Today’s lesson is from the book of Northanger Abbey, Vol. I, Chapter I.
Her mother was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, what is more remarkable, with a good constitution. She had three sons before Catherine was born; and instead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as any body might expect, she still lived on — lived to have six children more — to see them growing up around her, and to enjoy excellent health herself. A family of ten children will be always called a fine family, where there are heads and arms and legs enough for the number…
It has been observed that Jane Austen’s mother characters are often absent or ineffectual (or in the case of Mrs. Norris, who is not a mother but certainly a maternal figure, downright horrible). We don’t think Mrs. Morland falls into the “ineffectual” category, though some have placed her there. She is probably not the sympathetic maternal confidante that many heroines enjoy, or even that modern audiences expect or desire, but as Austen herself wrote, she is “a women of useful plain sense” and rarely does wrong in guiding her daughter. She is not a “smother” either, overwhelming her children with sometimes misplaced affection, but is busy doing her best to launch ten children into the world. We’ll take her. Here endeth the lesson.
Wishing a happy Mother’s Day to all those celebrating today (and an extra virtual hug to all those who are especially missing someone today).
For those unfamiliar with the Rice portrait, it is a painting that for many years was considered a portrait of Jane Austen as a tween, painted by Johan Zoffany. Eventually some nasty critical suspicious people began making inquiries as to the provenance of the portrait. Upon examination, it was found to not have been painted by Zoffany but by Ozias Humphry. It was further suggested that the portrait, judging by the subject’s clothing, was painted when Jane Austen was about 30 years old–much older than the sweet tween in the portrait.
Once again the calendar approaches its end, and with the last month comes Jane Austen’s birthday. The birth of this girl-baby brought some light into her family’s life in the darkest part of the year, and this woman and her work continue to bring light into the lives of her fans around the world, 243 years later. (She doesn’t look a day over 41, though.)
Lift your beverage of choice (we’re currently enjoying some vanilla chai ourselves) and join us in a toast to the baby Jenny, her family’s ray of December light; to the girl, Jane, who danced at balls and flirted with young men and gossiped with her sister and girlfriends and read books and wrote hilarious stories; and the woman, Jane Austen, author of books that have stood the test of two centuries and are still being copied and reinterpreted and celebrated today. Yes, let us celebrate Jane Austen, and her beloved books and characters, and the community that has grown around them, that has existed around them from even before their publication, when friends and family begged to read yet again the handwritten manuscript of First Impressions. Janeites, let us celebrate Jane Austen.
Let us know how you are celebrating Jane Austen today and every day!
This is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, Clueless is fan fiction, right? As are Bride and Prejudice and The Jane Austen Book Club, both of which we love. (Seriously, how h*cking adorable is Hugh Dancy in TJABC? Really h*cking adorable, that’s how much.)
The Editrix is fond of saying that everything is known and has been written about Jane Austen, which explains why there so often is Austen-related nonsense in the media. When “they” have run out of facts, it stands to reason that “they” resort to making stuff up.
However, today we stand corrected, as in the past two days two fairly interesting and quite likely new facts about Jane Austen (or, at least, somewhat related to her) have been discovered and published in the media. Continue reading
We’ve been giving some more thought to the Sanditon series announced as in production by ITV/Masterpiece. We know some people are really excited about this, because they love Jane Austen and movies and Jane Austen movies. Our Gentle Readers may be surprised to learn that we really don’t enjoy being Ol’ Negative Mags*, and that we certainly don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun; but we really, really love the little bit of Sanditon that Jane Austen left us, and just want any screen presentation to be worthy of it. Pretty people in period costumes and a story that is kind of Austenish are not enough.
If you’ll be in the Philadelphia area this weekend, we would love to see you at this JASNA – Eastern Pennsylvania Region program. It’s free and open to the public, and you need not be a member of JASNA to attend. Come on out!
If you are or will be in the Philadelphia area this weekend, I’ll be speaking at the Free Library of Springfield Township in Wyndmoor, PA (Montgomery County) on Saturday, June 23. Doors open at 1:00 p.m. The talk is titled “From Handmade to Digital: Jane Austen’s Publication History” and, as you might have guessed, is about the history of the publication of Jane Austen’s novels from her lifetime to the present.
During Jane Austen’s lifetime, the publication of her books was a completely manual operation: the manuscript was handwritten, the type was set by hand, inked by hand, and printed on handmade paper, and then bound by hand. Two centuries later, we can carry Jane Austen’s novels everywhere we go on our smartphones. Margaret C. Sullivan will explain the evolution of publication between the 19th and 21st centuries, illustrated with examples of editions of Austen’s novels and images of the…
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.