"The early 1800s were as radical in their uptake of technology as the 21st century in our uptake of technology,” Hemingway said, prior to giving a reading from his newest work, “The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen,” at the Wilsonville Public Library Dec. 6. “There is a parallel, and there’s an excitement in that period and a transformative kind of energy in that period that’s very similar to what we’re going through now.”
A local article focuses on Eugene-based writer Collins Hemingway, author of the new book, The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen. Hemingway, a former Microsoft businessman who majored in English, connects modern technology with Jane Austen's time:
The entire article is available to read at http://portlandtribune.com/wsp/134-news/285206-161620-marrying-microsoft-and-jane-austen
Here's an excellent piece by Slate's Laura Miller about Emma and the perfect novel: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2015/12/jane_austen_s_emma_is_the_perfect_novel.single.html
Below is an excerpt from the article:
It’s now more customary to rank Emma as Austen’s “most perfect” book. But given that Austen has a pretty good claim on the title of Most Perfect Novelist—she never published a bad or even a weak novel—and Emma is widely acknowledged to be her masterpiece, calling it her most perfect book is really just a sly way of asserting its supremacy in the form. Why not come right out and admit it? Emma, which was published 200 years ago today, is indeed the perfect novel.
Jane Austen's works can truly touch every aspect of our lives. Here is a New York Times article, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/20/opinion/jane-austens-guide-to-alzheimers.html, about how Austen's novel Emma helped one woman during a caregiving crisis in her life:
Early on in tending to my mother, who had Alzheimer’s, I was sustained by other Austen novels, but during the middle stages of her disease it was all “Emma,” all the time. What started as entertainment soon became an important guide.
An article from The Guardian, suggested by our own Pauline Beard, about how Jane Austen's Emma changed the face of fiction. An in-depth and interesting take on how Emma is so revolutionary a novel.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
Emma, published 200 years ago this month, was revolutionary not because of its subject matter: Austen’s jesting description to Anna of the perfect subject for a novel – “Three or four families in a country village” – fits it well. It was certainly not revolutionary because of any intellectual or political content. But it was revolutionary in its form and technique. Its heroine is a self-deluded young woman with the leisure and power to meddle in the lives of her neighbours. The narrative was radically experimental because it was designed to share her delusions. The novel bent narration through the distorting lens of its protagonist’s mind. Though little noticed by most of the pioneers of fiction for the next century and more, it belongs with the great experimental novels of Flaubert or Joyce or Woolf. Woolf wrote that if Austen had lived longer and written more, “She would have been the forerunner of Henry James and of Proust”. In Emma, she is.
Click here to read the entire article: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/dec/05/jane-austen-emma-changed-face-fiction
Here's an interesting article from The Guardian, forwarded by regional member Pauline Beard. It's an article written by Elena Ferrante, author of the "Neapolitan" series, all about her love of Sense & Sensibility and the issue of Austen's anonymity when publishing her novels during her lifetime.
The direct link to the article is here at http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/16/sense-and-sensibility-jane-austen-elena-ferrante-anonymity, or click the screenshot below.
OK, I am thinking about a novel which fits all of the following parameters:
ONE: It was published more than two hundred years ago.
TWO: In its original form, it was epistolary.
THREE: It is universally acknowledged to be one of the greatest novels ever written, along with several other novels written by the same author.
FOUR: Its author is widely considered to have been a highly influential literary innovator, who has cast a very long shadow over the history of the novel, and who has provided grist for the mill of hundreds of scholarly articles, books, and dissertations.
FIVE: In the first half of the novel, the heroine is nearly forced by her family to marry an odious, repulsive man, but she is fortunate to avoid that fate.
SIX: The novel’s plot includes at least one attempted sexual seduction by a hardened rake.
SEVEN: There is a scene relatively early in the novel when the speed and evenness of a man’s hand writing of letters, and the rapidity of flow of ideas to a man’s pen, are both explicitly discussed, in verbiage that is laden with clever and suggestive sexual innuendo.
EIGHT: There is a scene when the taking of pains or trouble to attain mastery of a skill by a man who has always had things his way in life is explicitly discussed, in verbiage that also is laden with clever and suggestive sexual innuendo.
NINE: The heroine is referred to in various ways as having bewitched a leading male character.
TEN: The heroine is the favorite of a male ancestor, whose partiality for her is resented within the family.
ELEVEN: There is a war of words between the man and the woman for a goodly portion of the novel.
What is the title of the novel, and who is the author?
As seems to have mysteriously been the case in my previous literary quizzes, there may just turn out to be two novels which meet all the listed criteria--Good luck in discovering both!
