Sanditon, by Jane Austen (Hesperus Press): A Review

On the 27th January, 1817 Jane Austen began work on a novel that is now known as Sanditon. It was never completed. Her declining health robbed her of what she dearly loved most, writing, and on the 18th of March 1817 after penning 22,000 words she wrote the last lines of chapter twelve and put down her pen. Four months later at age 41 she would succumb to what is generally believed to have been Addison’s disease. 

Set in the emerging seaside village of Sanditon on the Sussex coast we are introduced to a large cast of characters dominated by the two minions of the community: Mr. Parker a local landowner with grand designs of turning a fishing village into a fashionable watering place offering the therapeutic or curative benefits of sea-bathing and his partner Lady Denham, the local great lady who has “a shrewd eye & self satisfying air” and cares little about the community and only her pocketbook.

The story unfolds from the perspective of Charlotte Heywood, a young lady experiencing her first trip away from her family as a guest of Mr. and Mrs. Parker. Sanditon is populated by a comical ensemble of residents and visitors who upon Charlotte’s first acquaintance are altogether different than they later appear. Lady Denham’s nephew Sir Edward Denham is handsome, amiable and titled but is prone to long inflated speeches in the most pompous and affected style in an attempt to reinforce his own notion that he is a romantic character born to seduce women “quite in the line of Lovelaces.”  (Lovelace refers to the villain Robert Lovelace in Samuel Richardson’s 1748 novel Clarissa who rapes and ruins the young heroine.) He has designs upon Lady Denham’s companion Clara Brereton who he shall either woo with affection or carry off. Clara is a poor relation of Lady Denham’s who is maneuvering to be her heir and in direct competition with Sir Edward for her favor.

Also sharing the spotlight is Mr. Parker and his four siblings, three of whom Charlotte is told are sad invalids, but after their arrival talk a great deal about their maladies but exhibit little consequence of their afflictions. Here we see Austen at her comedic height characterizing the foibles of those who attach illness as an identity and hypochondria as their religion. The one bright light of hope in the novel is Mr. Parker’s brother Sidney who we know of only through letters and others descriptions. He may be the only character besides Charlotte who has the potential to set things in balance with his sense of humor and honest opinions. Sadly he is destined to remain the mystery hero of Austen’s oeuvre. Add to that a lineup a nest of plot ironies to raise an eyebrow at business speculation and hypochondria, and a sharp jab at the effluvia of novels and poetry and you have a narrative that whizzes along until an abrupt halt just when we are hooked.  

The uncompleted novel is a great loss to literature but also to the characters who after a bright and comical beginning are left with uncertain futures. What does remain is more than a novelty of Austenalia. Sanditon’s levity despite the author’s failing health when it was written is quite remarkable. On first reading I thought it quite energetic and satirical, similar to the burlesque humor of Austen’s Northanger Abbey. I then put it aside and did not reflect on it further. My second reading after several years brought an entirely new reaction. Austen has taken a new and fresh direction from her usual three or four families in a country village and sets her novel not about an individuals struggle but an entire community. Money is still the fuel that powers the plot, but her physical descriptions of the landscape and town are entirely new in her cannon foreshadowing what may have been an evolution in her style. Sanditon is a gem that no Austen enthusiast should miss.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Sandition, by Jane Austen, foreword by Prof. A. C. Graying
Hesperus Press, London (2009)
Trade paperback (85) pages
ISBN: 978-1843911845

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Day 6 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Sanditon, by Jane Austen (Hesperus Press) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Sanditon, or who your favorite character is by midnight PDT Friday, March 26th, 2010. Winners to be announced on Saturday, March 27th. Shipment worldwide, but it might have trouble reaching Antarctica.

On an aside. For any of you that are curious about the backside of a chicken staring at us on the cover, the Hesperus Press publicist offers this revealing insight. “Regarding the cover design for this title – our designers try to avoid clichés and so don’t always go for literal covers, thinking laterally instead. The tone of the image and its colour range suit the book well, and chickens and eggs are often taken as symbols of new life, which links to Sanditon’s plot, being about a new town.”

Upcoming event posts

Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Continuations

Day 8 – March 22 Event Wrap-up

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By the Seaside with Sanditon: Sir Edward Denham’s Sentimental Stirrings about the Sea & Seduction

He began, in a tone of great taste and feeling, to talk of the sea and the sea shore; and ran with energy through all the usual phrases employed in praise of their sublimity and descriptive of the undescribable emotions they excite in the mind of sensibility. The terrific grandeur of the ocean in a storm, its glass surface in a calm, its gulls and its samphire and the deep fathoms of its abysses, its quick vicissitudes, its direful deceptions, its mariners tempting it in sunshine and overwhelmed by the sudden tempest — all were eagerly and fluently touched; rather commonplace perhaps, but doing very well from the lips of a handsome Sir Edward, and she could not but think him a man of feeling, till he began to stagger her by the number of his quotations and the bewilderment of some of his sentences. Sanditon, Chapter 7

Jane Austen’s anti-hero in Sanditon, Sir Edward Denham, Baronet of Denham Park is a bit of rake and a rattle. He is prone to long inflated speeches in the most pompous and affected style all in an attempt to reinforce his own notion that he is a romantic character born to seduce women “quite in the line of Lovelaces.” Lovelace refers to the villain Robert Lovelace in Samuel Richardson’s 1748 novel Clarissa who rapes and ruins the young heroine. With Sir Edward, Austen is poking fun at the dramatic and sentimental heroes and villains of the novels of her times.  

