Today’s lesson is from Mansfield Park, Volume I, Chapter XII, in honor of the holiday tomorrow in the U.S.; if memory serves, the only time Jane Austen mentioned our country in one of her novels.
Listening and wondering were all suspended for a time, for Mr. Bertram was in the room again; and though feeling it would be a great honour to be asked by him, she thought it must happen. He came towards their little circle; but instead of asking her to dance, drew a chair near her, and gave her an account of the present state of a sick horse, and the opinion of the groom, from whom he had just parted. Fanny found that it was not to be, and in the modesty of her nature immediately felt that she had been unreasonable in expecting it. When he had told of his horse, he took a newspaper from the table, and looking over it, said in a languid way, “If you want to dance, Fanny, I will stand up with you.” With more than equal civility the offer was declined; she did not wish to dance. “I am glad of it,” said he, in a much brisker tone, and throwing down the newspaper again, “for I am tired to death. I only wonder how the good people can keep it up so long. They had need be all in love, to find any amusement in such folly; and so they are, I fancy. If you look at them you may see they are so many couple of lovers–all but Yates and Mrs. Grant–and, between ourselves, she, poor woman, must want a lover as much as any one of them. A desperate dull life hers must be with the doctor,” making a sly face as he spoke towards the chair of the latter, who proving, however, to be close at his elbow, made so instantaneous a change of expression and subject necessary, as Fanny, in spite of everything, could hardly help laughing at. “A strange business this in America, Dr. Grant! What is your opinion? I always come to you to know what I am to think of public matters.”
Mr. Bertram was possibly referring to the War of 1812, which would have been going on while Jane Austen was writing Mansfield Park. This is a funny little moment, and Fanny laughing at Tom’s awkward predicament makes her seem a little more human than she is sometimes perceived. Here endeth the lesson.
Something pretty to start off a long weekend here at AustenBlog World Headquarters…a rehearsal of the song “Had I Been In Love” (a/k/a Lizzy’s Big Epiphany) from Austen’s Pride: A New Musical of Pride and Prejudice, coming up at the Nazareth College Arts Center in Rochester, NY, this month. The performers are Heather Botts as Elizabeth Bennet and Lindsie VanWinkle as Jane Austen. Yes, this is the P&P musical we’ve seen several times and been loving for years…the title has been changed to distinguish it from the several other P&P musicals around.
We’ve discussed this a bit on social media, but felt the occasion
presented an opportunity for some snark would make a good blog post.
Alexandra Knatchbull, daughter of Lord Brabourne, great-granddaughter of Lord Mountbatten, and goddaughter of Diana, Princess of Wales, was married last weekend in what was described as “the society wedding of the year.” The wedding was covered by the press probably mostly because Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the British, Spanish, Greek and Jordanian royal families were guests.* The Prince of Wales gave away the bride as Lord Brabourne, one of the Prince’s best friends, was unable to do so due to illness, or at least that’s the official line.
None of the press coverage of the wedding seems to have picked up the most important fact for Janeites–that the bride is descended from Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight. Continue reading
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
An experiment, and perhaps the start of something…
This week’s lesson is from the third volume of Emma, Chapter XIII (49). Continue reading
Sense and Sensibility and Jane Austen’s Accidental Feminists
This is a great article and you should read it. We disagree, of course, with the quoted assertion by Louis Menand that Colonel Brandon is dull in the book. Dude: he comes thisclose to running away with his teenaged love; he finds her in a spunging-house, rescues her and her illegitimate daughter, is with her “in her last moments,” and he adopts and raises the daughter; he fights a duel for pete’s sake. How is that dull? Is it the flannel waistcoat? Marianne Dashwood is supposed to be scornful of the flannel waistcoat because she is 17 and silly. What’s your excuse?
Incidentally, we saw the People’s Light stage production of Sense and Sensibility yesterday and enjoyed it very much! If you are in the Philadelphia area, we encourage you to check it out.