Hot off the Presses!! ~ Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine, No. 68

The new issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World is “out”!

Jane Austen in Vermont

JARW68-cover

New issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World!

The March/April 2014 issue [No. 68] of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine is now published and will be mailed to subscribers this week.  In it you can read about:

  • William Beckford, the remarkable author and architect who led a somewhat sordid life
  • Joanna Trollope on her rewriting of Sense & Sensibility for HarperCollins’s Austen Project
  • Mary Russell Mitford, the writer who sought to emulate Jane Austen
  • How Jane Austen supported her fellow writers by subscribing to their books
  • The story of Julie Klassen, marketing assistant turned best-selling Regency romance novelist

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Plus: News, Letters, Book Reviews and information from Jane Austen Societies in the US and the UK.

And: Test your knowledge with our exclusive Jane Austen quiz, and read about the shocking behaviour of our latest Regency Rogue

You should subscribe! Make sure that you are…

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Friday Follow: Hot off the Press! ~ Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine, No.64

Happy Friday everyone! Huzzah! A new issue of our favorite Jane Austen-inspired magazine Jane Austen’s World is now available.

Did you know that you can now read it digitally on your iPad, NOOK, Kindle or other tablet devices? This was the best news possible for me and I did the happy dance all day.

I am sharing with you Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont’s excellent announcement of the release of the new issue. Enjoy!

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

Jane Austen in Vermont

JARW64_Cover_small

The July/August 2013 (No 64) edition of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine is now out – watch out for it in your mailbox over the next few weeks. In the new issue you can read about:

  • Austenland: we speak to Jerusha Hess about her new film depicting one woman’s amazing hunt for her Mr Darcy
  • Read our exclusive preview of this year’s Jane Austen Festival in Bath
  • The Countess of Jersey, serial adulteress and debauchee is this issue’s Regency Rogue
  • Letters from Jane: a look at Austen’s correspondence
  • Plump cheeks and thick ankles: Jane Austen used appearance to size up her characters
  • A social reformer and a place called Harmony: the tale of Robert Owen

Subscribe today to Jane Austen’s Regency World, the full-colour, must-read, glossy magazine for fans of the world’s favourite author – delivered to your doorstep every two months direct from Bath, England. Plus reports from…

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Jane Austen First Editions: How Much is Yours Worth?

Just in case you were interested to know how much your first editions of Jane Austen’s works were worth, this video featuring Adam Douglas, Senior Specialist in Early Literature at Peter Harrington, a rare book dealer in London, introduces a selection of Jane Austen’s first editions and explains how bindings affect value.

We just love how he handles the books. It’s like an aphrodisiac for an Austen fan as he sensually glides his hands over first editions of Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park and speaks in reverent and seductive tones! Adam, you are such a Willoughby!

Enjoy!

Laurel Ann

Preview & Giveaway of The Greville Family Saga: The Passing Bells, Circles of Time, and A Future Arrived, by Phillip Rock

The Passing Bells, by Philip Rock (1980)I love a good mystery. I just didn’t know that I would be so personally engaged in one for over thirty years.

In 1980 a read a book about an aristocratic English family during WWI that I absolutely adored. I was so enthusiastic about it that I promptly loaned it to my best friend who never thought of it again until about a year later when I asked for it back. She had no idea where my copy was. I was devastated. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to write down the title or author. I could only remember that bell was in the title.

Decades passed and the book never left my list of “to find titles.” When Internet search engines and online used book stores became available to me I searched again to no avail. Last month I was perusing the new release table at work and a book title caught my eye. The Passing Bells sounded vaguely familiar so I read the back description and checked the copyright date. “Originally published in 1978.” I stood and stared at the cover in stunned silence. I had found it again. It was a book miracle. After never giving up the search—we had been reunited—and, better yet, it was part of a trilogy! A red letter day all around for this book geek.

I immediately purchased a digital copy for my Nook and commenced reading. Would my endearing memory of the story of the Greville family entrenched in World War I stand up to my ideals so many years later? I was compelled to find out and share my conclusions with you all. I shall chuse to increase your suspense, “according to the usual practice of elegant females” by making you wait for my reviews of the trilogy before I reveal any insights, but here is a preview of each of the novels and a giveaway chance to win one copy of each of the novels compliments of TLC Book Tours and the trilogy’s new publisher William Morrow. Fans of the popular period drama Downton Abbey will see certain similarities and be as captivated as I was.

The Passing Bells, by Philip Rock (2012)The Passing Bells:

The guns of August are rumbling throughout Europe in the summer of 1914, but war has not yet touched Abingdon Pryory. Here, at the grand home of the Greville family, the parties, dances, and romances play on. Alexandra Greville embarks on her debutante season while brother Charles remains hopelessly in love with the beautiful, untitled Lydia Foxe, knowing that his father, the Earl of Stanmore, will never approve of the match. Downstairs the new servant, Ivy, struggles to adjust to the routines of the well-oiled household staff, as the arrival of American cousin Martin Rilke, a Chicago newspaperman, causes a stir.

But, ultimately, the Great War will not be denied, as what begins for the high-bred Grevilles as a glorious adventure soon takes its toll—shattering the household’s tranquillity, crumbling class barriers, and bringing its myriad horrors home.

Circles of Time, by Philip Rock (2012)Circles of Time:

A generation has been lost on the Western Front. The dead have been buried, a harsh peace forged, and the howl of shells replaced by the wail of saxophones as the Jazz Age begins. But ghosts linger—that long-ago golden summer of 1914 tugging at the memory of Martin Rilke and his British cousins, the Grevilles.

