Please enjoy the slideshow photo gallery below from our recent December event and birthday celebration for Jane Austen. We had a full house for the presentation and enjoyed wonderful table decorations and scrumptious potluck lunch!
If you would like to contribute more photos -- or captions! -- please contact Jennifer Snoek-Brown, the region's web manager, directly.
Elaine and Stephanie are working on the discussion for January’s meeting discussion theme, which is "The First Janeites, Why & How They Read. There is so much interesting material on Janeites and Jane Austen’s books in wartime, they would like you to get a head start in preparation for the meeting!
If you can find the time before the meeting on January 11th, they would like you to read this short story by Rudyard Kipling called "The Janeites,” published in several magazines in 1924. One of those magazines was The Story-Teller, and the cover featuring "The Janeites" story is pictured at right. The tagline reads, "The first story Rudyard Kipling has written for five years, 'The Janeites', complete within."
The story is about a “secret society” of Janeites in World War I. The story is short and will not take a lot of time to read. Enjoy!
The full text of the short story "The Janeites" is online here: http://www.telelib.com/authors/K/KiplingRudyard/prose/DebtsandCredits/janeites.html
Here are some additional notes on The Janeites (very helpful!): http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/soldiers_fra.htm
Last Sunday, Arnie Perlstein, J.D., JASNA AGM speaker and past Miami regional coordinator, presented a spirited talk on “The Five Other Shakespeare Plays Hiding (In Plain Sight) in Mansfield Park.” He has newly moved to Portland and joined our local region, and he received a warm welcome from the JASNA Oregon & SW Washington members who attended the December event to celebrate Jane Austen's birthday.
Arnie also writes regularly about Jane Austen's "Shadow Stories" on his blog, Sharp Elves Society, at
http://sharpelvessociety.blogspot.com/, and his Twitter page at https://twitter.com/JaneAustenCode (@JaneAustenCode). His personal email address is also provided on his blog profile.
Arnie would love to hear from any members who have follow-up questions, comments, corrections, etc. If there is enough interest (meaning, say, 4-5 people) who are interested in gathering informally at a Starbucks or the like on a periodic basis (monthly or every other month) to toss around Jane Austen's shadow stories with him, he would be very happy to take the lead on that, as long as it never conflicts with any of the chapters scheduled book group meetings or special events, which must come first. Please get in touch with Arnie directly if you are interested.
The 2015 JASNA-sponsored tour to England will take place July 10-19, 2015. The itinerary of the "Jane Austen: Town and Country" tour will include must-see sites in Steventon, Bath, Chawton, and Winchester, seaside resorts, and the east Kent estates of Godmersham and Goodnestone.
All JASNA members in good standing will receive itinerary details and pricing in early January. Mark the dates on your calendar and join fellow JASNA members for a memorable experience!
You are cordially invited to attend our December Tea, in honor of Jane Austen’s birthday. The program this year will be “The Five Other Shakespeare Plays Hiding (In Plain Sight) in Mansfield Park,” presented by Arnie Perlstein, J.D., JASNA AGM speaker and past Miami regional coordinator.
The event will take place on December 7, 2014, at 1:00 p.m., at Holy Names Heritage Center in Lake Oswego.
Make note that this is a potluck event with a small fee to cover the venue and speaker honorarium. We have also assigned potluck dishes according to your last name, to help ensure a balanced meal. Please RSVP and register as soon as possible because space is limited!
Below are two files, one an invitation with registration info about the December Tea event, and the other is info about our new member and speaker, Arnie Perlstein.
Have you seen the personal essay, "From Lizzy Bennet to Fanny Price: My Jane Austen Journey" by Mackenzie Broderick, published recently on The Huffington Post? If the name sounds familiar, that's because Mackenzie won the JASNA National essay contest last year! Also, our region contributed $100 to her expenses to travel to last year's AGM to accept the award.
Her personal essay is a wonderful read, and there's even a photo of her "finest hour" at the JASNA AGM ball last year in Minneapolis.
More photos! Please enjoy the slideshow photo gallery below from the JASNA AGM in Montreal. Over a dozen members from the ORSWWA region were able to attend the JASNA AGM in Montreal, and they had a great time!
You can read more about the AGM in Montreal here at http://www.jasna.org/agms/montreal/index.html.
If you would like to contribute more photos, please contact Jennifer Snoek-Brown, the region's web manager, directly.
The 200th anniversary audiobook edition of Pride and Prejudice, narrated by Alison Larkin, has become an international bestseller and is also nominated for an Audie award.
Visit this link at http://alisonlarkin.com/pride-and-prejudice/ for an audio sample, reviews, and more.
You can also sign up for news and updates about the upcoming audiobook version of Emma, also narrated by Alison Larkin.
Our own Pauline Beard has reviewed Longbourn by Jo Baker, which was the topic of discussion at our reading group meeting in January 2014. The following review was also recently published in the latest edition of JASNA News, the national society's newsletter.
Longbourn. A Novel
By Jo Baker.
Alfred A Knopf, 2013. 332 pages.
