Saturday, 30 April 2011

Jane Austen Quote of the Week - Week 150

In chapter 21 of Emma the marriage of Mr Elton to Miss Hawkins has just been announced by Miss Bates. She says:

"It is such a happiness when good people get together—and they always do."

As I am sure all of you know today has been a very special day here in England (and all around the world) as Prince William married Catherine Middleton. The ceremony was wonderful and from the interviews I have heard and what I watched today, they really do appear to be "good" people. I wanted to use this quote to commemorate such a momentous occasion.

Pic 1: Mr and Mrs Elton
Pic 2: Prince William and Kate Middleton

Friday, 22 April 2011

Jane Austen Quote of the Week - Week 149

Of special interest this week (with a surprise at the end) in Pride &Prejudice is Miss Mary King. We find her mentioned in the following chapters.

In Chapter 27 Elizabeth and her Aunt Gardiner are discussing Wickham's attachment to Miss King:

Mrs. Gardiner then rallied her niece on Wickham's desertion, and complimented her on bearing it so well.
"But, my dear Elizabeth," she added, "what sort of girl is Miss King? I should be sorry to think our friend mercenary."
"Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs between the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin? Last Christmas you were afraid of his marrying me, because it would be imprudent; and now, because he is trying to get a girl with only ten thousand pounds, you want to find out that he is mercenary."
"If you will only tell me what sort of girl Miss King is, I shall know what to think."
"She is a very good kind of girl, I believe. I know no harm of her."
"But he paid her not the smallest attention till her grandfather's death made her mistress of this fortune."
"No -- why should he? If it were not allowable for him to gain my affections because I had no money, what occasion could there be for making love to a girl whom he did not care about, and who was equally poor?"
"But there seems indelicacy in directing his attentions towards her so soon after this event."

In Chapter 36 Elizabeth is re-evaluating the character (or lack thereof) of Wickham and she thinks:

How differently did everything now appear in which he was concerned! His attentions to Miss King were now the consequence of views solely and hatefully mercenary; and the mediocrity of her fortune proved no longer the moderation of his wishes, but his eagerness to grasp at anything.

In Chapter 39 we find that Miss King is saved from Wickham:

There is no danger of Wickham's marrying Mary King. There's for you! She is gone down to her uncle at Liverpool: gone to stay. Wickham is safe."
"And Mary King is safe!" added Elizabeth; "safe from a connexion imprudent as to fortune."
"She is a great fool for going away, if she liked him."
"But I hope there is no strong attachment on either side," said Jane.

Briefly, this covers Miss King's story. Now here is the surprise. Sophie St. Clair sent me an email at my web site "The Loiterer" to say that she had written a graphic novel about our "Miss King" in Pride and Prejudice. Sophie has a beautiful web site here: Sophie's Mary King and her book "Mary King- Volume 1" is available at Amazon here: Mary King. Both are definitely interesting. Enjoy.

Linda the Librarian

Pic: Sophie St. Clair

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Jane Austen Centre Features.....

I wanted to acknowledge some of the great features in this months The Jane Austen Centre Monthly Newsletter.

Firstly an article entitled Art competition set to revive interest in Stoneleigh Abbey written in the The Courier, based in Warwick, UK.

Excerpts from the article:
"In 1806, the house passed to the Rev Thomas Leigh, a relative of Jane Austen, who is believed to have based descriptions in Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park on the house and its grounds."

"Four Leaf Clover, which runs events at the historic house, is launching a competition to draw or paint either the west wing or its 14th century gatehouse."

"Pictures can be any size up to A1, in charcoal, pencil, watercolour, acrylic, oil or pastel. Entry is free. The closing date will be September 29 and winners will be announced on October 10

I appreciate that the majority of our readers are not local to Warwick in the UK but I wanted to make you all aware of this excellent attempt to awaken interest in people about something so wonderful.


The Jane Austen Centre also points us to an article written by an English Literature teacher in the USA. It can be read here. The title of this article is "Why We Need Jane Austen or How to be a Gentleman with Examples Good and Bad."
He explains his experience of reading Pride and Prejudice with a group of young students and the joy it has brought him. Excerpts taken from the article:

"In short, Austen reminds us of the largely forgotten categories of the lady and the gentlemen. It is her genius to make us aspire to these roles even in a world where such notions are strange and often ridiculed."

"Austen’s gentlemen (I’m thinking especially of Darcy here) understand the call of duty; they are committed to family, reputation, propriety, and self-control. To be sure, Darcy takes himself quite seriously, but aren’t these pursuits serious by nature? To neglect one’s duty, to be careless of one’s family and reputation, to ignore the bounds of propriety and to indulge the appetites without restraint are not the actions of a gentleman. They represent, conversely, the behavior of a boor. Or, perhaps equally fitting, they are the actions of a male who has no sense of what it means to be a man."