From the countess to the chauffeur, the inhabitants of Abingdon Pryory seek to forget the past and adjust their lives to a new era in which old values, social codes, and sexual mores have been irretrievably swept away. Martin Rilke throws himself into reporting, discovering unsettling political currents, as Fenton Wood-Lacy faces exile in faraway army outposts. Back at Abingdon, Charles Greville shows signs of recovery from shell shock and Alexandra is caught up in an unlikely romance. Circles of Time captures the age as these strongly drawn characters experience it, unfolding against England’s most gracious manor house, the steamy nightclubs of London’s Soho, and the despair of Germany caught in the nightmare of anarchy and inflation. Lives are renewed, new loves found, and a future of peace and happiness is glimpsed—for the moment.

A Future Arrived, by Philip Rock (2012)A Future Arrived:

The final installment of the saga of the Grevilles of Abingdon Pryory begins in the early 1930s, as the dizzy gaiety of the Jazz Age comes to a shattering end. What follows is a decade of change and uncertainty, as the younger generation, born during or just after the “war to end all wars,” comes of age.

American writer Martin Rilke has made his journalistic mark, earning worldwide fame with his radio broadcasts, and young Albert Thaxton seeks to follow in his footsteps as a foreign correspondent. Derek Ramsey, born only weeks after his father fell in France, and Colin Ross, a dashing Yankee, leave their schoolboy days behind and enter fighter pilot training as young men. The beautiful Wood-Lacy twins, Jennifer and Victoria, and their passionate younger sister, Kate, strive to forge independent paths, while learning to love—and to let go.

In their heady youth and bittersweet growth to adulthood, they are the future—but the shadows that touched the lives of the generation before are destined to reach out to their own.

Author bio:

Born in Hollywood, California, Phillip Rock lived in England with his family until the blitz of 1940. He spent his adult years in Los Angeles and published three novels before the Passing Bells series: Flickers, The Dead in Guanajuato, and The Extraordinary Seaman. He died in 2004.

A GRAND GIVEAWAY

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Passing Bells, Circles of Time, or A Future Arrived, by Phillip Rock by leaving a comment revealing what intrigues you about the series and why it is a must read for Downton Abbey fans. The contest ends on 11:59pm, Wednesday, January 30, 2013. Winners announced on Thursday, January 31, 2013. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only please. Good luck.

P.S. We are eternally grateful to the brilliant editor at William Morrow, who by choosing to re-issue this wonderful trilogy, solved my mystery book hunt of 30 years. Our only regret is that author Philip Rock is not with us still to enjoy the revival of his work.

© 2013, Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose  

Preview of Emma: An Annotated Edition, by Jane Austen, edited by Bharat Tandon & Giveaway!

Emma: An Annotated Edition, by Jane Austen and edited by Bharat Tandon (2012Holiday book giving is just around the corner, and top on my list to many of my Janeite friends will be Harvard University’s new annotated edition of Jane Austen’s Emma. It will be officially released tomorrow, so mark your calendars and wait for the fireworks.

I was agog over their two previous volumes, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, so when the next in their publishing quest to bring all of Jane Austen’s six major novels to us in sumptuously illustrated and enlightened editions arrived on my doorstep, I needed my aromatic vinegars to revive myself. Filled with hundreds of side notes and over 119 color illustrations, this new volume is the heavy weight of the set at four pounds and 576 pages. Wow!

The beautiful cover illustration is an inset from Sir James Dromgole Linton’s Waiting. If you think that the enticing folds of the opulent fabric of the lady’s frock is a herald of what awaits inside, then hold on to your bonnets. It gets even better. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

“Bharat Tandon’s edition of Emma is a delight to read, as pleasurable as it is thought provoking. He captures both the delights of Austen’s novel and the way that those delights are shadowed by the dark intimations.”  – Deidre Lynch, University of Toronto

Inside the World of Emma Woodhouse
Continue reading “Preview of Emma: An Annotated Edition, by Jane Austen, edited by Bharat Tandon & Giveaway!”

Preview of Scholarly Jane Austen in the Queue: Fall 2012

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Fall is in the air today in the Pacific Northwest. Parents are swarming into my Barnes & Noble with school reading lists for their darling children, fantasy football magazines are front and center in the newsstand, and the scholarly Jane Austen books are queuing up for those who crave a deeper look at their favorite author. Here is a list of my selections for Fall 2012 including the publisher’s descriptions:

Matters of Fact in Jane Austen, by Janine Barchas (2012)Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity, by Janine Barchas

In Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity, Janine Barchas makes the bold assertion that Jane Austen’s novels allude to actual high-profile politicians and contemporary celebrities as well as to famous historical figures and landed estates. Barchas is the first scholar to conduct extensive research into the names and locations in Austen’s fiction by taking full advantage of the explosion of archival materials now available online.

According to Barchas, Austen plays confidently with the tension between truth and invention that characterizes the realist novel. Of course, the argument that Austen deployed famous names presupposes an active celebrity culture during the Regency, a phenomenon recently accepted by scholars. The names Austen plucks from history for her protagonists (Dashwood, Wentworth, Woodhouse, Tilney, Fitzwilliam, and many more) were immensely famous in her day. She seems to bank upon this familiarity for interpretive effect, often upending associations with comic intent.

