What’s that you say? It’s the end of the week, and all you want is some fun Jane Austen links while you wait for the weekend to appear? Well, don’t say we never did nothin’ for you.
(Especially delightful: Northanger Abbey. That GLOW!)
(Answer: Knightley.) (It’s because I said Mindy/Danny, isn’t it?)
I now pronounce it The Weekend. Be free! Be free!
If you are anything like the Austenacious team, you will be spending Sunday evening watching people you do not know win awards you did not help bestow. You may or may not care about the awards themselves (though, ahem, you may feel unusually strongly that Cate Blanchett should win for Blue Jasmine); you may be watching to ensure that Lupita Nyong’o has worn something flawless, or to see who’s photobombing whom, or maybe you’re just super into the Mani-Cam.
And at some point, somebody you are rooting for will lose. Somebody you are rooting against will win! That person will make a terrible, boring, pretentious speech. And you will think, just for a second, Well, nobody asked me.
But take heart. WE are asking you. Be our Academy! Below, we’ve created a series of Jane-related categories for which we feel there should be awards, and we need your votes! Click, and make your voices heard! And when La Blanchett wins, we know she’ll thank you in her acceptance speech.
Okay, everybody: Today is Valentine’s Day. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Today, have you confessed your continued love and faithfulness after an eight-year break? Spent some quality time with a friend (while her husband putters in his garden)? Squeezed the hand of a beloved sister? And let’s be real: Have you sent someone a picture from the Internet to express the depth of your affection?
Oh, you’re missing that last one? Let us help. We made these Valentines just for you! Take them to heart, send them to your loved ones, and remember: We love you like Mr. Rushworth loves a puffed sleeve.
(For you ladies who would prefer see Mr. Knightley fully clothed [we assume to better remove his clothing in your mind], here’s a different version.)
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Oh, Austen Nation, did you hear?
A previously unknown scrap of paper hand-annotated by Jane has appeared, tucked into a book at the Jane Austen’s House Museum!
A small but rare sample of Jane Austen’s handwriting has been found tucked into another book at the Jane Austen’s House Museum. The scrap reads, “Men may get into a habit of repeating the words of our Prayers by rote, perhaps without thoroughly understanding — certainly without thoroughly feeling their full force & meaning.” It is thought to be a passage from one of her brother’s sermons, rather than her own composition, though the museum’s curator, Mary Guyatt, told The Guardian, “What especially intrigued us about this fragment is its apparent date, 1814, and the evidence that offers of the cross-currents between Austen’s family life and her literary reflections on prayer in Chapter 34 of Mansfield Park, published the same year.” Writing on the back of the scrap of paper is less legible, but scholars plan to use humidity to try to clean the paper and decipher it.
I love this. I don’t think I could be more excited if it had been a long-lost novel. It could be a grocery list (“Kale, cheese, cheese, cheese, the good red licorice”), and I’d be thrilled. And while I’m not sure I’d like my own miscellaneous paper trail to turn up for all posterity, I think this is for the same reason I automatically read everything by Kate Atkinson, and why I heard about the Tina Fey episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and watched it at lunch in my office that very day: it’s more. I want to hear what these women have to say about pretty much everything, and I’m happy to follow that trail of breadcrumbs. Even if they’re trivial. Especially if they’re trivial, because trivial so often means unrehearsed. And, of course, because Jane is no longer with us, this little surprise bit of everyday presence seems even more precious and exciting. Even if it isn’t something she herself came up with, it’s something that struck her—enough that she wrote it into that apparently telling passage in Mansfield Park. It’s a little bit of Jane’s brain, written out and hidden in a book for two hundred years.
Thanks for the surprise, Jane.
We talked last week about my recent passion for the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast and my ongoing trip through its back catalog (Today: Ari Shapiro on Miley Cyrus at the VMAs! Relatedly, I would like to register my love for the giant picture of Mr. Shapiro on the NPR Careers website. Work at NPR: We don’t all have faces for radio!). And I got to thinking.
You could say I’m a bit of a podcast junkie. I’ve got your This American Life; I’ve got your RadioLab; I’ve got your Splendid Table; I used to have your Fresh Air, until they changed the format and I fell behind and iTunes gave up. I’ve cried over many episodes of The Tobolowsky Files, with Stephen Tobolowsky, and I’m well-versed in the entire back catalog of the excellent Official LOST Podcast. I regularly listen to a number of podcasts where people discuss knitting for an hour or more, and then I listen to them again, because they’re just that interesting.
What kind of podcast do I NOT listen to? Jane Austen podcasts. That’s because, as far as I can tell, there are none.
