The Great Jane Re-Read: Mansfield Park

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo

This week’s contender: Mansfield Park.

I’ve written about Mansfield Park on the blog here.  It was also the topic of my senior thesis for my undergrad English degree, in which I wrote about how Fanny was a model of femininity to be embraced, not ignored. One of these days I’ll upload it to the Internets and share it.

My favorite movie version is the 1999 one.

Previous entries in the series: Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice. 

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The Great Jane Re-Read: Pride and Prejudice

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo

(Other links in this series: Sense and Sensibility; Northanger Abbey)

I’ve written about Pride and Prejudice here and here.

And people, there is ONLY ONE P&P movie. ONLY ONE.

(If you want some video, click the second link above).

There is no other version. The Keira Knightley version does not exist in my world. Jennifer Ehle is Elizabeth, and Colin Firth is Darcy, and that is all.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the book!

  • P&P is, without a doubt, the Jane novel I’ve re-read the most. I used Mansfield Park (which is next!) a lot, obviously, when I was writing my thesis, but P&P has been read, straight through, the most. It’s also, coincidentally, one of Jane’s shorter novels. It’s shorter than Sense and Sensibility,  and it’s only 40 pages longer than Persuasion, so P&P is the second-shortest of her novels.
  • The action gets started right away, which is another reason I think it’s shorter. It’s concentrated, in a way. Bingley is introduced on the very first page–the narrative and characters are set, and we’re off.
We're talking about Pride and Prejudice today in the Great Jane Re-Read! Join us! @emily_m_deardo

Mr. Darcy comes upon Elizabeth.

  • It’s so hard to read the parts of this novel where Elizabeth believes Wickham (does anyone else feel this way?). After you’ve read it a few times you just want to yell, “RUN AWAY!” The first time you read it, of course, it’s a sucker punch when Darcy’s letter reveals him about halfway through the novel, and you cannot believe it.
  • I love the scenes of Darcy and Elizabeth at Rosings. It’s just so obvious that they are more alike than they think.
  • We're talking about Pride and Prejudice on the blog! Come join in @emily_m_deardo

    Elizabeth and Darcy, post-wedding

  • I wish we still wrote letters to people. Email is faster, no doubt, but the handwritten quality of letters is so delightful.
  • Georgiana Darcy is fun, isn’t she? At least I think she’s fun. I would love to know more about her, and I wish Lizzie had gotten to spend more time with her. Since this novel is so streamlined, we don’t get the insight into the secondary characters that we do in some of the others.
  • Whenever I read about Darcy’s library, I want to know what’s in it. What do you think Darcy would like to read?
  • Jane told her family the fates of the other characters–both Kitty and Mary end up married, but I wonder what their husbands were like.
  • We're talking about Pride and Prejudice! Join us! @emily_m_deardo

    The Bennet sisters: Lydia, Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, and Kitty.

  • And: Did Mr. Collins ever inherit Longbourn? Or did Mr. Bennet outlast him? (Probably not, but I can see how that would’ve mae Mrs. Bennet happy.)

Share your thoughts about P&P in the combox!

‘To be very accomplished’: Learning to draw

‘It is amazing to me,’ said Bingley, ‘how young ladies can have the patience to be so very accomplished, as they all are.’

–Pride and Prejudice

I often joke that I was born in the wrong century. Not medically–in any other century I’d be dead–but socially. A lot of my skills are in the old-school definition of ‘accomplishment’, as Bingley talks about in Pride and Prejudice (and which we will be talking about on Thursday in the Jane Re-Read!). I can cook, knit, sew (cross-stitch and mend), play the piano, sing, etc.

‘A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.’

‘All this she must posses,’ added Darcy, ‘and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.’

–Pride and Prejudice

I certainly have the extensive reading down, but I’ve never been able to draw. Really. My brother could do it, and my grandfather, but not me. Art class in school was never a subject at which I excelled. As I got older, I thought I’d never be able to learn it.