Barchas re-situates Austen’s work closer to the historical novels of her contemporary Sir Walter Scott and away from the domestic and biographical perspectives that until recently have dominated Austen studies. This forward-thinking and revealing investigation offers scholars and ardent fans of Jane Austen a wealth of historical facts, while shedding an interpretive light on a new aspect of the beloved writer’s work.

Janine Barchas is an associate professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin. She is the author of Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel.

Johns Hopkins University Press (September 13, 2012)
Hardcover (336) pages
ISBN: 978-1421406404

The Marriage of Faith Christianity in Jane Austen and William Wordsworth, by Laura Dabundo (2012)The Marriage of Faith: Christianity in Jane Austen and William Wordsworth, by Laura Dabundo

Near its heart, English Romanticism—across many writers—acknowledges and celebrates a community that is not just secular but that derives meaning from a religious association and, in fact, a particularly defined religion, that is, Anglican Christianity. William Wordsworth and Jane Austen, premier English Romantic poet and novelist, were baptized, confirmed, and buried (and for Wordsworth, married) in conformity with the Church of England. Of course, Wordsworth’s commitment flagged in his twenties, but with marriage and responsibility came respectability and parishioner status. However, most twentieth-century critics interpret these writers’ works outside the Christian realities with which their lives were much imbued, except for late Wordsworthian poems from his purported decline into conservative politics and religion and evident poetic senility. Jane Austen did not live long enough to have a late decline, but critics have nonetheless overlooked her faith. It is not necessarily the surface of her writing, but Christianity is unquestionably the sea out of which her characters arise, her plots bubble up, and her themes unfold. It was her and their reality. Notwithstanding this negative or blind critical precedent, Laura Dabundo highlights what most readers are conditioned to disregard, the ways in which the church saturates the writing of Wordsworth and Austen. The Church of England’s liturgy has traditionally been based on Scripture, which these writers would have known. This book, then, links their faith to their works.

Laura Dabundo is professor of English and coordinator of Religious Studies at Kennesaw State University. She is editor of The Encyclopedia of Romanticism: Culture in Britain, 1780–1830s and Jane Austen and Mary Shelley and Their Sisters: Romantic Women’s Fiction in Context and has written articles on many Romantic writers. Born in Philadelphia and educated in Pennsylvania, she teaches British Romanticism, the Gothic, the Bible as Literature, Mystery and Detective Fiction, and editing. Currently, she is studying Irish Romantic writers and their faith.

Mercer University Press (September 30, 2012)
Hardcover (152) pages
ISBN: 978-0881462821

Uses of Jane Austen's Afterlives, edited by Gillian Dow and Clare Hanson (2012)Uses of Austen: Jane’s Afterlives, edited by Gillian Dow and Clare Hanson

This collection of essays focuses on the ways in which the life and work of Jane Austen is being re-framed and re-imagined in 20th and 21st-century literature and culture. Tracing the connections between the construction of a Modernist Jane Austen in the early 20th century and feminist and post-feminist appropriations of her texts in the later 20th century, the essays in this volume also examine the ways in which Austen has more recently emerged as a complex point of reference on the global stage, her novels being adapted in settings ranging from Amritsar to California, her name being invoked in political discourse on internet sites and in the printed press as shorthand for English or more broadly Western liberal cultural values. The volume is distinctive in its international scope, and in its focus on Austen as a dynamic cultural signifier. Together, the essays explore the richness and complexity of the cultural encounters generated through re-inscriptions of an imagined ‘Jane Austen’, and ask what they can tell us about contemporary desires for cultural authority and authenticity.

Gillian Dow is Lecturer in English at the University of Southampton, UK, and Director of Research at Chawton House Library. She has published on French and British women’s writing of the Romantic period, on translation, on the reception of foreign literature in Britain, and on the cross-channel rise of the novel in the long eighteenth century. Clare Hanson is Professor of English at the University of Southampton, UK. She has published extensively on twentieth century women’s writing, is a founding member of the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association and co-editor of the journal Contemporary Women’s Writing. Her most recent books are A Cultural History of Pregnancy (2004) and Eugenics, Literature and Culture in Post-war Britain (2012).

Palgrave Macmillan (October 2, 2012)
Hardcover (256) pages
ISBN: 978-0230319462

Jane Austen's Manuscript Works, by Jane Austen, edited by Linda Bree, Peter Sabor and Janet Todd (2012)Jane Austen’s Manuscript Works (Broadview Editions), edited by Linda Bree, Peter Sabor and Janet Todd

When Jane Austen died, at the age of 41, she left behind not only her six novels but a large number of manuscripts, ranging from juvenile works to the novel that she was writing at the time of her final illness. The six published novels are now undisputed classics. The manuscripts, however, despite the brilliant writing they contain and the way in which they illuminate Jane Austen’s work as a novelist, are much less well known. From the brilliance of the juvenilia to the urbane modernity of “Sanditon,” these works show Austen pushing the conventional boundaries of fiction, exploring the implications of vulgarity and violence, experimenting with different styles and tones, practicing and refining her arts of narrative, and adding a whole new dimension to her own comment about her writing as a “little bit (two inches wide) of Ivory, on which I work with so fine a Brush, as produces little effect after much labour.”

Linda Bree is Editorial Director, Arts and Literature at the Cambridge University Press and the editor of the Broadview Edition of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Peter Sabor is Professor of English and Canada Research Chair in Eighteenth Century Studies at McGill University, and the editor of the Broadview Edition of Sarah Fielding’s The History of Ophelia. Janet Todd is President of Lucy Cavendish College at the University of Cambridge and the editor of the Broadview Edition of Charlotte Smith’s Desmond.

