Sunday, 28 September 2008

Jane Austen Quote- Week Twenty-Three

Many people criticised Becoming Jane for creating a story which represented the real life of Jane Austen, yet used constant reference to her novels; either through dialogue or real characters which were purported to be the foundations for the later fictional characters from her novels. This allowed people to propose that the film makers were suggesting that Jane was not as 'creative' as her true followers believe her to be.

I did not feel this way atall. I think that the film makers allowed a wider audience to be introduced to the world of Jane Austen which includes her novels. Many non-literary followers still know the story of Pride and Prejudice and by including some quotes from the novel in the film dialogue, it allowed links to be noticed by the audience and consequently, I believe, more enjoyment to be felt.

Furthermore, the other ladies on this blog and I have had many discussions about the fact that there MUST have been elements of Jane's personal life and experiences depicted in her novels. It is only natural. She writes with such awareness and this would not be possible unless she had been subjected to similar environments and circumstances in her real life.

Anyway, enough waffling. The quote I have chosen this week is a quote from the wonderful novel Northanger Abbey but was also included in the film Becoming Jane.

In the novel, it appears at the end of Chapter 5 when Jane uses the description of the friendship between Catherine and Isabella to declare her strong views on the use and respect of the 'novel' in everyday life. I think it is a clear representation of Jane at her best.

In the film, Jane uses this quote in a clever verbal attack towards Tom Lefroy when they meet in Selbourne Wood and he manages to deliver the common misconception of what was believed to be just a novel.

"Only a novel"... in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language."

I hope you enjoy.

Pic 1: Jane Austen from Wikimedia Commons

Pic 2: BBC website

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Jane Austen & 'Sophia Sentiment' by Mariana

Posted by Mariana, first part of the article is taken from the Addicted to Jane Austen blogspot:

Wedensday, 11 June 2008

Jane Austen & "Sophia Sentiment"

On the posthumous publication of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, Jane’s favourite brother Henry Austen described her physical appearance thus: “It might with truth be said, that her eloquent blood spoke through her modest cheek.” As Marghanita Laski points out, this is an incredibly pompous-sounding tribute - until we realise that these same words, originally from the poet John Donne, are quoted by Henry Fielding in Tom Jones to describe Sophia Western, who finally marries Jones - “Her pure and eloquent blood spoke in her cheeks”.

Furthermore, Sophia Western’s complexion “had rather more of the lily than the rose; but when exercise, or modesty [emphasis added] increased her natural colour, no vermilion could equal it.” Sophia’s eyes were very dark and her black hair was “so luxuriant that it reached her middle, before she cut it to comply with modern fashion”. Louisa Austen’s description of her aunt Jane is as follows: “large dark eyes and a brilliant complexion, and long, long black hair down to her knees”

From here, we may need to take another look at the “Sophia Sentiment” who wrote to James Austen’s publication The Loiterer on 28 March 1789. Some critics have already suggested that “Sophia Sentiment” was Jane Austen. Claire Tomalin does not, on the grounds that “Miss Sentiment” deplores women’s taste in literature. However, soon after this, Jane Austen uses Sophia for the heroine’s name in her satire Love and Freindship, [sic] attacking the excesses of the romantic novel, a favourite Austen theme. Tomalin suggests that repeated use of the name Sophia may have been a running family joke. If this is the case, which seems likely, it is not hard to imagine where the joke originated.

Mariana's comments:

I may add further more that “THE AMIABLE Sophia” (this reminds me of that silhouette from the second edition of Mansfield Park, inscribed "l'aimable Jane" and presumed to be Jane Austen and also this line from Emma: "That sweet, amiable Jane Fairfax! said Mrs. John Knightley”) was “a middle-sized woman; but rather inclining to tall”, her black hair “was now curled so gracefully in her neck, that few could believe it to be her own” and “her nose was exactly regular, and her mouth, in which were two rows of ivory, exactly answered Sir John Suckling’s description in those lines:

Her lips were red, and one was thin,
Compar’d to that was next her chin.
Some bee had stung it newly.”