During his speech to Charlotte Heywood, he rambles on about the sea describing in quite unoriginal phrases its “terrific grandeur” of glass surface, gulls and samphire. When I originally read the novel years ago, I had no idea what samphire was, what significance it had and why Jane Austen used as and example of describing the sea. Understanding the cultural context of Austen’s novels can be so enlightening and I asked Julie of Austenonly, a fellow Austen enthusiast and expert on the era to explain it all for me. She has graciously obliged and you can read her excellent post on samphire at her blog.

In addition to his rattling’s about the sea we are treated to his lengthy effusions on poets as he incorrectly attributes Scott to have written about the sea, which Charlotte quickly corrects him on.

“Do you remember”, said he, “Scott’s beautiful Lines on the Sea? — Oh! what a description they convey! — They are never out of my Thoughts when I walk here. — That Man who can read them unmoved must have the nerves of an Assassin! — Heaven defend me from meeting such a Man un-armed.”  

“What description do you mean?”, said Charlotte. “I remember none at this moment, of the Sea, in either of Scott’s Poems.”

“Do not you indeed? — Nor can I exactly recall the beginning at this moment.”  Ch 6

This blunder does not deter him in the least and he continues quoting other poets: Burns, Montgomery and Campbell. Our observant heroine is having none of it and calls him out again.

“I have read several of Burns’ Poems with great delight”, said Charlotte, as soon as she had time to speak, “but I am not poetic enough to separate a Man’s Poetry entirely from his Character; — & poor Burns’s known Irregularities greatly interrupt my enjoyment of his Lines. — I have difficulty in depending on the Truth of his Feelings as a Lover. I have not faith in the sincerity of the affections of a Man of his Description. He felt & he wrote & he forgot.” Ch 8

One wonders if Charlotte has learned that Sir Edward’s “known irregularities greatly interrupt” her enjoyment of his speech? She has difficulty believing the truth of Burns’ poetry because of his personal life. A man’s actions reflect upon his reputation and character. I love the parallel between what she describes as Burns’ faults, “He felt & he wrote & he forgot” with Sir Edward’s want of being a seducer, who we well know are all about the conquest and not the results or consequences!

More on the insincere and insalubrious Sir Edward Denham as he expounds upon “The mere Trash of the common Circulating Library” when ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’ continues this week.

Upcoming event posts

Day 4 – March 18 Group read Chapters 5-8
Day 5 – March 19 Regency seaside fashions
Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions

On the Trail of Sanditon: The History of the Manuscript

“She continued to work at it as long as she could work at all.” James Edward Austen-Leigh (1871) 

On the 27th January, 1817 Jane Austen began work on a novel that is now known as Sanditon. It was never completed. She was gravely ill, and after a brief period of remission, her condition worsened until “her mind could no longer pursue its accustomed course” 1 and on the 18th of March 1817 after penning 22,000 words she wrote the last lines of chapter twelve and put down her pen. Exactly four months after abandoning the novel she would succumb to what is generally believed to have been Addison’s disease. She was 41 years old.

Upon her death, all of Jane Austen’s papers, manuscripts and future royalties were bequeathed to her elder sister Cassandra Austen. The Sanditon fragment was among them. With her brother Henry’s help, Cassandra would publish Jane’s last two novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion posthumously in late 1817. The balance of her letters and manuscripts remained in Cassandra’s possession at their last home together in Chawton, Hampshire. On the 9th of May 1843, Cassandra Austen then age 70 wrote her will and named her younger brother Charles Austen as residuary legatee and executor. On the same day she wrote to him itemizing the bequests of personal belonging she wished him to distribute to the family.

“As I have leisure, I am looking over and destroying some of my papers – others I have marked ‘to be burned’, whilst some will still remain. These are chiefly a few letters and a few manuscripts of our dear Jane, which I have set apart for those parties to whom I think they will be most valuable. …I have marked the contents of one of the small Drawers of one of my Bureaux for Anna.” 2

Cassandra died two years later in 1845 and Jane Austen’s legacy to her sister was dispersed among immediate family members. This amounted to what we now group together as her Minor Works primarily comprising: the 3 volumes of Juvenilia, the fragment of The Watsons, the novella Lady Susan, the cancelled chapters of Persuasion and the unfinished Sanditon. The last two items were passed to Anna Lefroy (1793- 1872), Jane and Cassandra’s niece and daughter of their eldest brother James. As young child Anna had lived with her aunts after her mother’s death in 1795 until her father remarried. She remained a favorite relation of both Jane and Cassandra. In 1814 Anna married neighbor Benjamin Lefroy, one of the sons of Jane’s dear friend Mrs. Anne Lefroy of Ashe, (Tom Lefroy’s aunt).

In 1871, the fragment was first made known to the public in her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh’s biography of his aunt Jane Austen: A Memoir. Described only as the ‘Last Work’ it included experts of the text and a bit of family lore about the manuscript.

‘The chief part of this manuscript is written in her usual firm and neat hand, but some of the latter pages seem to have been first traced in pencil, probably when she was too weak to sit long at her desk, and written over in ink afterwards. The quality produced does not indicate any decline of power or industry, for in those seven weeks twelve chapters had been completed. It is more difficult to judge of the quality of a work so little advanced. It had received no name; there was scarcely any indication what the course of the story was to be, nor was any heroine yet perceptible, who, like Fanny Price, or Anne Elliot, might draw round her the sympathies of the readers. Such an unfinished fragment cannot be presented to the public.’ James Edward Austen-Leigh 3

According to family tradition, Jane intended to call her novel ‘The Brothers’ presumably after brothers Thomas, Sidney and Arthur Parker in her story. Interestingly, Jane Austen’s favorite poet George Crabbe also used this title for one of his own stories in his book Crabbe’s Tales. Her family chose instead to name it Sanditon when it was published in 1925 by R. W. Chapman. 4 If ‘The Brothers’ had been used it would have been Austen’s second reference to her favored poet in one of her novels. Fanny Price, the heroine of Mansfield Park also has among her small group of books the same volume on her table in her attic room.

