Hi. My name is Mrs. Fitzpatrick. I am a co-founder of Austenacious, and I have trouble reading Emma.
There! I said it!
I’ve read Pride and Prejudice roughly 42 times, and I read all Austen’s novels about once a year. I can read Persuasion in one sitting. But Emma . . . I keep putting it down and not picking it back up. I originally tried to read it three times before I got to the end—this is unprecedented.
Why do I stop? Well, I think it’s mainly because it’s too good. (“Gah! So brilliant! So true to life! Ooh, I just want to shake that girl . . . Am I like her? Hmm . . .”) I have to share, and going into rants about the Eltons leaves most people just befuddled.
So! Join us for our Emma Read-along! Starting next week (January 21–25) we’ll be reading 10 chapters a week. Grab a copy and read with us, and you too can complain about barouche-landaus like a boss.
This has nothing to do with Keanu Reeves dating terminally ill women, just to be clear.
- This is some amazing Austenian…is dollcraft a word? It is now. In context, they’re are actually kind of strange, in the sense that they’re for little kids AND skip approximately 63% of the novel (the MIDDLE 63%, so…good luck with that), but the visuals are fantastic. Action Jane weeps with envy; the only man she gets is Action Poe.
- Need some advice from a two-hundred-year old fictional character? Of course you do, and you’re in luck: Mrs. Elton Sez, everybody’s favorite Austenian Agony Aunt, has deep archives and plenty to say! I mean, of COURSE she does.
Enjoy, Austen Nation.
Are you in or near San Francisco? Do you like people talking about Austen? Do you enjoy dancing on tables? Oh, wait.
LitQuake is coming, and Janeites from near and far (probably mostly near) are gearing up for Jane Austen A Go Go: The Enduring Appeal of Jane Austen, otherwise known as A Panel. We love panels! Get ready to talk Austen with Karen Joy Fowler, Kirke Mechem, Sandy Lerner, and Elizabeth Newark. We are!
What we’re saying is, you should go, ask some questions, drink some tea, and absorb the ambient Janeosity. Miss Osborne and Miss Ball will be there (not onstage), and we’d love to see your pretty/handsome faces!
When: Tuesday, October 9, 6 p.m.
Where: Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter St.
The event listing says there’ll be tea, but we’re bringing our white boots and miniskirts just in case.
All right, Austen Nation, are you ready to do an awesome deed? Make some fellow book nerds’ days? Maybe wallpaper your home with beautiful handmade Austenian paper goods? Dare I say it…CROWDSOURCE?
(Ick. “Crowdsource.” Sorry.)
Whatever. Jarrett Morrison of The Bowler Press and Alanna Simenson of the Mad Hatter Book Binding Co. are raising $20,000 to fund their project of hand-setting a new letterpress edition of Pride and Prejudice—the whole thing, 138 copies, three volumes each, entirely produced by hand. Let’s just say…that’s a lot of letters to press.
Got $2 to give? They’ll love you forever. $50? They’ll send you a copy of the first page for your framing/gazing-at pleasure. And if you’re one of those lucky folks with a spare $2,950 lying around, they’ll happily send you one of twenty-four deluxe editions of the novel, bound in full bookcalf (here I nod with deep understanding, pretending to know what that means). Help ‘em out! You might get a super awesome bookmark out of the deal, and you’ll help spread the gifts of 1) Jane and 2) beautiful bookcraft!
(Seriously, if anybody buys the actual books, do let us know. We want to interview you. By which we mean come over to your house and invade your space and hover over your practically priceless new literary work of art. Without drooling, because that would be bad for the books. So….call us!)
In any case, you’ll want to watch the video, especially if phrases like “hand-carved woodcut illustrations” and “multicolored frontispiece” and “matching slipcase” get your motor running. (Have we ever told you, dear readers, that the Beloved Sisters met in publishing?) There’s a whole lot of coolness happening here, and you should check it out. JANE WOULD. THERE, I SAID IT.
Have at it, people!
Thanks to Mr. Miller for pointing us to Lizzie’s new video blog. Can’t wait to see how it comes out! (Re the statistics on single men of good fortune, see our informal sample. Regression analyses to come. Or possibly not.)
(Click here for video.)
For immediate release: Austenacious requests proposals for a JANE AUSTEN THEME PARK!
Goals: To have a fun place irl to hang out with our peeps, being sarcastical, laughing at our neighbors, and trying not to be sport for them in return. Why? Why not, she said!