Broadview Press (November 30, 2012)
Paperback (350) pages
ISBN: 978-1554810581

Enjoy!

Laurel Ann

© Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Fifty Shades of Mr. Darcy

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E L James (2012)If you have not been on another planet for the last six months, then you know about Fifty Shades of Grey, by E L James. It’s the first novel in an erotic romance trilogy that has been on the best seller list since April and flying off the shelves at my Barnes & Noble. It is estimated that the series has sold over 20 million copies. The movie rights have sold too! That is a lot of cold hard cash for its debut author, who until she wrote the series as fanfiction to the popular Twilight series, rewrote it and self-published, then sold the rights to Random House, was an unknown entity in the publishing world. To have a grand slam home run at your first time at bat. What are the odds? A bazillion to one?  Wild!

Popularly tagged mommy porn, or mummy porn if you live on the other side of the pond, I first heard about the series when I read a review by a fellow Austenprose writer Kimberly Denny-Ryder on her blog Reflections of a Book Addict. Kim is an ardent Austenesque reader and I value her opinion implicitly. I was duly intrigued. Follow this link to read her review of the Fifty Shades Trilogy on her blog. I think you will find it honest and amusing.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen and Amy Armstrong (2012)

With the astounding success of the Fifty Shades series, it was only a matter of time before other publishers jumped on the erotic bandwagon. But, imagine my surprise when I read this online article in the Daily Mail: Reader, I ravished him: Classics given a steamy Fifty Shades of Grey makeover that would make Jane Austen and the Brontes blush. It appears that a UK publisher thinks that there is a market for erotically enhanced classics:

Devotees of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters may wish to loosen their corsets and have the smelling salts within reach.

Some of the greatest works of English literature have been controversially ‘sexed up’ for the 21st century.

Following the success of erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, one enterprising publisher has given classics such as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights a bawdy makeover.

The existing texts have been interspersed with more racy scenes – some in toe-curling language that would surely have made the original authors blush.

Toe-curling language. Hm?

 Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, by Linda Berdoll (2004)This description sounds like they are following the format of the recent bestselling mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that added bone-crunching zombie action into Jane Austen’s classic text. Now it is hot romantic scenes K-Y’d in. This is new? No way. Many Austenesque authors have been doing this for years. Linda Berdoll took us behind the green baize curtain in 1999 with her spicy sequel to Pride and Prejudice, The Bar Sinister (later republished in 2004 by Sourcebooks as Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife); Abigail Reynolds has re-imagined Pride and Prejudice from many perspectives, historical and contemporary, adding amorous scenes to her popular Pemberley Variations series (eight novels with the ninth, Mr. Darcy’s Refuge next) and Woods Hole Quartet series; and Sharon Lathan’s bestselling Darcy Saga, which follows the married life of Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Darcy and his wife Elizabeth (seven novels with the eighth, The Passions of Mr. Darcy next). Even though these three authors enhance and expand Mr. Darcy’s romantic life, they are PG-13 and tastefully tame in comparison to the two 2011 publications, Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts, by Mitzi Szereto and Pride and Prejudice: The Wild and Wanton Edition by Michelle Pillow, which really break into the R for decidedly racy category.

JJ Feild as  Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey (2008)

In addition to a sexed up Pride and Prejudice, the Clandestine Classics series by Total E-Bound will offer Austen fans an erotic version of Northanger Abbey! The underdog of Austen’s oeuvre, Northanger is not as widely read as Austen’s golden child P&P, or the scholar favorite Emma, but I adore it because of its exuberant young heroine Catherine Morland and witty and urbane hero Nonparallel, Henry Tilney. Since Catherine is only seventeen in the novel, one wonders out loud if she will be left as is, or??? The wicked side of me is a bit curious to see what they will do with my fav of Austen’s heroes Henry Tilney. Yes, he even surpasses Mr. Darcy in my esteem dear readers. *sigh*

There are always mixed opinions about adding sex to Austen. Claire Siemaszkiewicz, founder of Total-E-Bound, offered her buz-bite on her series and attempted to forestall the fallout in the article in the Daily Mail:

“Readers will finally be able to read what the books could have been like if erotic romance had been acceptable in that day and age.

We recognise it’s a bold move that may have a polarising effect on readers but we’re keeping the works as close to the original classics as possible.”

Polarising effect? That’s an understatement!

*chortle*

Now Austen must amend her famous line from Mansfield Park to:

“Let other pens dwell on guilt, misery and S&M.”

I am very curious what readers think of sex in their Austen? What is acceptable and what crosses the line of decorum?

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2012 Laurel Ann, Austenprose

Excerpt & Giveaway Chance for Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures, by Claudia L. Johnson

Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures, by Claudia L. Johnson (2012)On May 18th the highly anticipated new book, Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures, by the eminent Jane Austen scholar, Dr. Claudia Johnson, releases from The University of Chicago Press. Described as an “insightful look at how and why readers have cherished one of our most beloved authors” Johnson delves into the history of Austen’s enthusiasts through the centuries.

We have been very fortunate to be given a sneak preview of the book before publication by the author and a generous opportunity to win one of three copies being offered by her publisher.  To qualify just leave a comment. The giveaway details are listed after the excerpt. Here is Dr. Johnson’s brief introduction and the excerpt she selected for us:

The following excerpt is from Chapter 2, “Jane Austen’s Magic,” which discusses versions of Victorian Janeism that link Austen with enchantment, indeed even with the fairy world that is full of magic despite its apparently humdrum appearance.