There was a bit of an Austen family kerfuffle over what they all deemed worthy of print from the remaining letters, fragments and juvenilia. Anna Lefroy was obviously not among the dissenters who opposed publication and allowed the excerpts of the manuscript of Sanditon in her possession to be included in Jane Austen: A Memoir. She must have had an open mind to ‘publish and be damned’ since she had her own aspirations to be a novelist, attempting to complete Sandition herself. Ironically, she did not finish her version either.

Upon Anna Lefroy’s death in 1872 the Sanditon manuscript remained in the Lefroy family for two more generations. In 1925 when R.W. Chapman researched the manuscript and transcribed the first full copy for publication, it was owned by Mary Isabella Lefroy (1860-1939), grand-daughter of Anna. In 1930 she presented it to King’s College, Cambridge, in memory of her sister Florence Emma Austen-Leigh (1857-1926) and the latter’s husband Augustus Austen-Leigh (1840-1905), Provost of King’s from 1889 until his death. 5 (It appears that the Lefroy and Austen’s intermarried quite frequently)

The manuscript of Sanditon has remained in safekeeping with Cambridge University for eighty years and has been exhibited only twice, most notably during the bicentenary exhibition honoring Jane Austen’s birth in 1975 at the British Library. There is also a copy of Sanditon transcribed by Cassandra Austen for her brother Frank that is owned by the Jane Austen Memorial Trust, at Jane Austen’s House, Chawton and displayed at Chawton House Library.

First page of the Sanditon manuscript

Now, go visit Cambridge University Janeites to gaze upon Jane’s “usual firm and neat hand”  in her last manuscript. 

“One other hill brings us to Sanditon — modern Sanditon — a beautiful spot.”  Ch 4

1.) Austen-Leigh, James Edward, A Memoir of Jane Austen, pg 151
2.) Le Faye, Deirdre, Jane Austen: A Family Record, pg 243
3.) James Edward Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen, pg 170-71
4.) Le Faye, Deirdre, Jane Austen: A Family Record, pg 254
5.) Gilson, David, A Bibliography of Jane Austen, pg 376-77

Upcoming event posts 

Day 4 – March 18 Group read Chapters 5-8
Day 5 – March 19 Regency seaside fashions
Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions

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By the Seaside with Sanditon: Guest Blog with Julie of Austenonly on Regency-era Seaside Resorts

Joining us today to extend the Sanditon celebration across the Internet is a very special guest, Julie the very affable and talented blog mistress of Austenonly. Her expertise in Georgian and Regency era culture and history is astonishing. Her extensive library of resource books would make even Mr. Darcy envious. To tie into to our ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’ event this week, she will be blogging about the development of Regency-era seaside resorts similar to what our Mr. Parker and Lady Denham are attempting to create at Sanditon. Enjoy! 

Jane Austen’s unfinished fragment, Sanditon, is set in a small Sussex seaside resort, a place that is being ruthlessly and relentlessly “improved” by Mr Parker, a man obsessed with his creation and the money-making opportunities it affords: 

Mr. Parker`s character and history were soon unfolded. All that he understood of himself, he readily told, for he was very openhearted; and where he might be himself in the dark, his conversation was still giving information to such of the Heywoods as could observe. By such he was perceived to be an enthusiast — on the subject of Sanditon, a complete enthusiast. Sanditon, the success of Sanditon as a small, fashionable bathing place, was the object for which he seemed to live. A very few years ago, it had been a quiet village of no pretensions; but some natural advantages in its position and some accidental circumstances having suggested to himself and the other principal landholder the probability of its becoming a profitable speculation, they had engaged in it, and planned and built, and praised and puffed, and raised it to something of young renown; and Mr. Parker could now think of very little besides…  Sanditon, Chapter 2 

Sanditon is also under the patronage of Lady Denham, the wealthy widow of Mr Hollis and a baronet, a social climber though marriage and a woman rather in the mould of  Lady Catherine de Bourgh of Pride and Prejudice,. Here she is described by Mr Parker: 

“There is at times,” said he, “a little self-importance — but it is not offensive — and there are moments, there are points, when her love of money is carried greatly too far. But she is a good-natured woman, a very good-natured woman — a very obliging, friendly neighbour; a cheerful, independent, valuable character — and her faults may be entirely imputed to her want of education. She has good natural sense, but quite uncultivated. She has a fine active mind as well as a fine healthy frame for a woman of seventy, and enters into the improvement of Sanditon with a spirit truly admirable. Though now and then, a littleness will appear. She cannot look forward quite as I would have her and takes alarm at a trifling present expense without considering what returns it will make her in a year or two. That is, we think differently. We now and then see things differently, Miss Heywood. Those who tell their own story, you know, must be listened to with caution. When you see us in contact, you will judge for yourself.” Lady Denham was indeed a great lady beyond the common wants of society, for she had many thousands a year to bequeath, and three distinct sets of people to be courted by: her own relations, who might very reasonably wish for her original thirty thousand pounds among them; the legal heirs of Mr. Hollis, who must hope to be more indebted to her sense of justice than he had allowed them to be to his… Sanditon, Chapter 3 

In this satire on developing seaside resorts, commercial greed, hypochondria and the type of people these place attracted, it is perhaps no mere coincidence that Jane Austen ensures that Mr Holllis, the first husband of Lady Denham, shares the name of the man who began the development of Lyme Regis from small fishing village to a seaside resort. 