Thanks to The Jane Austen Centre for making us aware. I would be really interested to here your comments ...

Pic 1: Article in The Courier
Pic 2: Period drama website

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Jane Austen Quote of the Week - Week 148

This week I have chosen a quote from Sanditon. Jane Austen died in 1817 leaving Sanditon unfinished. The novel is about the generation of a new town, named "Sanditon" and my chosen quote is taken from a letter (featured in chapter 5) in which one of its inhabitants, Diana Parker, wrote to her brother criticising the medical profession.

“We have consulted physician after physician in vain, till we are quite convinced that they can do nothing for us and that we must trust to our own knowledge of our own wretched constitutions for any relief.”

I have a personal interest in alternative therapies. I do not see them as a conventional medicine replacement but instead a means of complementing the conventional approach with less intrusive, supportive methods. My interest has led to many conversations with people who have a less than fond opinion of the medical profession and that is why this quote stood out to me.

I think that Diana's words are very wise and so true- ultimately we have to trust our own knowledge of self before any relief from an ailment can be experienced. I truly believe that a deep understanding of ourselves (body, mind and soul) has the power to achieve anything, what some would call miracles.

I find it interesting that Jane Austen in these last months of her life felt the urge to embrace such a topic as the pros and cons of the medical profession- it makes me wonder about her own experiences and whether she decided that her only relief was to try to truly understand herself.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 147

This week's quote was, once more, taken from Pride & Prejudice. Chapter 18 of Volume III (Chapter 60) in which Elizabeth and Darcy had confessed their love towards each other and Lizzy wrote a letter to Mrs Gardiner.

``I would have thanked you before, my dear aunt, as I ought to have done, for your long, kind, satisfactory, detail of particulars; but to say the truth, I was too cross to write. You supposed more than really existed. But now suppose as much as you chuse; give a loose to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford, and unless you believe me actually married, you cannot greatly err.''

The context of this week's quote is the bolded phrase. Indulge your imagination in every possible flight. I feel it very relatable to me, for I had several problems last week (among others the final break down of my personal laptop) which made me cry big time today (well, not because of the laptop). But I felt better afterwards and started to look forward for better days. As my partner wisely put: when you have a bad day, just know that tomorrow will definitely be better.

Well, let's hope so. And that's what imagination is for.

Pic: found it over the internet last year, but I was careless not to note the source. Will search for it later... my apologies...

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Jane Austen Quote of the Week - Week 146

Since we are on the subjects of cakes, I did a bit more research on ‘sponge cakes’. The word ‘cake’ is mentioned once in Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion. Emma has 3 mentions and Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey does not have any. Here is the one from Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 45 where Elizabeth finds herself visiting at Pemberley:

The next variation which their visit afforded was produced by the entrance of servants with cold meat, cake, and a variety of all the finest fruits in season; but this did not take place till after many a significant look and smile from Mrs. Annesley to Miss Darcy had been given, to remind her of her post. There was now employment for the whole party -- for though they could not all talk, they could all eat; and the beautiful pyramids of grapes, nectarines, and peaches soon collected them round the table.

The fruit is interesting also, especially the nectarines. I would not have thought that they were around way back then.

Next I did find a recipe for “Aunt Norris’ Spunge Cake” in the on line magazine from the Jane Austen Centre seen here: Recipe. This recipe is said to be from Raffald’s book quoted below, but I could not find that recipe in the original edition.

The reference on that page led me to look it up and here is the complete title “The Experienced English House-keeper, For the Use and Ease of Ladies, House-keepers, Cooks, &c. Wrote purely from PRACTICE, And dedicated to the Hon. Lady Elizabeth Warburton” by Elizabeth Raffald, and published in 1769. It has a recipe for ‘Spunge Biscuits’ and just to give you some idea of what all is involved, I’ll copy the recipe here from the Google copy of 1769:

Beat the Yolks of twelve Eggs half an Hour, put in a Pound and a half of Sugar beat and sifted, Whisk it well up ‘till you see it rise in Bubbles, beat the Whites to a strong Froth, Whisk them well with your Sugar and Yolks, beat in fourteen Ounces of Flour, with the Rinds of two Lemons grated, bake them in Tin Moulds buttered, or Coffins; they require an hot Oven, the Mouth must not be stopped, when you put them into the Oven, dust them with Sugar; they will take half an Hour baking.

This is beginning to sound like what we call “sponge cake” today, but please don’t ask me to explain ‘Coffins’ or ‘the Mouth must not be stopped’ because I have no idea. Whew, what a journey, and they did all this without the benefit of our electric kitchen gadgets.

Linda the Librarian