Readers of Two Teens in the Time Austen have probably come to realize that I *ADORE* anything that is “old” and “authentic” and “original”.
So a while back I S-E-A-R-C-H-E-D high and low for pages images (not text) or the early editions of Austen’s novels. I’m still searching for a couple of volumes. These multi-volumes for one title are a killer! So if anyone comes across the missing volumes do let me know…
In the meantime, enjoy the “originals”.
These can also be accessed by using the page link at the right –> Authentic Austen, Scott & Waldie. I like my Austen with a cup of tea; how about you??
Sense and Sensibility
(the first edition is missing vol. III though…; let’s hope all the pages are present in the others)
This “Halloween” weekend, JASNA members and guests gather in Portland, Oregon for the Annual General Meeting; 2010’s Theme, as you can see, centers on Northanger Abbey.
Must admit, thinking about it, I still like my paper proposal which talked about bringing into society the two “Debs” of 1818: Catherine Morland, heroine of NA, and my own sweet Augusta Smith – who was presented at Court. Her sister Emma wrote extensively about Augusta’s court dress, as well as Mamma’s; and some conversation from the Queen (Charlotte, consort to George III) and the Princess Elisabeth — Augusta, Mrs Smith, Queen Charlotte and the princesses all had the same art teacher: Miss (later Mrs) Meen. They were instructed in the fine art of painting flowers. Catherine Morland’s debut, of course, came in entry into Bath society. Austen captures well the ‘crush’ of such social gatherings, as well as the hesitant demeanor of a young woman’s foray into society and the company of strangers.
But my thoughts don’t stay long with the 2010 AGM; no! 2011 — and my paper. The ideas swirl around, for I like audience interaction and want them to see and hear art and music from the period. One painting I will be sure to talk about: The Sisters, by Sir William Beechey (the Huntington Museum of Art, in West Virginia). Readers of this blog can find my posts about this work (post 1; post 2): for its description fits ALMOST perfectly a description of a Beechey work portraying Mary and Elizabeth GOSLING. But, the younger sister seated at the piano, the elder enjoying the moment of interaction with the viewer, this piece credibly could portray Elinor and Marianne Dashwood!
I’m surprised no publisher has planted The Sisters on an S&S cover yet…
Although I study Jane Austen’s novels, I look for what they can tell about the time period; and compare them to the diaries and letters of the Goslings and Smiths in order to flesh out how their lives would have been led. When I read Jane Austen’s works, it is usually for pleasure and certainly never for dissecting them into quiz questions. There is simply a lot I do not recall about them – no bad thing, as it allows me to read them more than once, for the enjoyment of her language if nothing else.
So when on Sunday, March 1st, our JASNA chapter’s guest speaker Prof. Mary Ellen Bertolini (Middlebury College) mentioned the essays of Tony Tanner (who wrote these mainly in the 1960s-1980s) as being insightful commentaries on Austen, I trotted over to the university’s library and took it out. Right away the title of one essay sounded arresting: “The Anger in the Abbey” – about Northanger Abbey, of course. (Tanner treats this last published book first, in consequence of its being written c1803).
Austen provides a particular image of Catherine Morland when she has Catherine speak about her dislike for history. But only after Tanner’s stressing one piece of Catherine’s comment did my little grey cells begin to grasp that the comment may be taken at face value — or more than face value. Here is Tanner:
“I should like to draw attention to a conversation in chapter 14 during which Catherine expresses her distaste for ‘real solemn history’. Compared with the Tilneys’ liking for ‘history’ this might seem to indicate a certain shallowness or callowness of mind on Catherine’s part. Yet she does make one telling point which is usually overlooked. One reason why ‘history’, as then written, does not appeal to her is this: ‘the men are all good for nothing, and hardly any women at all–it is very tiresome [emphasis added].”
It is a comment we can associate with the Austen who wrote her comic History of England.
I know I enjoy reading the letters of the women of the two families I am studying — perhaps simply because, being a woman, they touch on the fundamentals of life that interest me: travel, family, friendships. Business matters or how many birds were bagged over a shooting weekend I can live without! But I never THOUGHT about Catherine Morland’s comment (and the hidden meaning behind it) before: Was Jane Austen, then, an early advocate for what we would now call Women’s Studies??? Perhaps so…
I must say, after pondering the TYPES of information we historians can find about those who lived a couple hundred years ago, it does rather boil down to: When they were born and to whom; who they married; their children; and when they died. So who can ever blame Austen for concentrating on the most ‘interesting’ part of any person’s life: her character’s family and whose family that someone marries into.
I had reason to look up letters of Emma Austen’s maternal grandmother: she writes of visiting a Mrs Carr and says “to our great surprise [we] were informed that she was at liberty to say every thing was now settled Between her Brother Henry Greg [sic] & Miss Gosling the Greggs are as you may suppose in high Spirits the Goslings not much delighted Old Mrs. Gosling sais she will not consent but I think Miss Gosling is determined… poor Mrs Gosling finds the Pill rather disagreeable to swallow“. Miss Gosling, by the way, is Mary Gosling’s Aunt Gregg – her father’s sister. Born c1770, she would have been about 24-years-old at this time (spring 1794), and the lone chick left in her mother’s nest. Mrs Smith adds something to which many woman might relate: “I fancy her home was not comfortable the Mother is an odd woman“. Oh dear!
My point in bringing this up is that this little snag in the lives of the Goslings and Greggs is just what sucks one into their lives, it entices you to tease out more of their story (though whether more can be found, in any instance, never mind this one, is another story). What was Old Mrs Gosling like? If her daughter (Maria Gosling) was unhappy, what about her son William and his Eliza (for she evidently lived long periods with them)? And here is the very type of story we love Austen for! The push and pull of family, versus the new family a woman wants to make for herself. It is actually surprising how many couples, in just this extended family, encountered problems with familial opposition: Augusta Wilder seems not to have been the dessert of choice for Henry’s father — though Henry was besotted with her; Richard Seymour’s sister was actually talked out of marrying the man of her choice (he did not make enough money); and yet she finally married him. And another couple in Richard’s family, brought down upon themselves the rath of the potential father-in-law — before they too wed. Such tales are why Austen’s novels seem timeless — as well as perfect mirrors of her time.
And why I will never read them in order to remember how much Lady Catherine spent on her chimney piece, or what type of dog Henry Tilney keeps!