But then Melissa turned me on to Sketchbook Skool. This is an online art school, taught by professional artists and teachers. It’s video-based, and each class lasts six weeks. I enrolled in “beginnings,” and I’m in my last week of the course.   I have definitely learned to draw!

My first Sketchbook Skool assignment.

My first Sketchbook Skool assignment.

Learning to draw at Sketchbook Skool @emily_m_deardo

A drawing I did at my grandmother’s house, a few weeks into the class.

(I don’t know why the second one is wonky…sorry guys!)

Anyway, yes, I am really happy with the progress I’m making. The classes have been so informative and I love the teachers. I’m enrolling in another class next week, because in ‘beginnings’ we haven’t covered everything. We’ve done watercolors, pen, pencil, colored pencil, and we’ve learned a bit about technique, but I really need to work on perspective and depth in my drawings.

Learning to draw with Sketchbook Skool @emily_m_deardo

There are times when it’s really frustrating–don’t get me wrong. Some of my drawings are much better than others. But I see something good in every piece I do, so that’s definitely a step forward.

SBS is a great example of how the Internet can be awesome. I never would’ve tried to do this if I hadn’t gotten the recommendation from Melissa, and I never would’ve found these great teachers. I can move through the classes at my own pace, right tin my house. It’s not something I have to leave my house to do, which is nice.

Summer is a great time for experimentation and learning new things–are you doing anything this summer like this? Or can you draw much better than I can? 🙂

The Great Jane Re-Read: Northanger Abbey

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo

(If you’re new here, read the beginning of this post to get the ground rules/ideas.)

I wrote this about Northanger Abbey last year.

My favorite movie version is this one, from the BBC (click the photo for details):

OK, so let’s talk about the book:

I really like Catherine–do you? I mean yes, she has some silly moments, but generally, she’s not a bad kid, especially for one who has never been away from home before and is thrown into social situations she’s never been in before. She’s much more sensible than, say, Lydia Bennet! (Whom we’ll talk about in the next installment.)

The Great Jane Re-Read: Northanger Abbey @emily_m_deardo

Henry and Catherine.

 

I just wanted to throttle the Thorpes. I always feel that way, but this time it was with special vengeance. Isabella is just so silly and stupid! Not to mention money grubbing: “Oh, I love James! Oh, no I don’t, his income is too small. Oh, wait, I love him again! Because no one else will have me, la!”

And John? How in the world does he think Catherine wants to marry him? He rivals Mr. Collins in his stupidity of women, but at least Mr. Collins was never as outright rude and coarse as John is.

General Tilney is a really interesting character, isn’t he? He terrifies his daughter and obviously Henry has his own problems with him. He’s not a model father, that’s for sure, although I don’t think any of the readers ascribe such villainous deeds to him as Catherine initially does. 🙂

Speaking of that, I love the scene when Catherine finds out that the papers are just laundry lists. It’s sort of like Ralph in A Christmas Story: “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine? A crummy commercial?!”

The Great Jane Re-Read: Northanger Abbey @emily_m_deardo

“LAUNDRY?!”

Have you read The Mysteries of Udolpho? It’s still in print, amazingly–Oxford World Classics has an edition that I’m pretty sure is only still in print because of Northanger Abbey. It’s not a bad read, if you’re interested in digging deeper into Catherine’s favorite genre.

The next time Jane will set a book in Bath will be Persuasion, her last completed novel, and the novel isn’t entirely set there (much like NA isn’t entirely set in Bath–it’s funny that we have to wait so long to get to the titular abbey, right?). Anne Elliott is not quite as sanguine as Catherine is about being in Bath, that’s for sure.

The Great Jane Re-Read: Northanger Abbey @emily_m_deardo

Northerner Abbey, the Tilney home and the novel’s namesake.

