
We know many Janeites are planning a pilgrimage to the UK to commemorate the bicentennial of Jane Austen’s death in 2017, so this book will come in handy.
They are very, very close to reaching their funding goal, and there’s a couple of days left to get in on it. We’ve backed this project–won’t you?
(And being from Philadelphia, we are on board with the Rocky references!)
UPDATE: The goal has been reached! But you can still get in on it, and get a book when it’s done.
This interview is part of the Love & Friendship Janeite Blog Tour celebrating the release of the novelization of the film Love & Friendship, itself an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan. We conducted it in the spirit of the novel (check out the link to Austenprose above for more information about it) and Mr. Stillman was kind enough to play along.
We have read Mr. (or should it be Signor?) Martin-Colonna’s little effort in refuting what he considers libelous untruths about Lady Susan Vernon. Firstly, we feel that we must register a protest in defense of the Divine Goddess whom Mr. Martin-Colonna has been pleased to refer to as the Spinster Authoress, being a member of that race ourself. We Spinster Authoresses must not desert one another; we are an injured body.
Mr. Martin-Colonna being a man, he very possibly does not understand his privilege: Men have had every advantage of women in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. Thus, women have had a disadvantage from the beginning, and we think deserve some protection from such boldly offensive behavior as Mr. Martin-Colonna’s towards Miss Jane Austen.
Also it seems to us that the “Spinster Authoress” upon whom Mr. Martin-Colonna has heaped such scorn would have pointed out that he (that is, Mr. Martin-Colonna), like many men, at least when it comes to Lady Susan, tends to use a different organ for thinking than that which the Creator provided for the purpose. But perhaps we are speaking out of turn.
And now to the questions for Mr. Whit Stillman, whom we presume to be the editor of Mr. Martin-Colonna’s energetic defense of his aunt, Lady Susan.
An Initial Reply:
First, in the way of a preface, I have greatly enjoyed following my interlocutor on twitter and blog. [*blush* –Ed.] Those working on the film found especially helpful the wealth of research and insight on the websites devoted to Jane Austen and to the Georgian and Regency eras. Continue reading