Through a series of compelling close readings of key passages in each novel, Wiltshire underscores Austen's unique ability to penetrate the hidden inner motives and impulses of her characters, and reveals some of the secrets of her narrative art.
A new title of close readings of Jane Austen's novels was published last month, The Hidden Jane Austen by John Wiltshire. It promises to be an interesting read, if any of our members are interested in delving into deeper psychological explorations of Austen's characters.
There are also some special reader features on the Cambridge University Press website, including a book trailer and a free preview of the introduction and first chapter!
The second book in the "Austen Project" series has been released, Val McDermid's modern take on Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. The new release garnered a positive review in the New York Times Book Review, as quoted below:
"Cozy Classics" are a series of board books of classic literature, including Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Emma. The photographs capture creative felted illustrations and characters. The series was created by twin brothers Holman and Jack Wang -- and each board book is only 12 words long!
For more info online:
Jane Austen Books: 10 Essential Reads For Janeites, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/02/jane-austen-books-_n_3695495.html
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.
BBC Radio 4 has begun a radio program of Sense and Sensibility, dramatized by Helen Edmundson. The BBC Radio 4 website includes Episode 1 -- with a week open to listen before Episode 2 goes live next Sunday, August 11th -- as well as galleries of the cast and related clips. Just click here for all the details, at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b038btbr .
Pride and Prejudice and Kitties, published earlier this spring and co-authored by our own Debbie Guyol, has been garnering good reviews -- of the book as well as the website! Check out all the news & reviews here at the Pride and Prejudice and Kitties web site at http://prideandprejudiceandkitties.com/news-and-reviews/ .
”If you’re a Jane Austen fan, or a fan of furries, you’re going to fall in love with this book…Janeites will love the photos that include little head-nods to other Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen references – such as the Jane Austen for Dummies book in one photo and the Jane Austen figurine in another. Finding these throughout was a joy.”
There's a recent, fascinating article about Jane Austen and game theory in the New York Times. In a new book, Jane Austen, Game Theorist, political science professor Michael Chwe argues that:
"Austen isn’t merely fodder for game-theoretical analysis, but an unacknowledged founder of the discipline itself: a kind of Empire-waisted version of the mathematician and cold war thinker John von Neumann, ruthlessly breaking down the stratagems of 18th-century social warfare."
Read more of the article by clicking here, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/23/books/michael-chwe-author-sees-jane-austen-as-game-theorist.html