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter
Answer to my latest quiz: "fingering" Darcy & Lovelace as darkly Machiavellian "twins"
Cutting right to the chase: I expected that the two correct answers to my quiz (Clarissa by Richardson & Pride & Prejudice by Austen) would occur to anyone familiar with 18th-19th century English novels. I’ll quickly run through all the parallels between Clarissa and P&P except the two most extraordinary ones, which I save for last, and which, I assure you, justify the “unbecoming conjunction” in my Subject Line:
ONE: It was published more than two hundred years ago: Clarissa (1748) &Pride & Prejudice (1813)
TWO: In its original form, it was epistolary: Clarissa was originally epistolary, and remained so. P&P was originally First Impressions, an epistolary manuscript no longer in existence.
THREE: It is universally acknowledged to be one of the greatest novels ever written, along with several other novels written by the same author. Obviously the case with both of these novels.
FOUR: Its author is widely considered to have been a highly influential literary innovator, who has cast a very long shadow over the history of the novel, and who has provided grist for the mill of hundreds of scholarly articles, books, and dissertations: Again, obviously….
FIVE: In the first half of the novel, the heroine is nearly forced by her family to marry an odious, repulsive man, but she is fortunate to avoid that fate: Clarissa is pushed by her entire family to marry Mr. Solmes, whereupon she allows Lovelace to take her away. Elizabeth is pushed by her mother to marry Mr. Collins, but her father lets her off the hook.
SIX: The novel’s plot includes at least one attempted sexual seduction by a hardened rake.
Clarissa & Lovelace AND Georgiana & Wickham.
NINE: The heroine is referred to in various ways as having bewitched a leading male character: Words like “witch”, “bewitched”, “arts and allurements” and “enchantment” are used to derogatorily describe both Clarissa and Elizabeth, as temptresses for Lovelace and Darcy, respectively.
TEN: The heroine is the favorite of a male ancestor, whose partiality for her is resented within the family:
Clarissa’s grandfather dotes on her, which infuriates her siblings, AND Elizabeth’s father dotes on her, which irritates her mother.
ELEVEN: There is a war of words between the man and the woman for a goodly portion of the novel:
As to the above, so far, to paraphrase Horatio, there needed no independent scholar come from the weirdness of Portland, Oregon, to inform the literary world that one of the principal allusive sources for Jane Austen’s fiction was the fiction of Samuel Richardson. That’s very old news. However, what has only been a minority report up till now has been the counterintuitive connection between the tragedy of Clarissa and the light, bright, and sparkling comedy of Pride & Prejudice.
Here are two “Blooming” scholarly formulations of the sort of broad, subconscious, not-very-surprising influence which mainstream Austen scholarship has perceived in that regard prior to the present:
Donald A. Bloom, “The Romantic Power of the Witty Heroine” 1994: “…Darcy is a very imposing figure, not only rich and well born, tall and good looking, but highly intelligent and well educated. Even if he is no seducer of the Lovelace sort, nor even a Rochester, she must regard him as a dangerous and intimidating figure. ….Thus, the contest between Elizabeth and Darcy, unlike the usual battle of the sexes plot, begins with her genuine dislike of him….When they are thrown together at Bingley’s house by Jane’s illness, we find that they are not bickering like Beatrice and Benedick, but simply working and thinking at cross purposes, like a comic Lovelace and Clarissa.Darcy has no idea how suspicious Elizabeth is of his arrogant aloofness, while she has no idea how intrigued he is becoming by her ‘fine eyes’…”
Harold Bloom’s intro to Elizabeth Bennet (2009): “…Austen is the daughter of Richardson….Her inwardness is an ironic revision of Richardson’s extraordinary conversion of English Protestant sensibility into the figure of Clarissa Harlowe, and her own moral and spiritual concerns fuse in the crucial need of her heroines to sustain their individual integrities, a need so intense that it compels them to fall into those errors about life that are necessary for life…In this too they follow, though in a comic register, the pattern of their tragic precursor, the magnificent but sublimely flawed Clarissa Harlowe.
…Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse….are Clarissa Harlowe’s direct descendants….But they belong to the secular age; Clarissa Harlowe is poised upon the threshold that leads from the Protestant religion to a purely secular sainthood.….Doubtless, Austen’s religious ideas were as profound as Samuel Richardson’s were shallow, but Emma and Clarissa are Protestant novels without being in any way religious….What is tragedy in Clarissa becomes serious or moral comedy in P&P and Emma…There is also a transcendent strength to Elizabeth’s will that raises her above that cosmos, in a mode that returns us to Clarissa Harlowe’s transcendence of her society, of Lovelace, and even of everything in herself that is not the will to a self esteem that has also made an accurate estimate of every other will to pride it ever has encountered.…[Eliza’s] wit is Mr. Bennet’s, refined and elaborated, but her will, and her pride in her will, returns us to Clarissa’s Puritan passion to maintain the power of the self to confer esteem, and to accept esteem only in response to its bestowal…”
And that’s pretty much where things stood re connections between Clarissaand Pride & Prejudice till two days ago, as I was reading along in Terry Eagleton’s How to Read Literature, and my gaze was arrested by the following statement: “In Richardson's Clarissa, we are told that the sexually voracious Lovelace, who is also a great scribbler of letters, ‘has always a pen in his fingers when he retires’. Richardson is surely aware of the double meaning.”
