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#Jane Austen
academiaa-a · a day ago
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did it hurt? when you bought a copy of a book but found a much prettier version of it in a bookstore the next day?
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sarcasticbookaddict · 2 days ago
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Whenever characters in a period drama write fancy letters in fancy handwriting with a fancy quill by a candlelit window in the middle of the night, I am tempted to try calligraphy, but then I remember my handwriting looks like chicken scratch and abandon all hope.
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perfectquote · a day ago
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There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature. My attachments are always excessively strong.
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
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synchronousemma · 2 days ago
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About
Synchronous Emma is a guided communal reading of Emma that is set to take place in the same 14-month period over which the events of the novel occur. The reading will begin in late September of 2021, with the wedding of Miss Taylor, and conclude in November of 2022, with the wedding of Emma Woodhouse. Because the year of 2021 began on the same day of the week as the year of 1813, when Emma is set (see below), we will be able to observe both dates and days of the week in this synchronous reading.
The idea for this project occurred to me upon reading Marcia McClintock Folsom's remarks on Emma's chronology (2004). She notes that giving indications of days, dates, months, and seasons "in a very unobtrusive way," usually through asides in characters' speech, is one way in which Jane Austen constructs the realist texture of her novels (xxix). Jo Modert also argues that the consultation of almanacs and the use of calendars "added pattern and meaning to Jane Austen’s novels" (53). She suggests the presence of "a hidden calendar game for the reader" in Emma, given the fact that many major events in the novel fall on holidays--both Old Style (Julian) and New Style (Gregorian)--and given the frequency of references to holidays in chapter nine of volume one (57). Attentiveness to the dates on which certain events, given surrounding descriptions, must have occurred, will also grant additional significance to those events--for example, the fact that Jane's gifted piano arrives on Valentine's Day, or the fact that the Eltons must rush to marry before the Lenten season begins (ibid.).
My interest in a synchronous reading of Emma, though, is not solely in this sort of "game." I feel that such a reading will also be valuable as a practice in immersion–I think it may be impossible fully to understand the sense of isolation and boredom that Emma feels throughout the "long October and November evening[s]" that open the novel if one's engagement with her is contracted due to the abbreviated time, compared to the events described, that it takes to read the novel (Austen vol. 1, ch. 1; p. 2). Folsom writes that referencing a chronology will help readers to understand that "Austen conceived of the action as unfolding in time"; reading a novel, I suggest, is also an action that unfolds in time, and connecting our lived temporal experience to Austen's work is one way of engaging with the question of "realism" in her novels. The experience of reading, no less than the methods used in writing, go into creating a novel.
I also feel that spacing out our reading of the major events of the novel, and giving ourselves enough time to fully consider and discuss each incident as it occurs, will help to do some justice to the often-vaunted complexities of Emma's structures and themes. My hope is that the slow and communal nature of this reading will foster debate about characters' perspectives--many of the major conversations in the novel are, after all, arguments! This sort of reading may also help to dispel a certain bad habit of talking about characters as if they are responsible for knowing information that, at the point in the plot that is under discussion, they did not have yet, in forcing us to sit with the uncertainty of limited information for as long as the characters had to. Given that Emma as a novel is as much epistemological problem as it is marriage plot, this style of reading seems particularly appropriate.
The timing of this synchronous reading of Emma is based in large part on Modert's revision of Chapman's chronology in The Jane Austen Companion. She observes--based on the remark that “Mr. John Knightley must be in town again on the 28th” (Austen vol. 1, ch. 9; p. 52), details of their travelling arrangements showing that John and Isabella Knightley and the children must have left Hartfield on the 27th, and the fact that their departure occurs the day after Sunday, which is itself the day after Christmas--that the novel must be set in 1813 (or 1802). In several places, I have made Modert's chronology more granular in order to give participants a guide for how far along to read, given that weeks sometimes occur over the course of sentences. The blog will be updated with "assigned reading" and discussion points each time the chronology advances. A list of events, their dates or approximate dates, and their corresponding places in the novel can be found here.
Due to the difficulties of remembering details of plot over the amount of time that this reading will cover, and the fact that discussions are sure to contain references to events that have not yet occurred in the novel, this synchronous reading of may be best undertaken by those who have read Emma in the past.
Bibliography
Austen, Jane. Emma (Norton Critical Edition). 3rd ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, [1815] 2000.
Folsom, Marcia McClintock, ed. Approaches to Teaching Austen's Emma. New York: MLA (2004).
Modert, Jo. "Chronology Within the Novels." In The Jane Austen Companion, ed. J. David Grey et al. New York: Macmillan (1986), pp 53-9.
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mr. darcy went from, "she is handsome, but not handsome enough to tempt me," to "you've bewitched me body and soul." and i am here for it!!
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anghraine · 11 hours ago
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Thinking of P&P moments I have ~feelings about, and:
Elizabeth, who was by this time tolerably well acquainted with her own feelings, was perfectly aware that, had she known nothing of Darcy, she could have borne the dread of Lydia's infamy somewhat better. It would have spared her, she thought, one sleepless night out of two.