Really. I looked. There are podcast episodes about Jane, and versions of her works read aloud, but I didn’t find a single instance of a serial podcast covering all things Jane.
HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? A complete lack of Jane-oriented podcasts seems implausible to me from any direction.
First of all, we Janeites have a lot to say. Have you seen how many websites we’re able to keep populated? (The Jane-adjacent book review sites alone!) We’re a large community with diverse views on a lot of topics, and it’s not like don’t want to talk about it. It’s completely strange to me that nobody’s regularly switching on the mic to talk Jane, if only to drunkenly MST3K all the movie adaptations. (…Mrs. F and Miss O, I believe I hear our calling calling.)
Second of all, there are podcasts about everything. Did I tell you about the multiple knitting podcasts? There are so many general literary podcasts out there, and so many other podcasts about seemingly un-podcastable topics, that I just can’t believe that Janeites have decided to sit this one out.
So, tell me, readers: Are Google and iTunes lying to me? Do you all know of any Jane Austen podcasts, and do you have any favorites? Hook your Janeite sisters and brothers up!
People, Jane is following me into some weird places this week! For example:
1. I just finished the Penelope Fitzgerald novel The Blue Flower. We’ve—okay, I’ve—talked about Ms. Fitzgerald and her excellence before; she’s a wonderful writer who seems to get blank looks whenever I bring her up. Anyway, The Blue Flower is a strange little origins story concerning the German Romantic poet Novalis (né Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, or “Fritz”) and his true and deep love for, and subsequent engagement to, the twelve-year-old Sophie von Kühn. And what does young Fritz give his barely pubescent love as a token of his affection? You guessed it: A PIANOFORTE!
I was, as you can imagine, one excited Austen fan. I was also pretty confused: what did it mean? Was it a secret pianoforte? Was Fitzgerald weaving themes of deception and hidden love into her novel, encouraged by the shadow of Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax? Was it all just one big secret message for the Jane-obsessed?
Upon further thought, here is what I believe it means: I think it means Fritz von Hardenberg, a real person who lived in real Germany and fell in love with a real seventh-grader, bought his fiancee a real pianoforte, and Fitzgerald included it in her novel. Which is a little disappointing from an interpretive perspective, but it made me pretty happy anyway.
2. I don’t know if you all listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour, the weekly NPR pop-culture podcast hosted by Linda Holmes ‘n Friends. If you don’t, not to worry: I’m making up for you. As a recent convert, I am systematically listening to ALL OF IT, in reverse order, and it is making my heart sing on a daily basis.
Today, I was listening to the PCHH episode from October 18, 2013, which includes a segment on pop culture that makes us cry, and why. And let me tell you: if you haven’t recently watched (or, in this case, listened to) the scene from the 1995 Sense and Sensibility where Emma Thompson completely loses her cool over Edward Ferrars’s apparent singleness, you should probably do that, possibly in the privacy of your own home, because it is GREAT and also completely deserves its reputation as a tearjerker. Podcast co-host Trey Graham cites it as Teary Moment Prototype #1: people doing the right thing, suffering for it, and later being rewarded for their actions, and if you saw a girl walking, teary-eyed and smiling, along the Embarcadero in San Francisco around lunchtime today, that was, uh, definitely not me. Nope.
Anyway, it’s lovely. (The relevant clip begins around the 30:00 mark in the link above, if you want to hear it.)
Has Jane been following you around this week, readers? Let’s hear it.
Put away your pride and your high hopes for the world, kids; today, we’re playing a game. It’s Would You Rather: Austen Edition! So, tell me.
Would you rather…
…be single and a burden to your parents OR marry Mr. Collins?
…share a dorm room with Mary Bennet OR Miss Bates?
…fall down a hill in the rain OR fall off the seawall in Lyme OR fall off the ha-ha?
…be daughter to Mrs. Bennet OR Lady Bertram?
…find yourself suddenly dating Mr. Willoughby OR Mr. Wickham?
…be poor in a cottage by the sea with no servants OR be very wealthy but married to Mr. Elton?
…never be spoken to again by Mr. Bennet OR Mrs. Bennet?
…take a turn about the room with your crush, OR allow him to admire your figure from afar?
…wear a necklace from Mary Crawford OR play a pianoforte from Frank Churchill?
…marry a guy who said something mean about you at a party OR a guy you haven’t seen in eight years OR someone who points out your screw-ups?
Happy New Year, Austen Nation!
The holidays have passed, and we have risen from the ashes of all the holiday gluttony and sparklitude and are ready for a brand-new year of Janely fun with you all! It’s going to be the official best, just you wait.