I instantly recognized the parallel between Eagleton’s catch in Clarissa and the witty sexual innuendo that I and a handful of other Janeite scholars have previously noted in the following passage in Chapter 10 of P&P (I’ll explain the ALL CAPS words very shortly):
“…Mr. Darcy was WRITING, and Miss Bingley, seated near him, was watching the progress of his letter and repeatedly calling off his attention by messages to his sister. Mr. Hurst and Mr. Bingley were at piquet, and Mrs. Hurst was observing their game.
Elizabeth took up some needlework, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and HIS COMPANION. The perpetual commendations of the lady, either on his HANDWRITING, or on the EVENNESS of his lines, or on the length of his letter, with the perfect unconcern with which her praises were received, formed a curious dialogue, and was exactly in union with her opinion of each.
"How DELIGHTED Miss Darcy will be to receive such a letter!"
He made no answer.
"You WRITE uncommonly FAST."
"You are mistaken. I write rather slowly."
"How many LETTERS you must have occasion to write in the course of a year! Letters of business, too! How odious I should think them!"
"It is fortunate, then, that they fall to my lot instead of yours."
"Pray tell your sister that I long to see her."
"I have already told her so once, by your desire."
"I am afraid you do not like your PEN. Let me mend it for you. I mend PENS remarkably well."
"Thank you—but I always mend my own."
"How can you contrive to WRITE so EVEN?"
He was silent.
"Tell your sister I am DELIGHTED to hear of her improvement on the harp; and pray let her know that I am quite in raptures with her beautiful little design for a table, and I think it infinitely superior to Miss Grantley's."
"Will you give me leave to defer your raptures till I write again? At present I have not room to do them justice."
"Oh! it is of no consequence. I shall see her in January. But do you always write such charming long letters to her, Mr. Darcy?"
"They are generally long; but whether always charming it is not for me to determine."
"It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long LETTER with ease, cannot write ill."
"That will not do for a compliment to Darcy, Caroline," cried her brother, "because he does not write with ease. He studies too much for words of four syllables. Do not you, Darcy?"
"My style of WRITING is very different from yours."
"Oh!" cried Miss Bingley, "Charles WRITES in the most careless way imaginable. He leaves out half his words, and blots the rest."
"My IDEAS FLOW so RAPIDLY that I have not time to express them—by which means my LETTERS sometimes convey no ideas at all to my correspondents."
"Your humility, Mr. Bingley," said Elizabeth, "must disarm reproof."
So, imagine my astonished delight when, a moment later, Google brought me to the full quotation that Eagleton had noticed and flagged in Clarissa, in a letter written by BFF Anna Howe to Clarissa about Lovelace, and I read the following:
“[Lovelace] DELIGHTS in WRITING. Whether at Lord M.'s, or at Lady Betty's, or Lady Sarah's, he has always a PEN in his FINGERS when he retires. One of HIS COMPANIONS (confirming his love of WRITING) has told [Mrs. Fortescue], that his thoughts FLOW RAPIDLY to his PEN: And you and I, my dear, have observed, on more occasions than one, that though he WRITES EVEN a fine HAND, he is one of the readiest and quickest of writers.”
I believe my reason for the ALL CAPS words in that P&P passage---about Darcy and Bingley writing letters, and their contrasting handwriting styles---will now be crystal clear. I.e., they’re the very same words which appear in the above, very short passage in Clarissa describing Lovelace’s handwriting style! And the payoff is that both passages, it should also be obvious (and as I described in Parameter SEVEN) are laden with clever sexual innuendo centered on the phallic symbol of a “pen” (use your imagination to decode the rest of the ALL CAPS imagery).
And that would have been more than enough to upend mainstream scholarly interpretations of JA’s writing as not having conscious sexual content. But that’s only the half of it. My Parameter EIGHT… [There is a scene when the taking of pains or trouble to attain mastery of a skill by a man who has always had things his way in life is explicitly discussed, in verbiage that also is laden with clever and suggestive sexual innuendo]…just happens to also apply BOTH to THE VERY NEXT PARAGRAPH in Anna Howe’s letter to Clarissa…
“[Lovelace] must indeed have had early a very docile genius; since a person of his pleasurable turn and active spirit, could never have submitted TO TAKE LONG OR GREAT PAINS in attaining the qualifications he is MASTER of; qualifications so seldom attained by youth of quality and fortune; by such especially of those of either, who, like him, have never known what it was to be controuled.”