Catherine’s family seem so jolly, doesn’t it? 10 children, but also her parents seem to be really down-to-earth, practical sort of people (Although I imagine you’d have to be, in order to have 10 children and not be completely nuts.). She might be–I’m just now considering this–the most practical mother in Jane’s writing. Mrs. Bennet is not. Mrs. Dashwood sort of gets there by the end of the novel, but she has her moments of crazy. There is no Mrs. Woodhouse in Emma, nor is there a Mrs. Elliot in Persuasion, although Mrs. Elliot seemed to be a very lovely person, based on Anne’s remembrances; but Sir Walter wasn’t exactly a peach to live with. What do you think?

The Great Jane Re-Read: Sense and Sensibility

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read!  We're talking about Sense and Sensibility@emily_m_deardo

We’re doing this slightly out of order–I read S&S first this year, so we’re starting there.

Since this is the first post on the Jane Re-Read, let’s do some basic ground rules:

1) Yes, she’s Jane here. I can’t call her “Austen” like I would “Dickens.” Jane just seems like a friend to me. Hence, Jane.

2) Abbreviations: S&S–Sense and Sensibility; P&P–Pride and Prejudice; MP–Mansfield Park; E–Emma; P–Persuasion; NA–Northanger Abbey; JA–Juvenilia, (not her initials. 🙂 )

3) In each entry–which will come up every two weeks–we can talk about anything related to the book. I’ll post links to other things I’ve written about the particular book, and I’ll also post my favorite movie version of each book (there are multiple versions of every book except NA, I think.)

4) I won’t summarize the book. You can google it for that. I’m assuming you’re going to read (or have read) the book. So it’ll just be notes. So, if you haven’t–spoilers, y’all.

Ready, y’all? Let’s start with Jane’s “darling child,” S&S.

I wrote two pieces about S&S here and here, and my favorite version of the movie is the 1995 one, although the BBC’s latest effort is more faithful to the book, overall.

S&S was originally titled Elinor and Marianne, and Jane took time off between the first draft and the published version we know as S&S. She wrote the first draft when she was younger, but it wasn’t published until several years later. Her family relocation to Bath, the death of her father, and the fallout from that made for a peripatetic life. Finally, her brother Edward settled Jane, her mother, and her sister and best friend Cassandra , at Chawton Cottage in the village of Chawton. It was there that Jane revised S&S, P&P and NA, and wrote MP, E, and P. 

The Great Jane Re-Read: Sense and Sensibility @emily_m_deardo

The Dashwood sisters: (l-r) Marianne, Margaret, and Elinor.

Much of S&S deals with a topic Jane was intimately familiar with–what happens to the wife and daughters of a man when he dies. The Dashwood women do not fare nearly as well as the Austen women did. Jane’s brothers all pooled their resources to provide for Jane, Cassandra, and Mrs. Austen. (Cassandra was engaged, but her fiance died in a shipwreck.)  Regency society was very hard for unmarried and widowed women, and that’s illustrated well in the novel. Without Sir John’s easy rent terms for Barton Cottage, the family would’ve been very hard pressed to find anything near their former situation. While the Dashwood women now live in a cottage instead of handsome Norland Parkthey still have at least one maid and a manservant, and are able to live in an approximation of their former life (none of the women have to work, for example, to earn money). But their lives could’ve been much easier if John Dashwood had kept his promise to his dying father.

The closeness of the two sisters is also true to life for Jane. Jane endowed Marianne with several of her qualities: Marianne adores Cowper (Jane’s favorite poet), and shares some of Jane’s personality; also, Jane was the younger sister (and second youngest child in the Austen family). It is easy to imagine Cassandra as Elinor, especially since Elinor is an artist, as Cassandra was. The closeness of sisters is examined in many of Jane’s novels, but particularly here and in P&P (with Jane and Lizzie). In Persuasion, Anne Elliott isn’t close to either of her sisters; Fanny Price in MP is close to one of her younger sisters, and Emma’s older sister, Isabella, is a sort of non-entity since she is married and lives in London, not Highbury, with her husband and children.

