Time and Place of November meeting
The November Reading Group meets on November 10 at 1 p.m. at the home of Bill Boyd and Marna Tisdel.
Discussion Topics for 2014
In November we choose the topics for our Reading Group discussions for the following year. Bring your ideas for the 2014 discussions.
In our November reading group we will discuss A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz. Multiple copies of this book are available in local libraries and it is out in a paperback edition. If you subscribe to audible.com, it is available as an audio book as well.
Since our discussion will be shortened by the time to pick 2014 discussion topics, we will limit our discussion to chapters 1 and 6 of the book. These cover Emma and Sense and Sensibility.
Debbie Guyol and Bill Boyd will be leading the discussion. We intend to discuss the following questions with reference to each chapter:
Our next reading group gathering will take place on Sunday, September 8 (note the change of date) at 1pm at the home of Kim Higgins (note change of venue). The subject of this discussion is this year's AGM theme, Pride and Prejudice.
Our discussion will focus on "first impressions" in the novel. How did they affect the relationships between characters? Deborah Eley & Margaret Christmann will lead the discussion, and ask that you please comment on the topic, which was posted earlier this month on our site. The direct link to comment is here at http://www.jasna-orswwa.org/1/post/2013/08/pp-first-impressions-discussion-comments-encouraged.html (this will take you directly to the article).
Also, this blog post has been extensively updated with more info from discussion co-leader Margaret Christmann, so there's an additional reason to stop by! :)
This discussion post is to help celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, as well as prep for our upcoming reading group event set for September 8th, with discussion leaders Deborah Eley & Margaret Christmann. More information about the September 8th meeting will be sent soon to members regarding time and place. This is just to get members thinking about it!
Pride and Prejudice is about impressions: first impressions, mistaken impressions, false impressions, impressing and being impressed. Dig into well-written themes and we recognize and honor universal truths. The environmental details and historical context of Austen's time have changed but the novel's themes are still with us. Austen captures the truths of a flawed humanity.
For our discussion, we will be looking at how impressions lead to pride and prejudice of various characters. Think about scenes in the book that demonstrate how impressions affect the pride and prejudice of various characters.
Please add comments below to get our discussion started!
UPDATE (8/25/13): Below is an update from discussion co-leader Margaret Christmann, a longer exploration on Elizabeth as a new heroine. Enjoy!
Elizabeth, a new heroine
The first novels, published in early 18th century England, were about manly adventures such as Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels. When a book centered around a heroine, she was powerless and waited for things to happen to her. 18th century heroines tried terribly hard to be good and please everyone. Circumstances were against them but this was largely through no fault of their own. These heroines were more interesting for what happened to them than for who they were. Novels depicted young women of the time who led sheltered lives amongst family members and had little freedom. These women followed the conduct books of the day which taught young ladies to be reserved, modest, silent, meek, and to have no physical energy. They responded but didn't provoke, they obeyed society's rules but did not flaunt them, and were models of decorum and deportment. They were deferential to people of rank.
Into this society steps a brand new heroine, someone new and memorable in the world of fiction. Elizabeth Bennet is 20 years old, can expect no fortune, and has little formal education. Her figure is light and pleasing, she is of average height, has tolerable teeth and beautiful dark eyes. She is moderately accomplished and can play and sing pleasantly, and is reasonably well read. Elizabeth is admirable but not faultless, fun but not unrestrained, accomplished but not a paragon, courageous but not heroic. Her mind is quick and she is witty and clever. Physical exercise is important to her. She performs no memorable or heroic action. She dares to speak her mind. Elizabeth's outrageous unconventionality constantly verges on impertinence and impropriety. She is always interesting to listen to and is ready to laugh at foolishness. She is revolutionary in her ideas of women and of class. She believes that a man's character is worth more than his standing in society. She believes women have every right to be happy as men and that women should marry for love, not only for economic security. Her intelligence, wit, honesty, and virtue enable her to rise above the superficial concerns and bad behavior pervading her spiteful and status driven society. Her temper is to be happy, and it is her readiness for happiness, enjoyment, and pleasure that make her and her novel so distinctive. Elizabeth is a believable and convincing character. Some contemporary readers found her too novel; she was highly unconventional and they were astonished.