Lyme Regis from A Guide to all the Watering and
Sea-Bathing  Places etc (1803) by John Feltham

Thomas Hollis (1720-1774) was an interesting character. He was a political propagandist and a radical but also a supporter of the house of Hanover. He was a benefactor, amongst other institutions, of Harvard University and owned an estate of 3000 acres at Corscombe near Beauminster. He kept, however, a suite of rooms in the Three Cups Hotel at Lyme and bought up much of the slums and derelict property in Lyme in order to demolish them and improve the town. He created the first public promenade by purchasing land on the shore to create what Jane Austen would have referred to as The Walk ( it is now part of Marine Parade). He knocked down a series of warehouses to clear a site for the building of Lyme’s Assembly Rooms complex and these were completed in 1775 just after Hollis’s death. These are the Rooms that Jane Austen visited in 1804. 

Continue to full post 

Upcoming event posts

Day 4 – March 18 Group Read Chapters 5-8
Day 5 – March 19 Regency seaside fashions
Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions

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Elizabeth Gaskell & Jane Austen: Comparisons are Inevitable

A comparison (of Elizabeth Gaskell) to Jane Austen for its combination of humor and moral judgment in the observation of character and conduct is often made, not unjustly, though Mrs. Gaskell’s canvas is larger than Austen’s bit of ivory.” Edgar Wright

Victorian-era author Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) has been said to have a “wit to challenge Jane Austen’s, a conscience of social struggle unrivalled by Dickens, and charm and values to enrapture George Eliot’s fans.” This is high praise indeed to be mentioned with such exalted literary company, and we are fortune that several of her novels have been recently adapted into movies by the BBC/WGBH: Wives and Daughter (1999), North and South (2004) Cranford (2007) and now Return to Cranford (2009), which will be presented on Masterpiece Classic on the next two Sundays (January 10th & 17th) on PBS. You can read a preview of the series here.

Like Jane Austen, Mrs. Gaskell wrote six major novels, her last novel Wives and Daughters was published posthumously in 1865. Her characters are so engaging and finely drawn that comparisons Continue reading “Elizabeth Gaskell & Jane Austen: Comparisons are Inevitable”

Sanditon, Austen’s last unfinished work is haute at LibraryThing

This was a happy discovery indeed. LibraryThing lists the most requested new title among their December 2009 Early Reviewers choices as Sanditon, Austen’s last and unfinished novel!

Early Reviewers is a service for LibraryThing members who want to receive free advance copies of books in exchange for a review on their blog. To date, this new Hesperus Press edition of Sanditon has garnered 1356 requests (including mine), even beating out the next new Jane Austen paranormal novel Jane Bites Back at 998. 

Sanditon, the last of Austen’s fictional works, was written from January to March 1817 only four months before her death and was first published in 1925 by Oxford University’s Clarendon Press. It is classified as one of her unfinished novels and is usually combined with her other minor works such as The Watsons and Lady Susan. The original manuscript was bequeathed to Anna Austen Lefroy (Jane Austen’s niece) by her aunt Cassandra Austen in 1845 and remained in the Lefroy family until 1930 when it was presented as a gift by Mary Isabella Lefroy (Anna Austen Lefroy’s grand-daughter) to King’s College, Cambridge where the manuscript resides today. 

Other authors have attempted to finish the story with varying degrees of success including Anna Austen Lefroy (1793-1872). Ironically her continuation is also unfinished. Another by Juliette Shapiro is the most satisfying but in another strange twist does not include Jane Austen’s original text. This new edition by Hesperus Press is unabridged with a foreword by A. C. Grayling a Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. 

Publisher’s description: Charlotte Heywood is privileged to accompany Mr and Mrs Parker to their home in Sanditon – not least because, they assure her, it is soon to become the fashionable epicentre of society summers. Finding the town all but deserted, she is party to the machinations of her socially mobile hosts in their attempts to gather a respectable crowd. As Sanditon fills with visitors, Austen assembles a classic cast of characters possessing varying degrees of absurdity and sense. 

Well … who’da thought that it would draw so much interest? 

I am tickled that so many of my fellow LibraryThing book geeks want to read Sanditon, but am quite puzzled by Hesperus Press’ choice of cover art. Is that a chicken’s arse waving at us? I don’t understand the connection. No chickens, hens or fowl mentioned in Sanditon that I can find. At least the wallpaper looks Regency-ish. Geesh!

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Austen at Large: Vote for your Favorite Pride and Prejudice Bachelor

The bachelors of Pride and Prejudice

In thinking about Pride and Prejudice for the last couple of weeks, my mind has naturally wondered to the men in this novel, the single men particularly. As a young woman of 20, it is a subject that my mind often turns to. There are more young single men in this novel than any other that I can think of, and some of the best and worst. The men that jump to my mind as the bachelors of Pride and Prejudice are George Wickham, William Collins, Charles Bingley, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Fitzwilliam Darcy and the gang of militia officers that Lydia and Kitty run after. All these men offer the girls in the novel different things. Some offer love, some security, and the very best ones offer both. These 5 different men, I think, show a lot about relationships.