Foremost among the “pretty” volumes [Henry] James probably had in mind when he acidly described them as “what is called tasteful” is Constance Hill’s 1902 Jane Austen: Her Homes and Her Friends. This volume is by no means the first published effort to recover Jane Austen by visiting the places and recollecting the people associated with her; but it is the most sustained (the book is 268 pages long), and the most elaborate (Hill and her sister undertake their journeys with well-thumbed copies of Austen’s novels, Brabourne’s edition of the Letters and J.E. Austen-Leigh’s Memoir in hand).  It was also the most influential.  In his “authoritative” editions of Austen’s novels, R.W. Chapman cribs this book when footnoting the actual places visited by Austen’s characters.   Hill’s Preface begins by citing the altogether banal observation that “works of genius” are marked by “something intangible” that is “felt” but that eludes words:  “This ‘intangible something’ —  this undefinable charm – is felt,” she writes, “by all Jane Austen’s admirers.”  Generally we encounter such platitudes about Austen’s genius – which make up a large part of Victorian commentary on Austen – without attending closely.  If we listen carefully, however, something remarkable emerges.  Austen’s “undefinable charm,” she continues, has exercised a sway of ever-increasing power over the writer and illustrator of these pages; constraining them to follow the author to all the places where she dwelt  and inspiring them with a determination to find out all that could be known of her life and its surroundings. (v)

In Hill’s hands the word genius starts to dance across semantic boundaries, sometimes denoting the modern sense of talent or intellectual endowment, and other times reverting to the earlier sense of a tutelary spirit attached to a place; and the word charm is similarly charged, surpassing its bland sense as attraction, and moving towards something stronger, like spell.  Only this could account for the delightful but nevertheless palpable sense of supra-voluntary compulsion: under the “increasing power” of Austen’s “charm” the writer is “constrained” to follow Austen’s footsteps.  Veering momentarily into the language of Christianity borrowed by literary tourism throughout the nineteenth century (one recollects the prominent example of Byron), Hill  tells us that her book will take us on a “pilgrimage,” but only, as it turns out, to observe a crucial difference from other literary tourists.  Following “in the footprints of a favourite writer would, alas! in many cases lead to a sad disenchantment”(v).  Hill’s book promises, by contrast, an enchantment that will never disappoint or diminish: “We would now request our readers,” she writes, in “imagination, to put back the finger of Time for more than a hundred years and to step with us into Miss Austen’s presence,” a presence which is special.  Our journey is, to be sure, an act of friendship, for to know Jane Austen, as we have seen, is to desire to be her friend.  As it is so often the case throughout this little volume, we also cross boundaries into the noumenal: Jane Austen is no ordinary friend, and the purpose is not simply to get to become acquainted with her in any ordinary sense, rather it is to “‘hold communion sweet’” with her “mind and heart” (viii).  What is this enchanted place located at the intersection of space and time, a place from a bygone era, yet accessible today and still somehow permeated by the traces of Austen’s presence?   The title of the first chapter provides the answer: “An Arrival in Austen-land.”

Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures (FIG 002.001)

(FIG 002.001)

In an 1885 review of Brabourne’s edition of Austen’s Letters Thomas Kebbel describes his own pilgrimage to Austenian sites in Hampshire, and he laments that “Miss Austen’s country” is so little known.[i]  “Miss Austen’s country” has a different valence from “Austen-land.”  I take Hill’s unblushingly fanciful chapter title – and its accompanying illustration (FIG 002.001), guiding us towards a magical place – as an allusion to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  The wonders Hill’s volume goes on to narrate are – like everything about Austen – infinitely less egregious than Charles Dodgson’s to be sure, but paradoxically they may also be more powerful for being so because, however palpable, most of the important ones aren’t, strictly speaking, visibly there at all, and this invisibility is in marked contrast to so many author-pilgrimages of the earlier nineteenth century.[ii]  Unlike heritage-constructing books of roughly the same period, such as W. Jerome Harrison’s Shakespeare-Land (1907) and Ward and Ward’s Shakespeare’s Town and Times (1896) or James Leon Williams’s The Homes and Haunts of Shakespeare (1892), which, as John Taylor has shown, use photographs both to show literary tourists what traces to look for and just as importantly to testify to the reality/authenticity of those sites, Hill’s volume relies mostly on drawings of Austenian places executed by Hill’s sister, even though photography was available.[iii]

Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures (FIG 002.002)

(FIG 002.002)

When Hill and her sister arrive at the village of Steventon, they cannot find the rectory where Austen was born (it had been torn down in the 1820s by Austen’s brother Edward who, oblivious of its hallowed status as Austen’s birthplace, built a better house there for his son’s use).  With the marvelous appearance of an aged informant related to servants in the Austen household, they locate “a pump in the middle o’ the field” which “stood i’ the washhouse at the back o’ the parsonage” (Hill, 8).  Though “barely noticed before,” the pump [see FIG 002.002] “become[s] interesting now as the only visible relic of the Austen’s home” (Hill, 10).  As the sketch indicates, the view of the pump clearly lacks the patent if somewhat shabby materiality that countless photographs imparted to, say, Ann Hathaway’s cottage, and the site and sight of the pump would look even more absurd as a photograph.  Its primary purpose, after all, is to represent the absence of the Steventon rectory.  As a result, the burden of wondrous vision is placed on the visitant – as when Ellen Hill is drawing the pump, and Constance, gazing upon the blank space,  muses “I can now picture to myself the exact spot where the parsonage stood, and can fancy the carriage drive approaching it . . .  I can even fancy the house itself…” (Hill, 10-11). In cases where Austenian remnants are actually extant, they are not always bewitching and, in the nineteenth century, made no part of the pilgrimage.  Chawton Cottage, to take the most conspicuous example, is an authentic and extant Austenian home, but it was so far from charming that J.E. Austen-Leigh not only declines to represent it in his Memoir, but he also actively discourages “any admirer of Jane Austen to undertake a pilgrimage to the spot,” because it has now been “divided into tenements for labourers” and “reverted to ordinary uses.” (Memoir, 69).  A comparison between Ellen Hill’s partial, highly idealized sketch and a contemporary 1910 photograph of Chawton Cottage demonstrates just how much imaginative work is required from the visitor bent on Austenian enchantment when confronted with such refractorily unlovely but actual material.