Jo Baker’s Longbourn. A Novel retelling Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ perspective is more than an Austen spinoff. The Longbourn maidservant Sarah’s consciousness shifts how most Austen lovers have enjoyed Pride and Prejudice. The characters loved, loathed and sometimes scorned take on different perspectives. Sarah scrubbing Elizabeth’s boots “all stuck and clabbered with mud. Elizabeth’s were always the worst” (183), gives a new insight. Like Darcy, readers admire how Elizabeth walks though muddy fields, but never think (nor do the Bennets) who cleans the petticoats and boots. Mr. Collins, still unctuous, sees and is kind to the servants. To other characters in the novel, Sarah feels invisible, “a ghost –girl who can make things move, but cannot herself be seen” (198). Mrs. Hill’s perspective shows the young Mrs. Bennet whose five births (and one miscarriage in the fascinating back story) make her vulnerable.
Empathy is the main difference between Baker’s novel and Austen’s. Mrs. Hill worries what will happen to the two serving maids when Elizabeth and Jane marry and leave Longbourn. The servants’ narrative is now more important than the ruling family. The latter provides merely a background (a meta-fiction, like John Gardner’s Grendel), with Mr. Bennet drinking Madeira in his study while his daughters whirl noisily about, leaving their petticoats and chamber pots to be taken care of. As if to answer the Austen’s critics for not referencing the Napoleonic Wars, Baker focuses more on the militia. Wickham is a swaggering soldier; Denny and Carter are just as foolish, and surprisingly the very minor character Chamberlayne plays not only a significant part but pushes the theme of empathy.
Chamberlayne’s role demonstrates one of Jo Baker’s strategies, which according to Baker’s agent, Clare Alexander, is “analogous to that of the plays Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Hamlet—the servants are a jumping-off point for the tale, and then become characters in their own right “. Austen mentions the Bennet footman once: “Mrs. Bennet was prevented from replying by the entrance of the footman with a note for Miss Bennet” (30 emphasis mine). The heading of Baker’s novel --each chapter bears a quotation from Austen’s novel, except the war chapters-- when James’ role begins—states “… the entrance of the footman” (Baker 21). Hence the creative leap of James (the footman) observing Chamberlayne tricked out in a lady’s gown”(199-200). Lydia then asks James: “Did you see? …Did you see Chamberlayne?”(200). Austen gives Lydia’s breathless recounting of all the fun during their sisters’ absence: “We dressed up Chamberlayne in woman’s clothes…Lord! How I laughed! “ (Vol. 11.Chapter Sixteen 221). Baker’s Chamberlayne demonstrates the Bennet girls’ foolishness and the irresponsibility of the militia whom James (a seasoned soldier) sees merely playing at war.
The empathy theme features once more with Chamberlayn. Ending Chapter X11 Vol 1. Austen includes a minute detail: “several of the officers had dined lately with their uncle, a private had been flogged” (emphasis mine). No one reacts to the news, but in Longbourn, Sarah witnesses the private’s flogging, and one of the soldiers watching the 20 lashes and looking queasy is Chamberlayne (78) who does nothing. Sarah however, horrified, says, “she should go back, put herself between [the private] and the pain; they would have to stop” (79). Later, fifty lashes figure into the narrative, recalling Chamberlayne and the clever overlapping of James’ life with the Bennets.
Reading reflexively, Baker’s readers forge connections. Chamberlayne, or images like James’ seashells (64,149, 253), or words like “practical” (292, 299, 301) combine James’ experiences in the Peninsular War with his life at Longbourn. Reflexive reading and metafiction make Baker’s book remarkable. The book that Elizabeth loans Sarah pre-Pemberley days, Richardson’s Pamela is significant. Fielding’s novel Tom Jones has certain echoes in one of the back-stories, and the name Bennet is thought to come from Tom Lefroy’s favorite novel, Tom Jones. Jane Eyre also comes to mind, first when Sarah looks longingly out side Pemberley to the expanse of sky (313) reminiscent of Jane Eyre ‘s looking beyond Thornfield’s confines, and then trudging through the moors. Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ pursuit of exhausting jobs is another echo. Elizabeth Darcy has no concept of what it must be like to lead these girls’ lives. When Sarah tells her mistress she is leaving, Elizabeth’s questions are telling: ”Where will you go Sarah? What can a woman do, all on her own… and unsupported…?” Sarah replies ”Work…. I can always work” (312).
The hard labor and empathy theme develop from Baker’s own background, whose family a few generations back was in service. She would never have attended the ball but be “stuck at home with the sewing”. Educated at Oxford and Queen’s Belfast, Baker captures both upstairs and downstairs. The fun of words like “gallinies” and “lubber fiend” is unmatched in any Austen spin-off, and Longbourn has been translated into eight languages, with six figure film rights. Hearing this, Baker,“went off and planted a hedge just to keep herself grounded”. To misquote Mr.Knightley “Nicely done Jo, Nicely done”.
Pauline Beard, Professor Emerita of English at Pacific University Oregon, is currently working on a book of her experiences teaching Jane Austen.