Get those pens out and be creative!
Make sure the next Reading Group Meeting is on your calendars for Sunday, July 12. The meeting starts at 1 pm. Pat Fulbright will lead the meeting, and members will share their letters written to the character of their choice.
Get those pens out and be creative!
The topic for the upcoming Reading Group discussion, scheduled for this upcoming Sunday, March 8, is Jane Austen's final work, Sanditon. The discussion leaders will be Jennifer and Sam Snoek-Brown. Please read the following in preparation for the reading group discussion:
While Sanditon is an unfinished novel, comprised of only 12 chapters, there are so many opportunities for rich discussion and so many themes that we could potentially discuss as a group. While Sam and I were discussing the unfinished novel this weekend, within only a few minutes we had listed multiple potential discussion topics, including (but not limited to):
As you can see, there is so much potential represented within so few pages!
So how to narrow this down to a single discussion? Sam and I decided to go back to the source -- or rather, the source of Sanditon's initial presentation to the public, which was in 1870 through J.E. Austen-Leigh's memoir of his aunt Jane Austen. In that memoir, in Chapter XIII, Austen-Leigh described the writing of Sanditon and included his own personal summary of it, along with substantial excerpts from Austen's text. The full manuscript of Sanditon was not published until 1925. (Scroll down to the bottom of this message for links to his memoir online.)
Therefore, Sam and I have pulled out the following discussion questions/themes relating to J.E. Austen-Leigh's original introduction of Sanditon.
For sources and/or further reading, please feel free to explore the following:
The next Reading Group meeting is coming up soon so here is a friendly reminder.
(Also, we have a carpool service for those who need a ride. See our Carpool page for more details.)
Members, please check your email, which contained more specific addresses and directions.
Reading Group Meeting topic: Sanditon
Hostess: Ceil Huntington
Date: Sunday, March 8, 2015
Time: 1 pm
Discussion Leaders: Jennifer and Sam Snoek-Brown
Stay tuned for more details about the reading group topic!
Elaine Blatt and Stephanie Fleming led a lively and fascinating discussion for the January reading group. The topic was "The First Janeites, Why & How They Read," and the topic naturally extended into how Jane Austen novels are read in wartime -- and how the novels incorporate (or don't incorporate!) war itself in their narratives or plots.
Below are Elaine's and Stephanie's notes from their discussion prep, which they have graciously shared with the entire membership. They have also included extensive resources and links, embedded within the notes, if anyone would like to explore further.
You can also read the discussion guide questions from Elaine and Stephanie sent prior to the reading group event in this post here at http://www.jasna-orswwa.org/home/discussion-guide-for-january-reading-group
The Janeites During Wartime - Notes & Resources
The Janeites During Wartime
JASNA January 11, 2015
Elaine Blatt and Stephanie Fleming
Most of our information came from these two sources:
War in Jane Austen’s Novels and Napoleonic War Background:
Essays/Blogs on Austen Novels and World Wars:
Bibliotherapy – WW1:
Publishers before/during war effort:
Who are the Janeites?
From Wikipedia and Claudia Johnson:
Janeitism actually began during the Victorian era - after the publication of Edward Austen-Leigh's A Memoir of Jane Austen in 1870. This spawned an era of commercializing Jane. The literary elite felt that they had to separate their appreciation of Austen from that of the masses.
The term Janeite was originally coined by the literary scholar George Saintsbury in his 1894 introduction to a new edition of Pride and Prejudice. He declares himself a “Jane Austenite.” George Saintsbury’s generation is responsible for transforming Jane to a Legend. (Kipling later met with Saintsbury – maybe for background on his short story on Janeites?)
The term Janeites, according to Austen scholar Claudia Johnson, is "the self-consciously idolatrous enthusiasm for 'Jane' and every detail relative to her".
She goes on to say: “Criticism of Janeites mirrors to some degree criticism of Austen herself, that the enthusiasts' interests and Austen's focus herself are on the parochial or regionally social in a world that includes mass political movements, warfare, and the rise or decline of empire.”
We found Janeites had distinct characteristics and interpretations of Jane Austen’s novels during different eras: Victorian Age, World War I & 2, Post War, 50s, 80s, and present day. Also, in each of these eras, Jane Austen has been hated or loved in part about what she did NOT write about. In the 19th Century, it was about passion of every sort not being included. In the early 20th Century, it was war.
There is so much interesting information on Janeite’s in each of these eras, that we recommend delving further into this topic in future meetings.
We decided to focus on the Janeites in the early 20th Century, and take a look at why Jane Austen was wartime literature.
World War I & II Janeites:
[In the early twentieth century, Janeitism was "principally a male enthusiasm shared among publishers, professors, and literati." (Wikipedia)}
On the eve of WWI, Frederic Harrison’s 1913 letter to Thomas Hardy states: “A heartless little cynic was Jane, penning satires about her neighbors whilst the Dynasts were tearing the world to pieces, and consigning millions to their graves. A relation of hers was even guillotined in 1793, her brother was in the fleet that fought at Trafalgar - & not a breath from the whirlwind around her ever touched her Chippendale chiffonier or escritoire.” Harrison’s criticism is his perception of Jane’s indifference to war.
In contrast, on the brink of WW2, in 1939, Laura Ragg writes: “Austen too lived through a long war and suffered the threat of invasion as well as anxiety for loved ones.” She also insists on Austen’s absorption in the everydayness of war and wonders whether Austen’s income from S & S was taxed – as her mother’s extra income would have been, given the war tax imposed from 1798-1815.
Ragg finds that the mood of war is everywhere in Austen’s world and her novels: Austen knew the “stolid equanimity with which the English people supported 21 years of warfare with its attendant griefs and privations…. They suffered indeed from suspense, and from the heart-sickness of hope deferred to a degree which we can scarcely now imagine.”