Rupert Friend as George Wickham, Pride & Prejudice (2005)Lt. George Wickham (son of Mr. Darcy’s stewart) is the dashing young man who flatters Elizabeth’s vanity by choosing to pay her attention. Elizabeth is not only flattered by him but she is also manipulated into believing his back story of his life and his history with Darcy. Wickham is dashing, smart and clever yet he has no fortune and does not have a steady work history (though he blames others for this). Wickham is probably the best looking bachelor and uses this to his advantage in the women that he tries to win. He is definitely a player as well in the novel, we see him or hear about him with many women including Georgiana, Elizabeth, Miss King and Lydia. This is not a very good track record for someone yet he still manages to get girls. Wickham is the dashing young officer that every girl dreams of and every mother loves until they find out his true colors.

David Bamber as Rev. Mr. Colins, Pride and Prejudice (1995)Rev. Mr. William Collins (Rector of Hunsford in Kent) thinks he is a big fish in a little pond. He comes to Longbourn for the purpose of choosing a wife. He is not a romantic though he offers his wife security. When he finds out that Jane is almost off the market he simply moves down the line to Lizzy, thus showing just how unromantic he is. (I have always wondered if Bingley was not in the picture if Jane would have married Collins or if Mrs. Bennet would have at least tried to get them together?). Mr. Collins is a buffoon to say the very least of his character. I think he is more in love with Lady Catherine than he is with Charlotte. In my class of 20 year old college students it was of course brought up that there was a “young olive branch” coming to the Collins family. And as my teacher point out, “there is only one way to get an olive branch!”. Life with Mr. Collins might not be grand but if a woman wanted to get out of her parents house it might he might seem like a good catch.

Simon Woods as Charles Bingley, Pride & Prejudice (2005)Mr. Charles Bingley (age 22, heir to £100,000)  is an interesting bachelor because he is so important yet we hear so little of him except through other people. After all he is introduced in the first page of the novel yet we rarely get a conversation with Bingley and his love Jane. I have always wondered what they were talking about at all those dinner parties and dances. Bingley is the “nice guy” though he is a little too easily lead by others I feel like. Bingley is wonderful guy who is rich and yet willing to love Jane and see past her family flaws and her lack of money. Bingley also stays in love with Jane when he is in London and separated. He is a wonderful bachelor but is perhaps there is still something lacking in Bingley, a strong spirit or a passion perhaps. It is hard to pinpoint though because he just seems so nice and caring.

Anthony Calf as Colonel Fitzwilliam, Pride and Prejudice (1995)Colonel Fitzwilliam (younger son of an Earl & cousin of Mr. Darcy) is one of my favorite bachelors. He is charming, an officer (so he is in a red coat) and gentlemanly. He makes good conversation and comes from a good family. Colonel Fitswilliams only down fall is that he is a second son so that he cannot marry merely for love but also for money. I have always thought that he is one of my favorite guys in the novel just because of the openness he has with Elizabeth and how conversational and charming he is. He does not always bring good news to be sure, but he can openly talk with her which I think is important. Though he has good family connections and visits Rosing it does not seem to taint his understanding of the world or his pride or vanity. He is a complete gentleman, if only he was a first son! Plus he is in a red coat, and those look soo good!

David Rintoul as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice (1980)Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (age 28, of Pemberley in Derbyshire with £10,000 a year) is the hero of the novel and what a man he is! He is smart, clever yet perhaps a little shy when it comes to meeting new people. He is proud but comes from a good family and has a good upbringing. He is a loving brother and his servants speak very highly of him. He is also giving and forgiving which is very important especially with Elizabeth. One of my favorite aspects of Darcy is that he changes in the end and sees how he was wrong before. At the beginning of the novel he is proud and arrogant but by the end he is more understanding and has changed for the better. Mr. Darcy is also able to keep up with Elizabeth in their banter back and forth with not only shows his wit but also his spirit though it seems a little suppressed she draws it out of him. Mr. Darcy as the hero of the novel is an amazing bachelor and we kind of wonder why he has not married before now (it is of course because he has not met Elizabeth yet!)

David Bark-Jones as Lt. Denny, Pride and Prejudice (1995)Colonel Forster & Co (the _shire Militia) The officers of the militia are Kitty and Lydia’s dream bachelors and we can see why. They are young, fun and wear dashing red coats. Yet they lack the maturity is similar to the girls that are chasing them. If I had to equate them to guys today I would say that they were frat boys who were interested in having a good time but who were not interested in settling down.

So gentle readers, who would you vote for? I think I might have to go for Colonel Fitzwilliam myself because I love red coats and yet I would want someone with a little more substance and conversation than just a normal officer. Bingley is too nice for me and though Darcy is wonderful, I would be happy to settle for his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Until Next week,

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

Emma: Mr. Knightley’s Proposal – Marriage or Merger?

Illustration by Willian C. Cooke, Emma, J. M. Dent & Co (1892)“And now, let me talk to you of something else. I have another person’s interest at present so much at heart, that I cannot think any longer about Frank Churchill. Ever since I left you this morning, Emma, my mind has been hard at work on one subject.”  

The subject followed; it was in plain, unaffected, gentleman-like English such as Mr. Knightley used even to the woman he was in love with, how to be able to ask her to marry him, without attacking the happiness of her father. Emma’s answer was ready at the first word. “While her dear father lived, any change of condition must be impossible for her. She could never quit him.” Part only of this answer, however, was admitted. The impossibility of her quitting her father, Mr. Knightley felt as strongly as herself; but the inadmissibility of any other change, he could not agree to. He had been thinking it over most deeply, most intently; he had at first hoped to induce Mr. Woodhouse to remove with her to Donwell; he had wanted to believe it feasible, but his knowledge of Mr. Woodhouse would not suffer him to deceive himself long; and now he confessed his persuasion, that such a transplantation would be a risk of her father’s comfort, perhaps even of his life, which must not be hazarded. Mr. Woodhouse taken from Hartfield! No, he felt that it ought not to be attempted. But the plan which had arisen on the sacrifice of this, he trusted his dearest Emma would not find in any respect objectionable; it was, that he should be received at Hartfield; that so long as her father’s happiness — in other words his life — required Hartfield to continue her home, it should be his likewise.  