…AND ALSO to the repartee between Darcy and Eliza at Rosings in Chapter 31 of P&P, that I have previously identified as sexual repartee:
"Shall we ask your cousin the reason of this?" said Elizabeth, still addressing Colonel Fitzwilliam. "Shall we ask him why a man of sense and education, and who has lived in the world, is ill qualified to recommend himself to strangers?"
"I can answer your question," said Fitzwilliam, "without applying to him. It is because HE WILL NOT GIVE HIMSELF THE TROUBLE."
"I certainly have not the talent which some people possess," said Darcy, "of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done."
"My FINGERS," said Elizabeth, "do not move over this instrument in the MASTERLY manner which I see so many women's do. They have not the same force or RAPIDITY, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault—because I will not TAKE THE TROUBLE of practising. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman's of superior execution."
Darcy smiled and said, "You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much better. No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you can think anything wanting. We neither of us perform to strangers."
I suggest you now take whatever time you need to reread the above quoted passages from Clarissa and P&P a few times, taking special note of the ALL CAPS words. If you invest that short amount of time, you will see why I believe this is a true smoking gun, in terms of proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the sexualized parallels between Richardson’s tragedy and Austen’s comedy are entirely the result of conscious artistry on Jane Austen’s part.
Just think about fingers holding flowing ink-filled pens, and fingers rapidly flying over a responsive set of black and white keys, and how readily that imagery translates into sexual repartee of the most brilliant and sparkling sophistication. And as if that weren’t enough, speaking of fingers, add into the mix one other passage from Clarissa in a letter from Lovelace to his bro, Belford, that I am now certain was also grokked by Jane Austen:
“I long to know what Miss Howe wrote to her friend, in order to induce her to marry the despicable plotter: the man whose friendship is no credit to any body! the wicked, wicked man. Thou hadst the two letters in thy hand. Had they been in mine, THE SEAL WOULD HAVE YIELDED TO THE TOUCH OF MY WARM FINGER, [perhaps without the help of the post-office bullet] AND THE FOLDS, AS OTHER PLICATIONS HAVE DONE, OPENED OF THEMSELVES TO OBLIGE MY CURIOSITY. A wicked omission, Jack, not contrive to send them down to me, by man and horse!...”
The outrageous sexual imagery in that passage has been noted a half dozen times since James H. Maddox first spotted it in 1982, but I am the first to realize that Jane Austen was already there by 1813 (and probably much earlier), recognizing Richardson’s sly sexual innuendo, and paying it the sincerest homage, by extending it in those two virtuosic passages in P&P! And, for that matter, we also can now see a surprising source for all the suggestive “lock”, “key”, “folds” imagery in the nighttime scenes at the Abbey when Catherine Morland awakens to her own sexuality.
And finally, I cannot imagine a more dramatic confirmation, based on the above, that Jane Austen chose to hide in plain sight an allusion in the character of the supposedly morally upstanding, scrupulously honest Mr. Darcy in P&P to the debauched, Machiavellian character of Lovelace in Clarissa—and as icing on the cake, to flag those two consecutive sexualized passages inClarissa and reinvent them in two separate sexualized passages in P&P!
Now, as to what this all means beyond the above, it will have to suffice for today that I claim this is yet another dark “shade” of Mr. Darcy to add to the twenty I’ve recently collected here…. http://tinyurl.com/kmbl9yq … from posts of mine during the past few years .
This is Jane Austen alerting the sharp elves reading P&P who knew Clarissa well (as she obviously did) that the shadow Darcy is a very dark figure indeed, and much much more like the Protean Lovelace (to borrow Jocelyn Harris’s descriptor) than has ever been dreamt of in the philosophy of conservative and mainstream Austen scholars. Put another way, this is Jane Austen whispering to generations of readers so taken with the sophisticated romance of the overt story of P&P, that they have never been able to “adjust their ideas” to also allow for the possibility of a sophisticated dark cautionary tale about the danger of romantic thinking coexisting right alongside the romance, each in its own parallel fictional universe.
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter
From the JASNA Persuasion archives, highlighted recently in last month's JASNA Update... an article from our very own Mary Margaret Benson! Her article, "Excellently Qualified to Shine at a Round Game", originally published in Persuasions, No. 8, 1986, "demonstrates how the ever-inventive Jane Austen transformed domestic card tables and casual card games into veritable microcosms of the domestic society portrayed in each of her novels."
An excerpt of the article below:
The full article is available to read and enjoy online at http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/printed/number8/benson.pdf, through the Persuasions archives on the JASNA website.
Longtime member Pauline Beard sent along the link to this introspective travel essay published last month in The New York Times, "Seeking Inspiration in Jane Austen's World." A perfect read to revisit old spots -- even if just virtually! :)
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.”
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.
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.