We are also told that Sophia (eighteen “when she is introduced into this history”), was in love with Tom: “her heart was irretrievably lost before she suspected it was in danger”, but “though this young gentleman was not insensible of the charms of Sophia; though he greatly liked her beauty, and esteemed all her other qualifications, she had made, however, no deep impression on his heart; for which, as it renders him liable to the charge of stupidity, or at least of want of taste, we shall now proceed to account. The truth then is, his heart was in the possession of another woman” - whose name was Molly…

I think you’ve already made the connection with our Tom and his Mary (again, there could be some truth in Joan K Ray’s article: The One-Sided Romance of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy) and also, our dear Edward and Elinor’s story in Sense and Sensibility.

Reading how Jane was described by her family and friends, you will find not only similarities with Sophia but also with some of her own heroines.

A good example will be Marianne in Sense and Sensibility:

Her form, though not so correct as her sister's, in having the advantage of height, was more striking; and her face was so lovely, that when in the common cant of praise, she was called a beautiful girl, truth was less violently outraged than usually happens. Her skin was very brown, but, from its transparency, her complexion was uncommonly brilliant; her features were all good; her smile was sweet and attractive; and in her eyes, which were very dark, there was a life, a spirit, an eagerness, which could hardily be seen without delight.”

Another one will be Emma - one of the few characters that Jane ever described: "Pretty! say beautiful rather. Can you imagine anything nearer perfect beauty than Emma - face and figure?...Such an eye! - the true hazel eye - and so brilliant! regular features, open countenance, with a complexion! oh! what a bloom of full health, and such a pretty height and size; such a firm and upright figure. There is health, not merely in her bloom, but in her air, her head, her glance."

Louisa Austen:large dark eyes and a brilliant complexion, and long, long black hair down to her knees”

Henry Austen: "Of personal attractions she possessed a considerable share. Her stature was that of true elegance. It could not have been increased without exceeding the middle height. Her carriage and deportment were quiet, yet graceful. Her features were separately good. Their assemblage produced an unrivalled expression of that cheerfulness, sensibility, and benevolence, which were her real characteristics. Her complexion was of the finest texture. It might with truth be said, that her eloquent blood spoke through her modest cheek. Her voice was extremely sweet. She delivered herself with fluency and precision. Indeed she was formed for elegant and rational society, excelling in conversation as much as in composition."

Edward Austen Leigh: "In person she was very attractive; her figure was rather tall and slender, her step light and firm, and her whole appearance expressive of health and animation. In complexion she was a clear brunette with a rich colour; she had full round cheeks, with mouth and nose small and well formed bright hazel eyes, and brown hair forming natural curls close round her face."

Sir Egerton Brydges: "Her hair was dark brown and curled naturally, her large dark eyes were widely opened and expressive. She had clear brown skin and blushed so brightly and so readily."

Mr Fowle: "... certainly pretty-bright & a good deal of colour in her face – like a doll – no that would not give at all the idea for she had so much expression – she was like a child – quite a child very lively and full of humour."

Caroline Austen: "... her's was the first face I can remember thinking pretty ... Her hair, a darkish brown, curled naturally – it was in short curls round her face...Her face was rather round than long – she had a bright but not a pink colour – a clear brown complexion and very good hazel eyes. Her hair, a darkish brown, curled naturally, it was in short curls around her face.”

By Mariana.

Pic 1: Jane Austen from: Easthants
Pic 2: Kate Beckinsale as Emma from: Strangegirl
Pic 3: Kate Winslet as Marianne from: Rosings
Pic 4: Kate Beckinsale as Emma from: Strangegirl
Pic 5: Kate Beckinsale as Emma from: Strangegirl
Pic 6: Jane Austen by Jane Odiwe: Austen Effusions

Saturday, 20 September 2008

BJ Fansite's article of Madam Lefroy at the Jane Austen Center!

