Posted by: rearadmiral | February 19, 2013

Post Downton downer edition

Alexa Adams (@ElegantExtracts) tweeted at 2:40 PM on Mon, Feb 18, 2013:
“In spite of the wine she had been drinking, poor Alice was uncommonly out of spirits…” – Jack & Alice, Austen’s Juvenilia, Vol. the 1st

Period Drama/Romance Movies
“I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine…” ~ Elizabeth Gaskell (North & South)

Happy Bday Helen Fielding!! (ok this one is for all you Bridget fans!)

“Like the author, Elizabeth Bennet is attentive to the weather, for she is liberated by being out of doors. She visits her sick sister by walking across the fields in what the Bingley sisters call ‘dirty weather’, though this is a telling inaccuracy on the part of two cosseted ladies”. pg106 -John Mullan “What Matters in Jane Austen”

More important, who are we to say what Jane Austen-what a mind like Jane Austen’s-was or was not capable of at any given moment in her development? Personally, I don’t find it credible that P&P was written by anyone, at any age. The human quality represented by the creation of a P&P-call it genius, or talent, or creativity; a gift from the gods or genetic good luck-is never easy to understand, or perhaps even accept, by those of us who do not possess it(and often even by those who do). A writer like Austen, and especially the early Austen, only makes the matter worse, for as with Shakespeare, the magnitude of the achievement seems utterly incommensurate with what is known of the life that produced it. We know what feats of preposterousness this has led to in Shakespeare’s case. In Austen’s it has led only to the doubtful premises and unwarranted inferences I spoke of before.
pg13 “Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets” by William Deresiewicz

“I would far rather have two or three lilies of the valley gathered for me by a person I like, than the most expensive bouquet that could be bought!”
~from Wives & Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

Quartet who rivalled Jane Austen set to go online – Scotland –
THEY were best-selling female novelists whose eloquent tomes – often set in Edinburgh society – ­outsold Jane Austen during her lifetime.
I have just started this book. I think the reviewer, a specialist in Impressionist and modern art(?????)(was there no actual scholar/academic available NY TIMES????), is flat wrong about Carol Shields’ book!!!
“Jane Austen aficionados like to share their mild outrage at the casting in some of the many film versions of her novels, especially the casting of the actresses who
play the heroines. Sometimes this is prompted by the film-makers’ provocative neglect of Austen’s characterisation – the choice , for instance, of Billie Piper, energetic action girl, as Fanny Price in an ITV Mansfield Park – but often the offence is a matter of looks. Could Gwyneth Paltrow be Emma, as she was in the 1996 Hollywood film? Her accent was less a worry than her looks. Not only the wrong-coloured eyes(blue instead of Emma’s ‘true hazel’) but also a willowy frame that seemed not to match Austen’s insistence on her heroine’s physical robustness. And how could the thin and delicate Keira Knightley be chosen for Elizabeth Bennet, famous for her three-mile walk down lanes and across loamy fields? Such casting is often an affront to our presuppositions about how Austen’s heroines look. The affront is telling, for these presuppositions are founded on so much that is only implicit in the novels themselves”. pg56 -John Mullan “What Matters in Jane Austen”


  1. I have just finished Mullan’s book – could just go back and start it all over again – he is brilliant – you will love it! – and I completely agree with your disliking the NYTimes reviewer’s snide comment about Carol Shields – let him try to write a short life [as the penguin lives required] as she did – her loving tribute to Austen… you are spot-on in your critique!

  2. Thanks Deb!!!! I did love Mullan’s book!!! I see my postings ran together. I’m a third of the way into Paula Byrne’s book. I like it but don’t love it as much as Mullan’s book. If I remember correctly, the beauty of Carol Shields book was when she was writing about the books.

    • Hey Kirk,

      I have just started Byrne’s book as well! I loved her ‘JA and the Theatre’ – if you haven’t read that you must – gives a whole new perspective to Austen’s writing…

      Wish I was nearer to Boston – you guys have so much going on all the time – incl your book group!

      • Hi Deb,
        Thanks for your kind words! You have wonderful posts. 🙂

        I haven’t read that book…thanks for mentioning it! I see you have a wonderful program in April. I hope to sail in your direction, weather and other factors being favorable. There is a book on that subject by Brian Southam…”Jane Austen and the Navy”. Have you read it? Alas, the only copy locally is a reference book. I have peeked at it.

        Thanks again!


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