***

[i] Thomas Edward Kebbel, “Jane Austen at Home,” Fortnightly Review 43 (1885), 270. [262-70]

[ii] I am much indebted to Deidre Lynch, “Homes and Haunts: Austen’s and Mitford’s English Idylls,”  PMLA 115, no. 5 (October, 2000),  1103-1108; the essays in Nicola Watson, ed., Literary Tourism and Nineteenth-Century Culture, (Houndmills: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2009),  Harald Henrix, ed., Writers’ Houses and the Making of Memory (New York: Routledge, 2008) and Nicola Watson, The Literary Tourist: Readers and Places in Romantic & Victorian Britain (Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2006).

[iii] See Chapter 2 (“Shakespeare Land”) of John Taylor, A Dream of England: Landscape, Photography and the Tourist’s Imagination (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994), 64-89.

Author Claudia L. Johnson (2012)Author Bio:

Claudia L. Johnson is the Murray Professor of English Literature and Chair of the English Department at Princeton University. She specializes in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century literature, with a particular emphasis on the novel. In addition to eighteenth-century survey courses, she teaches courses about prose style,  gothic fiction, sentimentalism, the emergence of nationalism, film adaptations of fiction, Samuel Johnson, and, of course, Jane Austen. Her books include Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel (Chicago, 1988), Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender and Sentimentality in the 1790s (Chicago, 1995), and The Cambridge Companion to Mary Wollstonecraft (Cambridge, 2002), with Clara Tuite The Blackwell Companion to Jane Austen (2005).  She has also prepared with editions of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (Norton, 1998), Sense and Sensibility (Norton, 2002), and Northanger Abbey (Oxford, 2003).  At present she is writing a book on novel studies tentatively entitled, Raising the Novel. She enjoys singing and gazing out the window, though not necessarily at the same time.

Detail of the cover of Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures, by Claudia L. Johnson (2012)

Detail of the cover design of Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures

Giveaway chance for Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures, by Claudia L. Johnson

Enter a chance to win one of three copies available of Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures by leaving a comment by 11:59 pm PT, Wednesday, May 23, 2012, stating why you are a member of the cult of Jane. Winners will be chosen at random and announced on Thursday, May 24, 2012. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures, by Claudia L. Johnson
The University of Chicago Press (2012)
Hardcover (240) pages
ISBN: 978-0226402031

Reprinted with permission from Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures, by Claudia L. Johnson, published by The University of Chicago Press.

© 2012 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

All Around the World with Jane Contest

All Around the World with Jane banner 2012

In celebration of the release of All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey with Jane, by Amy Elizabeth Smith in June, publisher Sourcebooks is offering a contest with great prizes!

It’s easy to qualify. Just take a picture of yourself with the Flat Stanley image that you can download and print out and submit your pictures on the All Around the World with Jane Facebook page or email your submission to landmark@sourcebookspr.com.  Here are the details from the publisher:

In the June memoir, All Roads Lead to Austen the author Amy Elizabeth Smith took Jane Austen’s works along with her as she traveled to foreign countries. Her goal was to see if the magic of Jane Austen could hold its power across borders, languages and cultures.

Amy took Jane to far off countries – and we need your help to take her even further! We are holding a contest called All Around the World with Jane! Join us on our Austen love fest by printing out our Jane Austen “flat Stanley.” Take pictures of yourself with Jane in your hometown or on your vacation, and submit it from April 30th – June 3oth!All Around the World with Jane 2012

We will award the following prizes to the individuals with the most creative picture:

Grand Prize Winner will receive:

  • An E-reader with all of our available Austen sequels/continuations downloaded on to it
  • A signed copy of All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith
  • A Skype session with Amy Elizabeth Smith

Second Place Winner will receive:

  • A signed copy of All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith
  • A choice of 5 Jane Austen sequels/continuations from Sourcebooks

Third Place Winners will receive:

  • A signed copy of All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith

Below is an example of where Jane has been already from The Jane Austen Centre in Bath! along with the flat Stanley that you can print off (also available on the Facebook page).

All Around the World with Jane in Bath, England

Barnes & Noble will be offering All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey with Jane in NOOK format as an early exclusive and will be offering the eBook at $6.99 starting Monday April 30th for a limited time!

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Enter a Giveaway Chance to Win a Complete Set of Penguin Hardcover Classics by Jane Austen

Penguin Hardcover Classics: Jane Austen

UPDATE 04/26/12:

Since the Penguin sweepstakes has closed as of April 24, 2012, they have generously offered Austenprose readers a chance to win a signed copy by the designer Coralie Bickford-Smith of the Penguin Hardcover Classics edition of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey! Just leave a comment  voicing your opinion on if their was a hero throw down between Henry Tilney from Northanger or Captain Wentworth from Persuasion, who would win, and why, or if you have not read either of the novels yet, what you would like to know about them from the Janeites on this blog by 11:59 PT, Wednesday, May 09, 2012. Winner announced on Thursday, May 10, 2012. Shipment of print copies to US addresses only. Good luck!