A. B. Walkley (avid Janeite), writing for Edinburgh Review (during WW1 era?): Austen is not sealed off from politics, but her novels permit us to believe that ordinary life can be lived despite it.
Regardless of Harrison’s opinion, we know that Jane Austen was the cherished companion of the WWI generation – both at home and in the trenches.
War Illustrated cited soldiers requesting Jane Austen’s novels for the front. The December 1915 issue published an article about how soldiers found solace from reading and needed books to be sent from Britain. It reveals the men had no appetite for “literary essays by literary men… what is wanted there is the friendly companionship of a good and kindly book to take the mind away from the contemplation of the terrible environment.” It reveals demand for romance and Jane Austen in particular.
Kipling wrote “The Janeites” in 1917 - (http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/soldiers_fra.htm) Kipling treated Jane Austen on the front lines as a “universal truth” and where she was read not for escape, but for training for the demands of war. And like many British citizens, his family read aloud Jane Austen every evening to get through the war, and then through the mourning of the death of their son in the war.
During WW1, Jane Austen’s novels were read for therapy, too. HF Brett-Smith, a former Oxford don, employed by the British Army to rate novels and poetry in terms of therapeutic efficiency and relief. In Brett-Smith’s “Fever Chart”, Jane’s novels were selected as the most effective form of treatment and recommended for the severely shell-shocked. (Today, bibliotherapists still recommend Jane Austen novels the most of all literature .)
During WWII, Jane Austen’s novels were read in bomb shelters and in high demand by the armed forces. Sales of Pride and Prejudice tripled between 1939 and 1940, and were out of print by 1942 for the first time since her death because of paper restrictions.
The Janeites of the time saw Austen not simply as someone we fight for, but someone we fight with.
Jane Austen’s novels were seen as a reflection of English National Character with a premium placed on behaving well in times of duress (stiff upper lip, etc.). Men identify with the plight of female characters as well – it’s not about gender (like in Victorian times) – but about timeless human nature.
Hugh Walpole, in discussing how the Great War left his generation with a “bitter cynicism” that transformed reading tastes, observed that while the “catastrophes and disappointments of the War left us with a deep contempt for what seemed to us a naïve and desperately complacent idealism of Victorian writers, it was very natural and significant that the one novelist of the nineteenth century who expressed in her work no philosophy at all, whose observation was ironic, whose genius was mainly in the humours of little things, was our own Jane Austen, who might, in spirit at least have belonged o our post-War time.” Claudia L Johnson goes on to say: “She is the contemporary of a generation whose ideals have blown up and respects the humor of little things and home things, not because they are darling, diminutive, or manageable, but more tragically because big bombastic things have been shown to be shams.”
Please enjoy the photo gallery below from our recent January reading group discussion about Janeites and Jane Austen's novels in wartime. We enjoyed a lively discussion -- look for a follow-up post tomorrow with more about that! The potluck buffet was particularly bountiful, as you can see below!
If you would like to contribute more photos -- or captions! -- please contact Jennifer Snoek-Brown, the region's web manager, directly.
Elaine and Stephanie will be leading the discussion this Sunday on early Janeites and Jane Austin in War Time. What began for them as a look into the Janeites of World War I (soldiers who were reading Austen in the trenches, as documented by Rudyard Kipling in his short story,The Janeites), grew into a look at how Austen’s work has been read in wartime generally (especially in World Wars I and II), and to a consideration of the relationship of Austen’s work to the major and long-lasting conflict of her own time, the Napoleonic Wars.
The focus for the discussion will be: Jane Austin’s novels as wartime literature.
To help prepare for the conversation this coming Sunday, Stephanie and Elaine have prepared the following discussion guide. Please give thought to the following questions.
In the 20th century:
We know that Jane Austen’s work was read avidly during WW2 I and II, both by soldiers in the field, and also by British people at home (including, famously, Winston Churchill). In addition, Austen’s work was prescribed as treatment for shell-shocked soldiers and as a source of solace for mourning families.
In the 19th century:
Jane Austen wrote her books during the lead up to and actual conduct of the Napoleonic Wars. Despite the fact that she had brothers in active naval service, that military officers are major characters in her works, and that we know civilians at the time were affected both economically and by occasional fears of French invasion, war receives little if any explicit mention in any of Jane Austen’s novels (Persuasion being the notable exception). Some scholars have argued that Austen can be read as addressing issues of war in her time, notably:
Happy New Year!
It is almost time for our January reading group meeting! We will begin 2015 with a discussion about "The first Janeites: why and how they read," led by Elaine Blatt and Stephanie Fleming. We will gather on January 11th at 1 pm at the home of Alexandra Guerra, in Tigard.
Please let Alex know directly if you are able to attend, and if you will be bringing something for her table. Contact info and directions were emailed to all JASNA members this past week. If you did not receive this email, please contact Kim, our Regional Coordinator (see our Contacts page).
See you all there!
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
Pauline Beard will be hosting our Reading Group meeting on Sunday, September 14, at 1:00 pm. Debbie Eley and Margaret Christmann will lead us in a discussion of Mansfield Park: Secrets and Lies. Please RSVP to Pauline as soon as possible, and let her know if you will be bringing something for the table (see our Contacts page).
Also, we will be selecting discussion topics this month instead of in November. Please bring your ideas!
Don't forget that carpool rides are available, as detailed on our Carpooling page. Just let us know if you need a ride to the Reading Group.
~ Kim Higgins
Regional Coordinator of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Oregon/ SW Washington Region
Welcome to the web site of the Oregon & SW Washington Region of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). We are a friendly and active group dedicated to the appreciation of Jane Austen's life and works.