1. I love how understated “by this time tolerably well acquainted” is. There are so many ways that Austen could have said that at this point, Elizabeth has more or less realized she loves Darcy. But this escalates from her earlier thought that she could have loved him in a subtle way that can sneak right past if you’re not paying attention.
2. To break that down further, I think “by this time” in particular suggests that she was not well-acquainted with them previously. And this quote comes from after Lydia’s elopement but before it’s resolved/Elizabeth knows anything about Darcy’s involvement. It’s not that Elizabeth knows anything more about Darcy at this point than she did when they parted at Lambton. The suggestion here is not that Elizabeth’s feelings have changed, but that she better understands them now.
3. I see the occasional suggestion that Elizabeth never really loves Darcy, or that she does but not romantically, or that it’s romantic love in a sense but basically dispassionate.
... nah.
But seriously, I do find it striking that even in the midst of the Lydia situation, with so many other things to worry about, Darcy is still taking up that much of her mental space. OTPPPPPP
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Property & Prejudice
Property ownership is at the root of many great conflicts in Austen's works--most memorably in Pride and Prejudice given Mrs. Bennet's (well-founded) anxiety about her daughters' impending poverty upon their father's death, as they cannot by law inherit his estate. But other women do inherit property in Austen's novels--Anne de Bourgh is introduced as "the heiress of Rosings and very extensive property," and, at least at the beginning of the story, Emma seems likely to inherit her father's estate, Hartfield.
The answer to these discrepancies lies in old English Common Law. Today, we generally think of property ownership as all or nothing--if you buy a house, you expect to be able to sell it or give it to anyone you choose. However, for centuries real property like the great estates in Austen's novels was most often transferred by inheritance, not sale, and often with restrictions. For example, the period in which you held the property could be limited by whoever gave it to you, i.e., "the grantor." If the grantor gave you a "life estate," you held the property only for the duration of your life, and then it went back to the grantor upon your death. Estates could also have a host of other limitations, and in Austen's work, estates are commonly held as "fee tails." In a fee tail, the property would be held by the grantee for his life, and then, at his death, pass automatically to a male heir. If the grantee had a son, then the estate would pass to him; otherwise, the estate would follow primogeniture principles until an eligible male relative was identified.
Sexist, right? Well it turns out the origins of this practice are also deeply classist, as this article explains:
"Entailing property was an attempt to maintain the high social status of a family. A lord or other landholder left his house and land to his son 'and the male heirs of his body', ensuring that a single male descendant received the family’s real estate. Where the family has a noble title, the entail follows the title, so the same man gets the real estate and the title." [x]
So the idea was that, rather than run the risk that someday someone might get desperate and sell the property to some "lesser" family, the property would always belong to the high-status family that originally received it (or more accurately, a male relative of that family).
This is why Mr. Bennet can't give his estate, Longbourn, to one of his daughters--he only holds Longbourn in fee tail, and because the Bennets have no sons, the estate will pass automatically upon Mr. Bennet's death to his brother's son, Mr. Collins. Though Mrs. Bennet lives in dread of the day when the Collins's will take over Longbourn, it never happens on the page. In Sense and Sensibility, however, the Dashwood ladies are turned out of their home by their half-brother, John Dashwood, who has inherited the family estate, Norland Park. Most likely, Mr. Dashwood received Norland in fee tail, and he, like Mr. Bennet, has no control over what happens to it upon his death. The Elliots likewise have no sons, and so their home, Kellynch Hall, will pass to Mr. Elliot, a male cousin.
As for the women who do stand to inherit large properties, their estates are likely not fee tails. Anne de Bourgh will inherit Rosings Park likely because her parents owned it absolutely. Likewise, Mr. Woodhouse likely owns Hartfield without restrictions--there's never any fear that Emma will be kicked out by a distant cousin upon his death. On the other hand, the Knightleys seem to own Donwell Abbey as only a fee tail. Emma takes it for granted that Isabella and John's son Henry will one day inherit the estate, and she is very distressed when she thinks that Mr. Knightley might marry Jane Fairfax, have a son, and then disinherit Henry (there are other reasons Emma is distressed by this image and poor Henry is probably never getting that house, but spoilers!)
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pemberlaey · 2 days ago
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new dress got me feeling like i should be polluting the shades of pemberley
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Lady Russell: *testing the waters* Anne, what do you think about Mr Elliot?
Anne Elliot: *calmly* well, he is an incredibly amiable gentleman.
Lady Russell: I would say that he has been particularly friendly to you, my dear.
Anne Elliot: *embarassed* Lady Russell!
Lady Russell: it is only natural that people finally understand what a catch you are, do not be shy! Mr Elliot would be the perfect match for you!
Anne Elliot: *doubiously* would he?
Lady Russell: he is the heir to the title of baronet, he is rich and, as we have already said, he is so charming that even your father and sister are completely smitten with him!
Anne Elliot: I suppose-wait a moment, my father and sister like him.