My deep gratitude to Laura Boyle and her Jane Austen Center in Bath, and also to dearest Rachel who wrote an excellent biography of Madam Anne Lefroy last year, we now have the Madam Lefroy article from Becoming Jane Fansite attached and quoted by the Jane Austen Center. Here's the link to the Madam Lefroy section at the Jane Austen Center.

It's a pleasure for us to help you, Laura. Ladies, keep up the good work! I understand we've been pretty quite because of our schedules, but we're still here to support the amicable friendship of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy!

Pic: Madam Anne Lefroy from the Jane Austen Center

Jane Austen Quote of the Week - Week 22

This week's quote is from Mansfield Park – Chapter 9:


Miss Crawford has just learned that Edmund is to be a clergyman, and in the midst of their discussion she says, “A clergyman is nothing.”

Edmund states the importance [in bold] of the clergy in his reply:

“The nothing of conversation has its gradations, I hope, as well as the never. A clergyman cannot be high in state or fashion. He must not head mobs, or set the ton in dress. But I cannot call that situation[being a clergyman] nothing which has the charge of all that is of the first importance to mankind, individually or collectively considered, temporally and eternally, which has the guardianship of religion and morals, and consequently of the manners which result from their influence. No one here can call the office nothing. If the man who holds it is so, it is by the neglect of his duty, by foregoing its just importance, and stepping out of his place to appear what he ought not to appear.”

Edmund goes on to explain the influences to be expected from the clergy, thusly:

“…And with regard to their influencing public manners, Miss Crawford must not misunderstand me, or suppose I mean to call them the arbiters of good–breeding, the regulators of refinement and courtesy, the masters of the ceremonies of life. The manners I speak of might rather be called conduct, perhaps, the result of good principles; the effect, in short, of those doctrines which it is their duty to teach and recommend; and it will, I believe, be everywhere found, that as the clergy are, or are not what they ought to be, so are the rest of the nation.”

Now we know what is wrong with the world and who to blame for it. Well, Jane said it, I didn’t. Oh, not really though, God takes the blame according to Isaiah 45:7 where He says, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” There are those who discount this by saying He wouldn’t do that, but He can create good and evil since He also has the power to restore all things which makes Him Fair and Just.


This is just one example that I have found where Jane has included her religious beliefs that I would like to have the time to collect. I think we may be surprised at what we could find. End of Today’s Sermon.

Linda the Librarian

Pic: An old but classical illustration of Mansfield Park, from only a novel

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Jane Austen Quote - Week Twenty-One

I was reading Pride & Prejudice this week and I re-discovered a quote that I have always adored. It's Jane at her best - yet again. Post-Pemberley discussions:

Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth talked of all that had occurred, during their visit, as they returned, except what had particularly interested them both. The looks and behaviour of every body they had seen were discussed, except of the person who had mostly engaged their attention. They talked of his sister, his friends, his house, his fruit, of every thing but himself; yet Elizabeth was longing to know what Mrs. Gardiner thought of him, and Mrs. Gardiner would have been highly gratified by her niece's beginning the subject.

Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 45.

They talked 'of all that had occurred ... except what had particularly interested them both'. To me, this seems so fundamentally human - or female, at least. I can just see Lizzy, dying to discuss him - yet everything is so new, and there's all this shyness and vulnerability and self-consciousness about the specialness of it all ... that to initate a conversation about him is just too much. Wonderful Jane. In few words she layers so much.

Pic: Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth from: BBC

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Jane Austen Quote – Week Twenty

Man, it's my turn already! Time goes by... Speaking of time, let's see what Marianne Dashwood said about time required for intimacy. Yes, my dearest readers, from Sense & Sensibility, chapter 12:

'It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; - It is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.'

Marianne, indeed you were right. At least, I've met some people who I could never truly understand, and yet - at the other end of the spectrum - there are these people that directly clicked with me despite our short acquaintance. I suppose, disposition indeed matters, though I also have another explanation for that...

Anyway, seven days, eh? I bet that the time required for Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy to be intimately connected since their first introduction in Christmas holiday 1795 was not more than seven days...

Pic: CL Brock from