Elizabeth is a mixture of her sense of fun, her loving and loyal personality, her spirit, her independence and self-sufficiency, and her love of playing with words. We admire Elizabeth because she is rebellious, but also because she recognizes her own faults. She wants to be treated as a rational creature speaking truth from her heart. She is always interesting to listen to and is ready to laugh at foolishness. We admire her archness and sweetness of manner and that her sense and conduct are superior to the common heroine. She points out the comedic elements of forcing a well-bred and educated woman to be groomed to fill the subservient roll that society allows.
Elizabeth is also admired for her strengths. She has physical strength, rare in novels of Austen's day. She takes long walks, jumps over stiles, and springs over puddles with impatient activity. Elizabeth has strength of character when coping with adversity. If insulted, she uses humor as a weapon and does it brilliantly. When challenged, she challenges back. Elizabeth is the reason P&P is “light and bright and sparkling”. She has depths that take many readings to fully comprehend. She flouts convention and refuses to bow down to Lady Catherine when she pulls rank. She can be unexpected, she teases Darcy, needling him and probing his character. She makes him smile and prods him to re-evaluate his assumptions as she questions her own preconceptions. Her lack of conventionality and depth of character soon bewitch him.
Austen tells her story through Elizabeth's eyes so it is easy to identify with this heroine who is lovable as much for her faults as for her charms. Austen lets us decide for ourselves Elizabeth's character as she slowly reveals it as the story unfolds. Elizabeth is capable of making mistakes, but having realized her errors, she changes and grows as a result. She is constantly being educated, challenged, and changed. She learns that her first impressions are not always correct. Elizabeth must learn to eliminate both pride and prejudice before she is ready for a happy ending. She becomes a superior person morally, emotionally, and intellectually. We are blessed with a happy ending in which a woman finds love, fortune, and happiness by being herself.
You are invited to attend out next reading group meeting on Sunday, July 14, at 1pm, at the home of Stephanie Vardavas. Please see the recent email from our Regional Coordinator Kim Higgins for contact details or see our Contacts page.
The reading group topic is "Kindness of Brothers & Sisters," with Pat Fulbright leading the discussion.
Hope to see many of you there!
During last week's reading group discussion on "Travel in the Novels," there were several resources shown and referred to, including the following:
The next reading group meeting will take place at 1pm on Sunday, March 10th. The discussion will cover "Travel in the Austen Novels" and "Travel Tips for the U.K." The discussion leaders will be Robin Darby-Bridwell, Nelson Bridwell, and Pat Fulbright.
We will be meeting at the home of Kelly Kirschner in Tualatin. Please RSVP to Kelly via the contact info sent to members via email.
I look forward to seeing many of you there!
Regional Coordinator of the Jane Austen Society of North America
Oregon/ SW Washington Chapter
Searchable title on Amazon.com
For our January 13 meeting, let's pretend we're putting together the ultimate condensed version of Jane's letters. We don't need to include all the stuff about Mrs. H. visiting and the cost of muslin or meat; we do want witty comments on balls, marriages, children, literature (including JA's own), etc. There are also references to family dramas and deaths. We can use entire letters if warranted, but in most cases snippets will be enough. Let's see what we can create!
Feel free to read all the letters and select the bits from each you think merit a place in JANE'S GREATEST HITS, but we've gone through them for you and picked out the ones we find the most entertaining or interesting or productive of excellent quotes. The numbers refer to the Deirdre Le Faye collection of Jane Austen's Letters (3rd edition, 1997).
1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 24, 27, 34, 36, 41, 45, 50, 59, 60, 61, 62, 66, 68D, 68(A), 71, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 85, 86, 89, 90, 94, 103, 104, 107, 108, 109, 113, 114, 118, 129, 132(D), 138(D), 146, 148, 151, 153, 155, 158.
Happy New Year and Happy Reading!
Debbie Guyol and Bill Boyd
It is almost time for our January regular meeting! We will commence discussion on January 13th at 1pm at the home of Alexandra Guerra. Our discussion leaders will be Deb Guyol and Bill Boyd. The topic will be Jane Austen's letters ... more soon with details about the topic. Please let Alex know if you are able to attend.
See you next Sunday!
For texts of Jane Austen's letters (Brabourne edition), please visit http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/brablets.html.
For the reading group discussion schedule and more events this year, please see our 2013 Events page.