The Great Jane Re-Read: Sense and Sensibility @emily_m_deardo

Col. Brandon gives Marianne (Kate Winslet, second left) a new piano.

It’s interesting that only MP deals with brothers–Fanny is very attached to her brother William, who serves in the Royal Navy (as did almost all of Jane’s brothers). Edmund Bertram treats Fanny like a sister for much of MP, but they’re cousins. There are no “true” brothers in any of the other novels: In S&S, he’s the girls half-brother, from their father’s first marriage; there are no Bennet boys, which is a major plot point, and both the Woodhouse and Elliott families have only girls. (This is also a major plot point in Persuasion, not so much in MP.)

I have a lot in common with Marianne. We both love music and romance and poetry, but I also have a bit of Elinor in me. I would never act like Marianne does in the ballroom scene in London, for example. The old-fashioned girl part of me waits for the man to approach and to do the asking. Like Elinor, I’m aware of social norms and what’s acceptable behavior, and 99% of the time, I follow it. (The other 1%…well, sometimes we all go nuts. :-)) But I also am fiercely loyal, like Marianne is, and don’t take fools lightly, although I generally use my Elinor side to refrain from saying whatever I think. (See, Marianne and the Middletons.)

Am I the only one who wanted Edward to buck up? You are not in love with Lucy anymore–break off the engagement! I totally support him keeping his word, but come on, Edward! You were willing to spend your life with a woman who drove you crazy because when you were young you made a mistake and got engaged?! Boo.

The Great Jane Re-Read: Sense and Sensibility @emily_m_deardo

Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Edward (Hugh Grant)

I think every girl has her Willoughby–that man she falls head-over-heels for, the one that seems so perfect. And then you find out he’s not. Maybe he’s not a scoundrel, a la Wickham, but he’s not perfect, and he’s not the man for you.

It’s a fine line between Marianne and Elinor. If you stay silent, like Elinor does, you could miss your chance. But if you’re overly eager, as Marianne is, it can cause you problems later on. I always wondered what Margaret would end up like–more Elinor, or Marianne? Or a good mixture of both?

Like all of Jane’s heroines, Marianne learns a lesson by the time she weds the Colonel (who, incidentally, is never given a first name in the books. He’s just Colonel Brandon.), but I think she’s happier for it. I think she and Elinor both have good, solid marriages, where both of them can love and esteem their husbands (as Mr. Bennet exhorts Lizzie to do in P&P). 

The Great Jane Re-Read: Sense and Sensibility @emily_m_deardo

Marianne (Kate Winslet) and Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) after their wedding.

What do you think of S&S? Are you more a Marianne or an Elinor?

Back to Pemberley: The Great Jane Re-Read

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo

 

It’s almost Memorial Day weekend here in the States, which is the unofficial summer kick-off. Barbecues will fire up, pools will open, and school kids enter the homestretch of the school year, if they’re not already out.

In my house, Memorial Day means it’s time for the Great Jane Re-Read.

I first fell in love with Jane before I went to college. Like most women in the 90s, this is the image that led me to Jane:

Mr. Darcy, I presume. @emily_m_deardo

Yes. I wasn’t drawn to Jane because I was naturally precocious–I was drawn to Jane because of Colin Firth.

There is nothing wrong with that! 

During summer vacations, my best friends and I would spend a lot of time on hot summer days watching movies in one another’s houses. One day, Tiff whipped out her parents’ 6 volume VHS set of Pride and Prejudice. I’d been wanting to read the book, but I hadn’t–yet.

We spent an entire afternoon watching it. And it was glorious. So glorious, in fact, that I went to Barnes and Noble, got Jane, and preceded to read P&P in one big gulp. I used newly discovered Amazon to buy the rest of her books when I was in the hospital later that summer. I read them eagerly, voraciously, devotedly–I underlined passages and made notes in the margins. When I was in college, I chose English Lit as my specialization, and my senior thesis was on….yeah, that’s right….Jane. 🙂 Specifically, feminism in Mansfield Park, and no, that does not mean what you think it means. (In a nutshell, my argument was that we should all be nicer to Fanny Price, and that Jane liked that character, and we should too! I’m Team Fanny! And Hailey basically writes my thesis in blog format in that post. Sort of. Maybe one day I’ll share the thesis with y’all.)