Happy dance in the book world today. With the release of Coralie Bickford-Smith’s new cover designs of Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey, all six of Jane Austen’s major novels are now complete for the Penguin Hardcover Classics set.

Since Pride and Prejudice, the first book in series was introduced in 2009, book designer Bickford Smith has completed over 20 new covers of classic novels. Beside Austen, the series includes books by authors Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Elliot, William Shakespeare, Wilkie Collins, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell and others. The covers are inspired by the style of design from the early twentieth-century with motifs indicative of the stories in the novels. The three new Austen titles released today include designs of a chain on the front for Mansfield Park, a feather for Persuasion and a skeleton key for Northanger Abbey.  I can guess all of the associations to the stories. Can you?

Penguin Hardcover Classics: Jane Austen

Penguin Hardcover Classics is offering a generous chance to win the complete Jane Austen set. Just click on this link and it will take you to the Penguin Group Facebook sweepstakes. Good luck to all! (The Penguin sweepstakes has ended, but your comment here still qualifies you for the giveaway of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.)

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Georgette Heyer Birthday Bash Celebration with Laura Wallace & Sourcebooks!

Georgette HeyerQueue the paper streamers and party hats – today, Tuesday August 16th, is Georgette Heyer’s 109th birthday! We are celebrating the Queen of Regency Romance in style with a great guest blog from our resident Heyer enthusiast Laura Wallace and a ton of fabulous giveaways from Sourcebooks. So put on your best party frock and dancing slippers and let the merriment begin!

Welcome Laura:

When I was about twelve years old, I received a mysterious box for Christmas from one of my aunts.  It was an ordinary flat shirt box, but it was heavy.  I opened it to find a rather tattered collection of paperback books.  The spines were broken, the pages dog-eared, the covers occasionally torn, and the pictures on the covers were of rather dreadful-looking females in high-waisted dresses in atrocious colors with ´60s hairstyles.

With many years´ hindsight looking back, I was not, perhaps, quite as enthusiastic as I ought to have been.  But I wasn´t at all disappointed.  I was a great reader, and while I hadn´t yet discovered Jane Austen, I had discovered Victoria Holt and similar gothic novels (in the quaint, mid-20th century sense of the word) which would today probably be marketed as young adult fiction.  So I was not at all daunted by this large box of what appeared to be historical fiction.  This was, it turned out, my aunt´s well-loved Georgette Heyer collection, which she was passing along to me.  I don´t remember what she said.  I don´t remember which novel I read first, or how long it took me to get around to it.  I don´t remember much about them, except that once, a few years later, I went searching through my Heyer books looking for the one about Catherine Morland, who was duped by that jerk John Thorpe who drove off with her when she had promised to take a walk with her friend Miss Tilney and her brother, and hurt their feelings.  I never did find it, until I read all of Austen´s novels (some of them for the first time) many years later when I made the acquaintance of Colin Firth´s Mr. Darcy.  But by the time I graduated from high school, I was devoted to Georgette Heyer.

I still have all those old paperbacks, which are now truly falling apart.  I never passed them along to my own niece because she was uninterested.  (She eventually returned most of the ones I tried to give to her, including Heyer, Austen, and Holt-I guess I impressed on her too much how precious they were to me.)  A few of them are still on my shelf as my only copy of that particular novel, though most have been replaced.  The rest are in a protective box.

Later, on something called BITNET, I discovered both Austen-L and the Georgette Heyer Mailing List, the latter of which was run by Eileen Kendall.  There I found like-minded readers who loved these authors and whose discussions of their books enriched my enjoyment and appreciation of them.  Although I love many other authors, I have never found any to equal their elegance of prose, gentle manners, and exquisite settings.  Both Austen and Heyer literally changed the way I feel about words and about literature, and even about the world.  Reading them makes me want to write novels.  (I am still attempting to do so.)  Reading them makes me study history and even genealogy.  Reading them makes me collect books about Regency England and much of the preceding and following centuries. It makes me spend hours studying in academic libraries, and sometimes makes me wish I´d majored in history, or gone back to school for a Ph.D. in history.  It makes want to write biographies of Regency-era people as well as novels.  It certainly was the genesis for my website on the British system of noble titles.

Reading Austen and Heyer led even to my falling in love with the portraiture of Sir Thomas Lawrence, which I collect avidly in electronic images, books, and prints, and to the study of other portrait artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and to the study of costume.  It placed Beethoven and Mozart in a particular context and enriches my enjoyment of both playing and listening to them, as well as seeking out other composers of the era (and I was a music major, so I didn´t exactly lack context for them).

I could go on, but I think you get the picture!

So, to celebrate Georgette Heyer´s birthday, I give thanks for her life and for her work, which gives me so much pleasure so frequently, and impacts my own world almost every day.  I know there are others like me among her legions of fans who value her work for all the reasons she herself valued it:  for the meticulous research, the exquisite language, the wit and humour, the memorable characters, and the wonderful world she created that we can go back to again and again, always certain to find something beautifully wrought and something that is new.  And most of all, perhaps, always certain to find pleasure and inspiration.  Happy Birthday, Miss Heyer!