Of their all removing to Donwell, Emma had already had her own passing thoughts. Like him, she had tried the scheme and rejected it; but such an alternative as this had not occurred to her. She was sensible of all the affection it evinced. She felt that, in quitting Donwell, he must be sacrificing a great deal of independence of hours and habits; that in living constantly with her father, and in no house of his own, there would be much, very much, to be borne with. She promised to think of it, and advised him to think of it more; but he was fully convinced, that no reflection could alter his wishes or his opinion on the subject. He had given it, he could assure her, very long and calm consideration; he had been walking away from William Larkins the whole morning, to have his thoughts to himself. Mr. Knightley & Emma Woodhouse, Chapter 51 

I have always been disappointed in Mr. Knightley’s marriage proposal to our heroine Emma Woodhouse. If you are not paying close attention, you might miss it altogether! No long speech declaring his esteem, admiration and love. No “will you be mine dearest, loveliest Emma?” No ardent realization that they are destined to be together. No jubilant acceptance by her. Nothing! And Emma is also at fault. She is as much about the business transaction as Knightley, concerned more about her father’s reaction and comforts, Mr. Knightley’s estate manager Mr. Larkins being inconvenienced by Mr. Knightey’s absence if they should live at Hartfield, and finally Harriet’s reaction to the news. This is more business merger negotiations than the final romantic reward for the build up by Jane Austen over the last 448 pages of the novel. For me, it is the biggest weakness in the plot to an otherwise brilliant story. If Austen had given us a romantic and moving marriage proposal, Emma might be more favorably accepted. I know that sounds shallow, but there your have it from this hopeless romantic.     

* Illustration by William C. Cooke, “Mr. Knightley’s proposal”, Emma, The Novels of Jane Austen, J. M. Dent & Co, London (1892)

flourish 5

Mansfield Park Chapters 1-8: Summation, Musings & Discussion: Day 2 Give-away

Illustration by H.M. Brock, Mansfield Park Ch 2 (1898)

THE NOVEL

Do not let us be frightened from a good deed by a trifle. Give a girl an education, and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without farther expense to anybody.” Mrs. Norris, Chapter 1

Quick Synopsis

Ten year old poor relation Fanny Price arrives at Mansfield Park and meets her cousins the Bertrams. Spoiled sisters Maria and Julia think her ignorant and stupid. Sad and sacred, her only friend is cousin Edmund who helps her write a letter to brother William. Five years pass. Sir Thomas Bertram and eldest son Tom leave for Antigua. Maria and Julia husband hunt with Aunt Norris. Fanny left out. Maria engaged to Mr. Rushworth. Mary and Henry Crawford arrive and meet their neighbors. Maria and Julia keen on Henry. Mary keen on Tom. Fanny and Edmund think Mary indecorous. Mary’s harp arrives, bewitching Edmund who falls in love with Mary. All the young people travel to Mr. Rushworth’s estate of Sotherton.   

Musings 

Jane Austen sets the tone of the novel immediately with Mrs. Norris’ passive-aggressive surly voice. It is effectively comical and annoying at the same time. She seems to run the Bertram family while her sister lounges on the sofa with her dog pug. I loved this description of Lady Bertram. 

To the education of her daughters Lady Bertram paid not the smallest attention. She had not time for such cares. She was a woman who spent her days in sitting, nicely dressed, on a sofa, doing some long piece of needlework, of little use and no beauty, thinking more of her pug than her children, but very indulgent to the latter when it did not put herself to inconvenience, guided in everything important by Sir Thomas, and in smaller concerns by her sister. The Narrator, Chapter 4 

I think that Austen is introducing a theme here of negligent parenting with possibilities for great material. Lady Bertram’s two spoiled and snarky daughters Maria and Julia are certainly the evidence of it. Their brother Tom the eldest son seems to be also ungovernable by their father Sir Thomas, gambling and drinking with little regret. Only second son Edmund seems to have his head on straight, though I fear he has over compensated for his lax upbringing and taken the high road too firmly with his moralizing and starchy attitudes. With an outlook like this, one can only imagine his frustration in living in a household of such cretins and understand his desire to be a minister to save unruly souls. 

When we are introduced to newcomers to the neighborhood siblings Mary and Henry Crawford, I was amazed at how well their cutting remarks and superior attitude fit in with the Bertram clan. It is no wonder that the introductions go so well. I was amused that their sister Mrs. Grant immediately suggests possible mates for her single brother and sister. Shades of an Emma Woodhouse; – who may only be a gleam in Austen’s eye while writing this. Their discussion on marriage in chapters four and five is a great introduction to their personalities, and sets the stage for future romantic machinations. Here are two favorite quotes by Henry and Mary that really reveal what is coming. 

“I am of a cautious temper, and unwilling to risk my happiness in a hurry. Nobody can think more highly of the matrimonial state than myself I consider the blessing of a wife as most justly described in those discreet lines of the poet-‘Heaven’s last best gift.'” Henry Crawford, Chapter 4 

Of course, he is being totally sarcastic and poking fun at marriage and women after his sister Mary derides his past performance with ladies to their sister Mrs. Grant. 