I love this for a couple of reasons. First of all, it kind of makes me want to high-five my girl Edith Wharton, though a) when don’t I, and b) intuition tells me E-Whart might not have been a high-five-loving kind of lady. I do love me some House of Mirth, though. It’s all just so complicated: How terrible that Lily ends up the way she does! But also, as the piece says, how darkly inspiring that she never does fall in line with The Man! But Lily is hardly an intentional feminist heroine, spending her life chasing rich (or rich-ish) men as she does. And also, would it kill her to make a reasonable decision, like, once in her life? But even if she did do something right, would it even make a difference? What is happiness for Lily Bart, and is it something she can attain at all?
I’m not saying Wharton is better than Austen, or that Lily is better than Lizzy, or even that unintentional defiance to society/a failure to properly conform is better than a happy and respectful marriage and a fabulous manor house—but I enjoy the comparison.
Second—and, full disclosure, I say this as a Jane fan who doesn’t spend much real-life time other Jane fans in organized settings, and I’m sure your Janeite group is full of lovely and open-minded people—I sort of enjoy the way this plays out in Jane Group. I love Jane; you all know this (or, I hope you know this). But I don’t only love Jane, and I don’t think Jane is the only interesting writer out there, and I think there are so many interesting conversations to be had where Jane is only one part of the equation. And, you know, I’m sure those conversations are happening out there in the wide world. But I’d like to see more of them, and contribute to more of them, and hey, maybe Austenacious is a good place for that in the future. (I know, sweet readers, that you’re out there reading non-Jane lit. It’s okay to say.) So maybe…maybe here’s to more broad-ranging Janely conversation in 2014, and to embracing Jane as a part of something bigger. What do you say?
What a year! Sadly, we lost our father and then our brother and his greedy wife took the whole inheritance. We moved into our current home–it’s a bit snug, but at least we don’t have too many servants to keep us comfy! In the spring, Marianne injured her ankle (b00), but also met a nice young man and another nice older man (yay!). Elinor keeps the house running (and seems to have met a nice young man, but we don’t know what his deal is yet), and Margaret just sort of…does whatever. Happy holidays from our family to yours!
This year, I turned the big two-seven. Still single, but what can you do? Spent some time at the beach, and it looks like my friend Louisa’s going to be okay. If you know any lonely but faithful (and handsome) sea captains—and by that I mean, one very specific lonely but faithful (and handsome) sea captain—you might want to subtly let me know. Merry Christmas!
This year at Longbourne has been very exciting! Three of our girls were married, two of them taking us quite by surprise, and two of our sons-in-law are very rich! (I’ll let you decide which is which!) Mary continues reading something boring, and Kitty must find a personality of her own, now that our Lydia’s gone away! Mr. Bennet spent lots of time in his study. Maybe next year these old nerves of mine will get a break!
Happy holidays from the Woodhouse-Knightley household! Pretty much everybody we know got married this year, including me! Go figure. Mr. Knightley moved in so Dad could stay at Hartfield. The rest of the year was full of parties, picnics, one very mysterious pianoforte, and a whole lot of personal growth—but we won’t get into that. Just make sure to come see our new strawberry patches this spring, each and every one of you! Happy New Year!
Guess what, everybody? It’s pre-Thanksgiving, Austenacious-style! Action Jane is at the head of the table, awaiting her eggs and onions; don’t you see the glow of the twinkle lights (or maybe that’s just, you know, the Internet)? Afterwards, we’ll have alcohol-spiked cream. But first, let’s go around the table and say what we’re thankful for! I’ll start.
I’m thankful for Emma Woodhouse, who is a lovely girl and a bull in a china shop, all at once, in the way that people are.
I’m thankful for Jane and Mr. Bingley, who are always pleasant and forebearing, and never get anything done.
I’m thankful for Mary Crawford, who is neither a heroine nor a villain, but is interesting nonetheless.
I’m thankful for Anne Elliot, who proves that sometimes we find love with handsome sea captains even after the advanced age of twenty-seven.
I’m thankful for Mr. Knightley, who can be a little judgmental, but is mostly a really good guy.
I’m thankful for Elinor Dashwood, who keeps it together until the very end, and for Marianne Dashwood, who keeps it together almost never.
I’m thankful for pianofortes, for necklaces given in friendship/schemery, for trips to the strawberry patches, and for treacherous walks on the seawall.
I’m thankful for Mr. Collins, and Mr. Rushworth, who love expensive staircases and wear pink.
I’m MOST thankful for you—yes, you, specifically—who share your thoughts, and your humor, and your reading time with us on an astonishingly regular basis. Truly, you guys are the best.
So, Austen Nation, what are YOU thankful for?
(In other news, Austenacious is taking Thanksgiving week off. See you after the turkey settles!)