Rules for theme park proposals:
Note, we are not talking about some kind of holodeck adventures where we roleplay with low-rent actors dressed up as Mr. Darcy, ala Austenland. That is not a theme park. Nor is it, as AustenBlog pointed out, ironic enough for the Austen fans. We are as ironic as all hell, damn it. That is why we are Austen fans!
Nor, actually, do we want some kind of honest attempt to immerse tourists in Jane Austen’s Bath, or her villages, or even her country houses, with actors waylaying you and attempting to interact or something. How pathetically embarrassing! (OK, I am scared of those people. I admit it.) That sort of thing may be fine for Dickens’ World, but honest, vulgar sentimentality is not for us.
And we have no desire to sully Chawton, Bath, or even Lyme Regis with our water slides. You are talking to someone who almost cried when she saw the Anne of Green Gables theme park, Rainbow Valley.
But Austen is not Brontë. (I guess you knew that.) We can have some ironical, Austen-spirited fun, right? Sure, Bath is practically a Regency theme park, but the essence of Austen isn’t the world—it’s the snark. So we need a theme park with some snark, some fun, a Louisa Musgrove Drop ride, OK, yes, a Colin Firth splashing into the water roller coaster, and maybe Lady Catherine vs. Elizabeth Bennet paintball. The rest is up to you.
That’s the goal. Now hit us!
The time has come and the submissions are in—just in time for Halloween, it’s the Jane Austen Fancy-Dress Costume Contest! We received a number of fine entries for our consideration, and we thank all who participated and/or cheered on the participants. Jane’s, er, new experiences included:
Jane lives her life like a candle in the wind. Or like something in the wind, anyway. (Via Mr. Lim)
Jane follows the yellow sponge road to the emerald city! (Courtesy of Miss Tarango and her teeth, which apparently personally shaped the gummy heart—and whose sacrifice we all appreciate.)
Jane horrifies all possible populations by dressing up in a dress of meat. “This was my idea, and nobody else has done it before,” she said. (Via Miss Ball)
Jane regrets sawing her own arm off, but some things can’t be helped. Would the BRONTEs have done it? We think not. (Via Mr. Lim & Mr. Yoo)
Jane terrifies small children Captain Hook, or possibly Jon Hamm on 30 Rock. Hard to say. (Via Miss Chong)
Stay tuned for the victory announcement—and in the mean time, feel free to champion the Jane of your choice in the comments. Happy Halloween, Austen-Nation! Stay safe out there.
You all know those Jane Austen quizzes that pop up online: Which Austen Heroine Are You? Which Hero is Your True Love? Does anyone ever get Fanny Price? I’m serious here: I’ve scored as Anne Elliot, Emma, and Elizabeth Bennet (not at the same time), but never as Fanny Price. Poor Fanny. She is so hard for modern readers. Even we who like her sometimes want to slap a little backbone into her, want her to tell off Aunt Norris just once. So I was disturbed to find on the Austen-L mailing list page that Fanny Price and I have something in common: our Myer-Briggs type.
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 1996 11:07:22 -0500
The discussion about Fanny Price has been interesting, and leads me to offer my thoughts. My background is in psychology, and I couldn’t help but to try to identify what puts so many Austen fans off about this particular heroine.
I believe that in Fanny, Jane Austen has developed a perfect INFP personality type (in the Jungian or “Myers-Briggs” classification). INFP stands for Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeling and Perceptive as dominant traits. In a word: an “Idealist”. Interestingly, only 1 percent of the population fits into this group.
Consider this brief portrait: INFPs—
- present a calm, pleasant face to the world.
- are seen as reticent and even shy.
- demonstrate cool reserve toward others, but inside are anything but distant.
- care deeply about a few special persons or causes.
- have a profound sense of honor derived from internal values. (This is not necessarily religious morality—they have their own sense of integrity and morality.)
- are willing to make unusual sacrifices for someone or something believed in.
- seek unity of body, mind, and soul.
- often have a tragic motif running through their lives, which others may not detect.
- show deep commitment to the ‘good’ and are always alert for the ‘bad’.
- are adaptable to new information and ideas.
- are well aware of people and their feelings and relate well to most people while keeping some psychological distance.
- prefer to live in harmony and will go to great lengths to avoid constant conflict.
- tend to be compliant, and may even prefer to have decisions made for them, until their value system is violated—then they will not budge from their ideals.
- will often be found in service careers— social work, ministry, teaching (or in Fanny’s case, serving as a companion to her aunt).
I think the only way she might have been persuaded to marry Henry Crawford was if he had had a profound reformation, so that she was able to believe that not only was his love true and deep, but her values of honesty (integrity) were shared. I believe she could accept less of a passionate love from Edmund Bertram because she believed him to share her same values.