So, every summer, I go back to Jane, starting Memorial Day weekend. This year I’ve started early. I’ve already re-read Sense and Sensibility (Hardcover Classics), and I’m reading  The Annotated Northanger Abbey right now, so I’m also doing this out of order. 🙂 (The order is Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey.) I got a new copy of NA for my birthday, so I wanted to read that after S&S. (Yes, I do have multiple copies of Jane, including the gorgeous Penguin ones that are illustrated here. Seriously, they’re divine)

Why do I re-read her every summer? For a lot of reasons. I get more familiar with the books; they seep more deeply into me. And there’s things I notice every time that hit me differently. I’m not the same person I was the last time I read these books. I find myself liking or disliking certain characters more. For example, I really disliked Emma the first few times I read her book. Now, she’s getting better (but is she “handsome enough to tempt me?”).

I intend, as I re-read these over the summer, to write about each book after I finish it–a bit of Jane notes, if you will. And of course I’ll direct you to my Jane series that I did last year. 

Will you join me in the re-read? Which Jane protagonist is your favorite? Which is your least favorite?

 

The Annual Summer Jane Austen Re-Read! Join me @emily_m_deardo

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 74

seven-quick-takes-friday-2

I.

Welcome to a sunny spring day. 🙂 I just want to curl up in the puddles of sunshine like a cat. However, I will be sure to get out today and enjoy this weather!

II.

This week I’ve been really watching what I eat and weighing myself every morning. I know that does not sound like a load of fun. But for me it’s good to keep track on the numbers so I can adjust my plans when necessary. I want to lose a substantial (read: more than two pounds) amount of weight before my next clinic appointment in early June, so that means being on top of these things. I should probably do a Whole 30. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and I have the book upstairs, but….I keep saying “I love my coffee creamer!” (Which I do.)

The time has come, people, to just Do It. (Mayhap with modifications. Because me and dairy, we’re tight, and vitamin D/calcium are quite important for my bones given my CF history of malabsorption of vitamins. But I’ll ponder.)

I shall keep y’all updated.

III.

My new editorial calendar is all set up for the next few weeks, and I’m excited about this .

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 9.55.53 AM

Essentially, I’m working with Trello for my calendar. It’s a flow where I have my ideas column, then every step in between. This way I keep all my projects organized and I have a sense of what’s going where, when. It also means that this site and my author site (please follow!) will have regular, high-quality content being posted. That’s exciting!

Some of the topics coming up are: a tour of my office; confession 101; my writing process, and Jane Austen’s views on marriage.

IV.

It’s Donate Life month, y’all. As you know, I am a big supporter of organ donation, because without it, I’m not here. Really. I would’ve been dead before my twenty-fourth birthday. That’s pretty sobering stuff.

But because Suzanne, a woman in Minnesota, decided to be an organ donor, I am here, writing to you. 🙂

There are more than 123,000 people on the waiting list for an organ donor. That’s more than the amount of people that can fit inside Ohio Stadium during an OSU game. 21 people die each day waiting for an organ–when I received my lungs, that number was 18.

To find out more about organ donation, go here. And please consider being an organ donor. I’ve had an entire decade of life I would not have gotten otherwise, thanks to my donor.

V.

For your viewing enjoyment:

A

VI.

I’m reading Ivanhoe right now, and I’m more than 60% done with it. I have to ask–Why is it called Ivanhoe? Because he’s barely been involved at all. 

VII.

I’m teaching the CCD kids about the Ascension this week. Since we covered the Assumption last week, they should be OK with this. We’re also throwing in a dash of apostolic succession, because, why not?