Lady Russell: *puzzled* yes?
Anne Elliot: and you like him too.
Lady Russell: *raising her eyebrows* I told you so, is that so weird? Everyone likes him!
Anne Elliot: *slowly* yes, a man that is liked by people who are completely different from one another for philosophies and goals in life is most definitely weird.
Lady Russell: now you are exaggerating.
Anne Elliot: suspicious, at least.
Lady Russel: you could just say you do not like him, you know.
Anne Elliot: *gears turning* something is up.
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ladybirdwithoutdots · 18 hours ago
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The Third Wheel :D
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One of the funny running gags in Emma 2020 is Mr Woodhouse and his beloved screens, lol. You see them from the beginning and they surprisingly become useful in the end when they provide Emma and Mr Knightley a moment of privacy^.
Like many things in the movie, that scene is a joke, I think, about the well known figure of the "chaperone" (in the scene it is represented by her father). At the time, unmarried ladies weren't allowed to be alone with a man, even if said man was their husband to be (no wonder why they wanted to marry asap!), so there always was someone with them (usually an old lady, a maid, or their father/brother), a third wheel of sorts ensuring the lady's reputation was safe while still allowing a couple to spend time together. However, there are stories about couples finding ways to steal moments of intimacy even while chaperones were there, or even the chaperone itself would allow the couple a moment of privacy without explicitly saying they wanted to do that. Lovebirds always found a way, no matter the time (which in some cases resulted in ladies giving birth to their first child 7-8 months after the wedding ceremony^) Of course, chaperones or third wheels were a favorite subject when it comes to satire. This is one of those satirical illustrations from the time that was used by Autumn de Wilde as inspiration for the movie:
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..just in the movie they replaced the big umbrella with Mr Woodhouse' screens and he is the "chaperone" instead of an old lady 😂.
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In one of the Emma's spin off novels written by one of Austen's great-great-grandnieces ('Later days at Highbury'), Emma and Mr Knightley have a baby boy pretty soon after their wedding, but everyone in the village thinks it's a miracle they even found a moment of privacy to conceive a baby given Mr Woodhouse was constantly with them playing annoying third wheel, lol.  Indeed, I thought the "kiss behind the screens" scene in the movie was also a nod to the fact Mr Knightley will have to share his own wife with her father, and he gotta do what he gotta do to steal some moments of privacy with her outside of their bedroom, lol.
In a way, that cute scene is a bit like a glimpse of their future, but also a nod to the kind of dynamic they already have even before they become a couple: her father had always been a bit of a third wheel that didn't really prevent them from having their own interactions.
In the movie, they hint this aspect from the beginning when Emma and Mr Knightley banter while her dad falls asleep^, and then that hilarious scene where they are arguing about Harriet and Robert Martin and they show Mr Knightley following Emma into another room and they both walk around Mr Woodhouse reading behind his many screens not even noticing them, lol. The screens were indeed used as a running gag in all those scenes with the payoff being the end where Mr Woodhouse’s screens are what allow them to finally kiss (and for all the complains some may have about her father being there, it’s actually, strangely, more appropriate and possible in context than a lady kissing a man when they are alone, outside her house, in her garden or any other place where it would be possible for someone to see them)
The idea in those scenes is that Mr Knightley and Emma always had this intimate relationship where he's so at ease at Hartfield that even her father's presence is part of the picture, but not really something that prevents their interactions from being exactly what they want them to be in each stage of their relationship. The difference the movie shows is the evolution of their relationship: at first they generally follow the etiquette of the time and never touch (there is even a moment in the scene with their niece where they realize they are alone in the room and he tries to move away, but she's the one allowing him to stay). The funny thing is, at least this was my experience with the movie, this is an aspect (the fact they don’t really touch at first) you really realize only when they do touch eventually and you are like ‘oh.’ and you understand why the characters have a ‘oh.’ moment too.   Because the intimacy between them is so palpable from the beginning that you don't realize they aren't even touching..and then when they finally do, you understand how big a deal it must be for them (it's like that in the book too? That's why everytime he does touch her she's like !?omgomg!?!?!!, which admittely isn’t a feeling so easy to truly convey on screen but I appreciate this movie for trying). In the end, when they get together, it’s no coincidence that the first thing George does when he's finally sitting next to her is reaching for her hand. He also reaches for her hand at the wedding. It’s those touches that signal the change in their relationship and, in a way, hint their intimacy more than the kiss itself. (the hand holding thing also is a nod to the fact he’s a puppy in love and by the end of the book he constantly needs to be near his dear Emma, and honestly he doedn’t get enough credit for it because those little hints are so cute).
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beyondgenre · 2 days ago
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I hope it will last forever but maybe it will just be a few days, and it will be great either way. Because you never stop learning about love. Love is joy, pain, surrender, laughter, pleasure. Love is chemistry. Love is one of life's greatest adventures. And, with love we are kids forever, stumbling and learning as life unfolds. And this is why, whatever happens, we must keep our hearts open.
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