“In marriage…there is not one in a hundred of either sex who is not taken in when they marry. Look where I will, I see that it is so; and I feel that it must be so, when I consider that it is, of all transactions, the one in which people expect most from others, and are least honest themselves.” Mary Crawford, Chapter 5 

Mary Crawford is much more frank about it. Like Elizabeth Bennet she decidedly expresses her opinions, but unlike Jane Austen’s other strong female character from Pride and Prejudice she does so without much censure and is often moralistically off center. I like that dangerous laissez-faire, wildly over confident quality about her. She definitely gets the sharp witty dialogue that Austen is so famous for. It is like watching a train wreck and makes for a great story. 

But what of our heroine Fanny Price? At this point she has had little to say or do. Cleverly, I think that is Austen’s point. Being the poor relation and a charity case in a resplendent household is a tenuous position. We see her pitiful situation, how terribly she is treated by her cousins, and feel her pain. It is uncomfortable and we are angered by it. The over-eager reader may miss the subtly of her character and not understand why she is in the background so much. It is a bit perplexing but I am confident that Austen has her reasons that will unfold as the plot develops. 

Questions 

  1. Why is Mrs. Norris not given a first name? Is this a telescopic insight by Jane Austen by way of a slight?
  2. Fanny Price does not act like Jane Austen’s other heroines. Nor does Mary Crawford. Is Austen being ambiguous?
  3. Why do you think that Austen has set up such a caustic cast of characters? What are the benefits and downfalls to this approach? 

Further reading 

Online text complements of Molland’s Circulating Library
Cast of characters
Chapter 1-8 summary
Chapter 1-8 quotes and quips

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 2 Give-away

Leave a comment by August 30th. to qualify for the free drawing on August 31st. for one copy of

The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Volume III: Mansfield Park

Oxford University Press, USA (1988). Third edition. This hardcover volume has been the preferred edition by many since its publication in 1923. It includes an unabridged novel text and extensive supplemental material. Nice compact, but could use a make-over!

Upcoming posts
Day 3 – Aug 17            MP 1983 movie discussion
Day 4 – Aug 18            MP Naxos (Juliet Stevenson) audio
Day 5 – Aug 19            MP novel discussion chapters 9-16
Day 6 – Aug 20            Metropolitan movie discussion

Mansfield Park Madness Introduction: Day 1 Give-away

WELCOME

Depend upon it, you see but half. You see the evil, but you do not see the consolation. There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere.” Mrs. Grant, Mansfield Park Chapter 5  

Recently when a good friend who knows I blog about Jane Austen asked my opinion of Mansfield Park – I hesitated – dug deep – and honestly answered, not much! She was shocked. So was I!   

 Up until that point, much of what I knew about Jane Austen’s reputably most complex and mysterious novel I learned during a speed read for a college lit course, sideways chatter and postings on the MP board at The Republic of Pemberley and watching two movie adaptations; the 1999 Patricia Rozema adventure when it was released in the theaters, and the recent BBC 2007 adaptation presented by Masterpiece Classic this past January.  Embarrassingly, not much of a foundation for an Austen enthusiast, and after contrite reflection, I knew that I had not honestly given Mansfield Park a fair shake, and needed to. 

So gentle readers, here it is, all laid out at your feet (or more literally in pixels on your computer screens) over the next seventeen days, my personal journey into Mansfield Park Madness, along with 17 days of great free item give-aways. Enjoy! 

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Mansfield Park Madness: DAY 1 Give-away

Leave a comment by August 30th. to qualify for the free drawing on August 31st. for one copy of

Oxford World’s Classics Edition of Mansfield Park 

Oxford University Press (2008). The new revised edition includes a full unabridged text, an introduction by Jane Stabler and loads of great supplemental material. A nice compact medium sized edition with informative and helpful appendixes, notes, bio and chronology on the author. 

Mansfield Park Madness IconUpcoming posts
Day 2 – Aug 16:     MP novel discussion chapters 1-8
Day 3 – Aug 17:     MP 1983 movie review and discussion
Day 4 – Aug 18:     MP Naxos Audiobooks (Juliet Stevenson) 
Day 5 – Aug 19:     MP novel discussion chapters 9-16
 

Mansfield Park Madness: 17 Days of Great Give-aways!

The Free Stuff 

Austenprose is happy to announce the 17 great days of give-aways being offered during Mansfield Park Madness. To qualify for any and all of the following prizes, please leave a comment in the corresponding post(s) for the day that the prize is announced (a real comment not just a spam-ment) between August 15-30, 2008 and your name will be entered in the drawing for that prize. Multiple comments increase your chances to win. It is also possible to win multiple prizes. US residents only. Winners will be drawn and announced on August 31st, 2008. A big thank you goes out to the generous vendors who contributed the prizes to make Mansfield Park Madness fun, exciting and rewarding!  

Here is a list of the prizes to be offered and the dates they will be posted. 