Laura A. Wallace, is a musician, attorney, and writer living in Southeast Texas.  She is a devotee of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer and is the author of British Titles of Nobility:  An Introduction and Primer to the Peerage (1998).

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Heyer Laura. We all have our own personal Georgette Heyer stories, or you should have if you have not discovered this great author yet.

Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one of the three Heyer ‘Novel Packs’ that have been generously donated by Sourcebooks. Share your favorite Georgette Heyer story with us such as: Who recommended her to you? What was the first novel you read? Which novel is your favorite? Who is the most swoon worthy hero?  To qualify, leave a comment by midnight PT, Wednesday August 24th. Winners to be announced on Thursday, August 25th. Shipment to the US and Canada only. Good luck to all.

Heyer Pack #1

  • Bath Tangle
  • The Reluctant Widow
  • The Grand Sophy
  • Regency Buck
  • The Convenient Marriage

Heyer Pack #2

  • The Black Moth
  • The Masqueraders
  • False Colours
  • Black Sheep
  • Lady of Quality

Heyer Pack #3

  • Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle
  • Charity Girl
  • Cousin Kate
  • The Foundling
  • The Talisman Ring  

Remember – in celebration of Georgette Heyer’s birthday, Sourcebooks is also offering all 46 of the Heyer’s books that they publish in eBook format for $1.99 from August 15-August 21 ONLY.

Stock up. These great prices may never happen again.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laura A. Wallace, Austenprose

Preview and Excerpt of Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile, by Lev Raphael

Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile, by Lev Raphael (2011)I am continually amazed by how writers are inspired by Jane Austen’s characters from Pride and Prejudice. There are so many retellings and “what if’s,” recounting and elaborating on the relationship of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, our favorite romantic couple, that it makes my head swim — but — this may be a first! Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile, by Lev Raphael has just been release in eBook. It is a literary mash-up of our favorite novel with an interesting twist! Here is the publisher’s description and an excerpt for your enjoyment.

Get ready for Pride and Prejudice with brisket! Lizzy Bennet’s an Anglo-Jew with a Jewish mother, some Jewish attitude, and lots to say about Mr. Darcy, who has some serious attitude problems of his own when it comes to “Hebrews.” When these two proud people meet, is it still love at first…slight? Will prejudice keep them from bridging the gap between Jew and Gentile? Austen’s beloved novel gains new layers of comedy and drama in this ingenious mash-up.

“Hilarious and charming, genuinely delightful. An audacious reinterpretation of the divine Miss A which has one laughing out loud from the first page.” —Lauren Henderson, author of Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating

“Lev Raphael’s version of Pride and Prejudice develops a whole new dimension and Austen’s plot neatly accommodates the Jewish elements in this mash-up hand-made by a maven.” —Rachel Brownstein, author of Why Jane Austen?

“With a sly wit and deft hand, Raphael infiltrates the world of Austen’s most popular novel and plays a game of What If? that simultaneously creates something fresh and reveals anew the genius of the original prose. Never have the human foibles of pride and prejudice been exposed in such a delightful way.” —Michael Thomas Ford, author of Jane Bites Back

Excerpt

It is a truth universally acknowledged, not least by a Jewish mother, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”

Mr. Bennet replied that he had not heard.

“But it is,” returned  she; “for Mrs. Long  has just been here, and she told me all about it.”

Mr. Bennet made no answer but a sigh.

“Do you not want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently, for Mrs. Bennet (née Goldsmid) was a yenteh.

Mr. Bennet shrugged with all the energy his aged shoulders could muster.  “You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”

This was invitation enough.

“Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week.”

“What is his name?”

“Bingley.”

“Is this Bingley married or single?”

“Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year.  What a fine thing for our girls!”

“How so?  How can it affect them?”

“My dear Mr. Bennet,” replied his wife, “how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them.”

“Is that his design in settling here?”

“Design! Nonsense,  how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them.”

“Indeed?  Is he known to have a fondness for daughters of Israel?”

“Mr. Bennett!  How could you!  One should not ask such questions. We do not live in the Dark Ages.”

“But we live in Hertfordshire, and the differences are not altogether marked ones.”

“Never you mind, you must visit him as soon as he comes.”  Mrs. Bennet had long despaired of Jewish husbands for her girls,  given their rural situation, and seeing each girl settled with any man of means whatsoever was her deepest desire.

“I see no occasion for such a visit. You and the girls may go, or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be still better, for as you are as handsome as any of them, Mr. Bingley may like you the best of the party.”  Mr. Bennet enjoyed kibbitzing, not least because his wife seemed ever oblivious to his meaning.

Mr. Bennet, whose grandfather was a Ben-David from Amsterdam, was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character.  He was oil to his wife’s water.

Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting, news, and kugel.

Author Bio:

Lev Raphael is a former academic, radio talk show host, and newspaper columnist who’s published twenty books in genres from memoir to mystery with publishers like Doubleday, St. Martin’s, Faber and Walker.  His fiction and creative nonfiction appears in dozens of anthologies In the US and in Great Britain, and he has taught in colleges and universities around the country.

A world traveler and lecturer, his next adventure will be his second German book tour for his memoir My Germany this fall, sponsored by the American Consulate in Frankfurt, and will also be reading from his novel Rosedale in Love at the Edith Wharton in Florence conference next June (Austen and Wharton were major influences in his career). Visit Lev at his website Lev Raphael, on Twitter as @LevRaphael, and on Facebook as Lev Raphael.

Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile, by Lev Raphael
eBook: Kindle & Nook

© 2007 – 2011 Lev Raphael, Austenprose

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