Friday, May 12, 2006


We met the other day in an idyllic setting to discuss The Jane Austen Book Club. One of the discussions was a bit of a revelation to me, in that it articulated something which I immediately recognized as something I had felt but not brought to the surface of my thinking. It came about because one of the members said " We tend to see Austen as a bit of a period piece...the costumes, the history." [which is what the movies emphasise] and I realised when she said this that yes, this masks the reality of the books for us. When Austen wrote and people read her the historical window is not what they would see. The readers of Austen's day would see only the stories, the gossipy situations, the irony, the tongue in cheek humour etc. Austen's books were much more like Fowler's book than they seem on the surface.


mamie said...

Sort of like the Shakespearian plays (in reverse)? People apparently loved and understood them easily when they were first performed. The "costunmes" were the dress of the day, etc.

canary said...

Indeed. A good comparison.

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)