Books

Mansfield Park, Oxford World's Classics (2008)

Mansfield Park: Oxford World’s Classics (Aug 15 & 25)

Oxford University Press (2008). Revised edition. Unabridged novel text. Introduction and notes by Jane Stabler with great supplemental material to enhance the text. Trade paperback, 418 pages, ISBN 978-0199535538

Oxford Illustrated Mansfield Park (1998)

The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Volume III: Mansfield Park (Aug 16) 

Oxford University Press, USA (1988). Third edition. Unabridged novel text and extensive supplementary material. Hardcover, 584 pages, ISBN 978-0192547033 

Mansfield Park, Penguin (2003)

Mansfield Park: Penguin Classics (Aug 21)

Penguin Classics (2003). Revised edition. Unabridged novel text. Re-instated introduction by Tony Tanner. Trade paperback, 480 pages, ISBN 978-0141439808 

The Jane Austen Miscellany (2006)

The Jane Austen Miscellany (Aug 22) 

By Leslie Bolton, Sourcebooks, Inc. (2006). The ultimate guide of everything Jane Austen for those who just can’t get enough! Hardcover, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1402206856 

Mansfield Park, Barnes & Noble Classics (2005)

Mansfield Park: Barnes & Noble Classics (Aug 23)

Barnes & Noble (2005). Revised edition. Unabridged novel text. Introduction and notes by Amanda Claybaugh. Hardcover, 427 pages, ISBN 978-1593083564 

Mansfield Park, Broadview Press (2001)

Mansfield Park: Broadview Literary Texts Series (Aug 28)

Broadview Press (2001). Unabridged novel text. Introduction and notes by June Sturrock with extensive supplemental material including criticism to enhance the text. Trade paperback, 528 pages, ISBN 978-1551110981 

Mansfield Park, Norton Critical Edition (1998)

Mansfield Park: Norton Critical Edition (Aug 30)

W.W. Norton & Co, Inc. (1998). Unabridged novel text. Extensive supplemental material including critisms and historical information edited by Claudia L. Johnson. Trade paperback, 544 pages, ISBN 978-0393967913           

Sequels

Edmund Bertram's Diary (2008)

Edmund Bertram’s Diary, by Amanda Grange (Aug 29)

Berkely Trade (2008). A re-telling of the novel Mansfield Park from the perspective of hero Edmund Bertram in which no sermonizing or over moralizing is revealed! Trade paperback, 344 pages, ISBN 978-0425223796 

Mansfield Park Revisited (2008)

Mansfield Park Revisited: A Jane Austen Entertainment, by Joan Aiken (Aug 29)

Sourcebooks Landmark (2008). Reprint. Sequel to the novel Mansfield Park in which Fanny’s sister Susan’s story is told. Trade paperback, 208 pages, ISBN 978-1402212895 

The Matters at Mansfield (2008)

Matters at Mansfield: Or, The Crawford Affair, by Carrie Bebris (Aug 29)

Part of the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries Series where the Pride and Prejudice’s characters go sleuthing in this decetive mystery spinoff. Hardcover, 288 page, ISBN 978-0765318473 

Central Park (2005)

Central Park: An Austen Series Book 3, by Debra White Smith (Aug 29)

The Dale Group, Rev. (2007). Contemporary re-telling of the novel Mansfield Park set in New York. Hardcover, 543 pages, ISBN  978-0786295678

Movies

Mansfield Park Movie (1983)

Mansfield Park 1983 (Aug 17)

BBC 6 part mini-series, adapted by Ken Taylor and directed by David Giles. 520 minutes. Staring Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny Price, Nicholas Farrle as Edmund Bertram and Anna Massey as Aunt Norris.  

Mansfield Park Movie (1999)

Mansfield Park 1999 (Aug 24)

Major motion picture written and directed by Patricia Rozema. 112 minutes. Staring Frances O’Connor as Fanny Price, Jonny Lee Miller as Edmund Bertram and Embeth Davidtz as Mary Crawford. 

Mansfield Park Movie (2007)

Mansfield Park 2007 (Aug 27)

ITV & WGBH production adapted by Maggie Wadley and directed by Ian MacDonald. 92 minutes. Staring Billie Piper as Fanny Price, Blake Ritson as Edmund Bertram and Hayley Atwell as Mary Crawford. 

Metropolitian Movie (1990)

Metropolitan 1990 (Aug 20)

Independent major motion picture written and directed by Whit Stillman. 98 minutes. Staring Carolyn Farina as Audrey Rouget, Taylor Nichols as Charlie Black and Chris Eigeman as Nick Smith. 

Ephemera

Jane Austen Journal (2007)

Jane Austen Journal, by Potter Style (Aug 19)

Paperback lined journal with the image of Regency lady and quote “We have a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” 160 pages, ISBN 978-0307352392

Jane Austen Address Book (2007)

Jane Austen Address book, by Potter Style (Aug 26)

Paperback, with alphabetical tabs. Image of Regency lady and Jane Austen portrait on the front. 120 pages, ISBN: 978-0307352385 

Audio 

Mansfield Park Audio Book (2007)

Mansfield Park: The Complete Classics Series Audio Book (Aug 18)

Naxos AudioBooks (2007). A brilliant reading by the acclaimed British actress Juliet Stevenson. Unabridged 17 CD’s, ISBN: 978-9626344675, abridged 3 CD’s ISBN: 978-9626340677

    

FREE JANE AUSTEN AUDIO SAMPLER

Available to all participants of Mansfield Park Madness. Just leave a comment between August 15-30, 2008 and e-mail your physical address to Austenprose at Verizon dot net before September 1, 2008 and you will receive one copy of the following sampler by mail. US residents only.

Jane Austen Naxos AudioBooks Sampler, read by various artists 

Naxos AudioBooks, Ltd. (2008). A lively sample reading of the Biography of Jane Austen by Elizabeth Jenkins, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and an interview with actress Juliet Stevenson.  1 CD, 75 minuets. 

Good luck to all, and enjoy your Austen items! 

Upcoming posts! 
Day 2 – Aug 16            MP novel discussion chapters 1-8
Day 3 – Aug 17            MP 1983 movie review and discussion
Day 4 – Aug 18            MP Naxos (Juliet Stevenson) audio
Day 5 – Aug 19            MP novel discussion chapters 9-16

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