I don’t have the psychological background to debate Theresa’s take on INFPs in general, (anyone? Bueller?) though I do think it’s a good portrait of Fanny. But do I share these characteristics that put “so many Austen fans off about this particular heroine”? I’m really finding it surprisingly discouraging that had I lived in Austenland I would only have had Edmund Bertram to look forward to!
Come to think of it, these characteristics describe Anne Elliot as well as they do Fanny Price. And yet Anne is not so annoying as Fanny, not so very self-effacing. So I think there is some hope for we INFPs after all. We just need to be born rich, rather than as a poor relation given away when we’re young!
Readers, what do you think? Would you be disturbed to be compared to Fanny Price? Do you think Anne Elliot is like Fanny, but born into better circumstances?
Here at Austenacious, we take Jane a lot of places. So far, she’s been to Hollywood, the Caribbean, Graceland (for the presumable purpose of getting familiar with that other King), and the top of our very own Christmas tree—just to name a few. But one place we could—would not?—not take our dear Action Jane? That massive New World display of machismo and capitalist purchasing power, the Super Bowl.
Luckily, Jane fans worldwide have our backs, and aren’t afraid to take Jane adventuring 140 characters at a time—beginning with country singer Rosanne Cash, the Janeites of Twitter took up the cause of #JaneAustenAtTheSuperbowl like a torch of gentle hilarity, and haven’t let up since.
The entire Twitter stream is here; for the impatient and the Twitter-averse, a few bon mots:
One hopes the unfortunate incident involving the lady’s corset is not repeated on this occasion. (@rosannecash)
The gentleman in the stripes? A known blackguard! I send no compliments to his mother. (@rosannecash)
Some ladies are determined to sport bonnets made of cheese. I must take to my bed. (@rosannecash)
Regarding the Legume Chorale, it grieves me to note that the spectacle exceeds the musicality. (@rosannecash)
Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death, lest I mention the tuck rule. (@heymrmike)
I love a three-point play!” said Mrs Bennet. “A little three-point play would set me up forever.” (@KeethInk)
No one knows how I suffer. Such flutterings of my heart and pains in my head. Perchance too many jalapenos. (@anamcara1004)
Has this sack been all your doing then? cried Miss Cheesehead to her brothers. “Good heaven! how very, very kind! (@itsthebunk)
I have not had the pleasure of understanding football. (@writershouses)
I will not say that your Steelers are dead, but I am afraid they are not alive. (@janiceharayda)
Well played, Austenite citizens of the Internet! Well played.
Today, Twitterer (Twit? Tweeter? Tweetmeister?) @davidshayne spoke my soul. To the entire internet!
“I never hate humanity — or myself — more than when I read the comments section on any blog.”
People, this is true. Years of wading through freewheeling grammar and usage, heart-stopping displays of cluelessness, and predictable passive aggression have all taught me that the comments section of any blog but my own—because you, dear readers, are perfect and gentle and know that “u” is not a pronoun*—is no place for this sensitive soul.**
But sometimes, this is also false. We at Austenacious spend a lot of time trawling the Internet for cool, unusual Austen-related content, and you can take it from us that Austen fans are an outspoken bunch. Are you, members of the global community, hating on Jane? Are you explaining, in your infinite wisdom and yet with little insight, why ladies like her books? Are you implying that Jane, being both dead and a girl who writes about girly things, shouldn’t be taught in schools? Don’t think we don’t notice. We notice. In fact, we will BURY YOU—often not with an avalanche of rage and misplaced modifiers, but a persistently paced stream of well-intentioned informational talking points (punctuated by the occasional, justified burst of emotion). If you’re wrong and we’re right—because we must be right, right?—there will be no justice until you’ve been informed of the magnitude of your wrongness and the many ways in which you might rectify the situation. And there’s something both hilariously obnoxious and really wonderful about that, in the sense that the correcting is enormously repetitive but also extremely eager and sometimes accompanied by some dose of truth and/or humor (note: often unintentional). We Jane fans speak up for ourselves, and we speak up for Jane. We bring things up. We share the knowledge, whether the knowledge wants to be shared or not. Because if there’s anybody who must have liked being right, it was probably Jane.
And if we get to call somebody or something “stunningly stupid,” well, bonus points.
*Readers: Consider this your encouragement to prove me wrong. Hit us with your best shots!
**Not true. I sometimes read the comments on Smitten Kitchen, because they are informative and include answers to questions like “So, what will happen if I make this recipe with a completely different set of ingredients?”, and I find that entertaining.