JASNA-Vermont Next Meeting! June 3, 2018 with Professor Peter Sabor

You are Cordially Invited to JASNA-Vermont’s June Meeting 

Professor Peter Sabor

‘Reading with Austen’:
the Godmersham Park Library Goes Digital
 

Sunday, 3 June 2018, 1 -3 pm

Morgan Room, Aiken Hall,
83 Summit Street, Champlain College, Burlington VT

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About a dozen letters sent by Austen from her brother Edward’s estate at Godmersham Park survive, recording her impressions of life at the great house and her time in its extensive Library. A research project spearheaded by Professor Peter Sabor of McGill University called Reading with Austen, will create a virtual version of what was in this Library, showing the books exactly as they were on the shelves. Edward’s handwritten 1818 catalogue of the library lists nearly 1,300 books, a third of which are extant today in the collection of Richard Knight and now on loan to the Library at Chawton House. A global search continues for the remaining titles. Come join us for a history of the Library, this digital project, how and where books are being found, and a sneak-peek into the website to be launched this July.

 

~ Free & open to the public ~
~ Light refreshments served
 ~ 

For more information:   JASNAVTregion [at] gmail [dot] com
Please visit the blog at: http://JaneAustenInVermont.blog

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Peter Sabor, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, is Professor of English and Canada Research Chair at McGill University, Montreal, where he is also Director of the Burney Centre. A Life Member of JASNA, he coordinated the 1998 JASNA conference in Quebec City, and has spoken at several JASNA conferences and Regional events. His publications on Jane Austen include an edition of her early writings, Juvenilia (2006), The Cambridge Companion to Emma (2015), and Manuscript Works (2013).

Hope you can join us!
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Godmersham Park image: by John Preston Neale, 1824 (Wikipedia)

c2018 Jane Austen in Vermont

“…a something ready for publication…” ~ The Publishing Journey of Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’

I begin with my own prejudice – Persuasion has long been my favorite Austen novel. One cannot dispute the joy of reading Pride and Prejudice; or the laughter at the pure innocence and brilliance of Northanger Abbey; we can sympathize with the moral steadfastness of Fanny in Mansfield Park, savor the (im)perfections of Emma (both the book and heroine!), and revel in that dawning realization that Sense and Sensibility is so much better than at first thought. But it is Persuasion that holds my abiding affection – a novel of second chances, a novel that seems closest in some inexplicable way to Jane Austen herself, a romance where she actually plays out the agony of lost and found love, and so unlike her, a profession of love that she actually doesn’t back off from and leave the reader to their own imaginings!

But here today, I am only going to talk of how it all came to be. I’ve already written about the interesting publishing journey of Northanger Abbey here – and Persuasion, because it was published along with NA in a 4-volume set after Austen’s death, is bound up (literally) in that publishing story, Northanger Abbey, her earliest completed work, and Persuasion, her last – and why Sarah Emsley on her blog has called her celebration of these two works as “Youth and Experience.”

But other than being bound together in late December 1817, the journey of Persuasion’s composition and publication is quite different, as we shall see.

How it came to be:

NA / P – 1st ed – Peter Harrington

Cassandra’s “Memorandum” (see Minor Works, facing p 242), where she wrote the dates of the composition of each of the novels, tells us that Austen began Persuasion on August 8, 1815 and wrote “Finis” at the end of the manuscript on July 18, 1816.

We know from her nephew James Edward Austen Leigh’s 1871 Memoir that Austen was dissatisfied with the ending, she thought it “tame and flat:” she rewrote chapter 10 (i.e.chapter 10 of volume 2), added chapter 11, and retained chapter 12 (which had been the final chapter 11). This final version was finished on August 6, 1816.

These handwritten original two chapters are the only extant manuscripts of Austen’s novels.  These were first printed in the 1871 second edition of the Memoir, and this was the accepted text until the actual MS became available on December 12, 1925 and was edited and published by R. W. by Chapman under the title Two Chapters of Persuasion (Oxford, 1926). The manuscripts are now housed in the British Library, and you can see the transcribed text beside the facsimile online at Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts: http://www.janeausten.ac.uk/manuscripts/blpers/1.html

Cancelled Chapter 10 – JAFM

As these cancelled chapters are included in most modern scholarly editions of the novel, I shall assume you have read them and will only summarize here: Austen has Anne meeting Admiral Croft on her way home from Mrs. Smith’s (and where she has just learned of the true character of William Elliot) – she is invited to visit Mrs. Croft, and assured of her being alone, she accepts, and to her consternation finds Capt. Wentworth at home. Admiral Croft has asked Wentworth to find out from Anne if the rumors are true she is to marry her cousin and thus might want to move into Kellynch Hall.  Wentworth is quite beside himself but does as asked, “irresolute & embarrassed;” with Anne’s adamant assurance that nothing is farther from the truth, they have

a silent, but very powerful Dialogue;- on his side, Supplication, on hers acceptance. – Still, a little nearer- and a hand taken and pressed – and “Anne, my own dear Anne!” – bursting forth in the fullness of exquisite feeling – and all Suspense & Indecision were over. – They were reunited. They were restored to all that had been lost.

Etc. etc… explaining all their past feelings and misunderstandings and a final chapter of future plans, they are left “with little to distress them beyond the want of Graciousness and Warmth” once their news was spread to family and friends, ex-potential lovers and a scheming Mrs. Clay.

A discussion of why Austen made these changes is beyond the topic here at hand – but we can agree with Austen’s own assessment that it was too “tame and flat:” she needed to pull all the characters together – the Musgroves, Benwick and Harville, the Crofts, and the obtuse Elliots; she needed to increase the tension and suspense between Anne and Wentworth; she wanted to give Anne a strong voice in her conversation with Harville, all overheard by Wentworth; and of course she needed the Letter – what would Persuasion be without “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope…”? !

Photo by Sony/Everett / Rex Features 
PERSUASION, Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, 1995

I will note that in the movie version (Amanda Root – Ciaran Hinds, Sony/BBC 1995) – and I think the most perfect of all the Austen adaptations – a part of this scene with Wentworth and Anne is added to the plot, Wentworth confronting Anne in the Assembly Room at Admiral Croft’s request, Wentworth sure of her impending engagement to Elliot, and Anne, unable to answer in her confusion and hurt, runs off. This leads to the scene as written at the Inn – Wentworth listening and composing, the remainder of the film following the book. – This is all worthy of further conversation!

But one of Austen’s classic lines is not in the final novel – the first draft is a bit more comic in nature, and perhaps she thought it not fitting the more somber nature of this work:

It was necessary to sit up half the Night & lie awake the remainder to comprehend with composure her present state, & pay for the overplus of Bliss, by Headake & Fatigue.

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That Austen made these changes is a gift to later generations, as it is in this manuscript that we are given a rare glimpse into how meticulous she was in her writing and editing methods, crossing out and rewriting, looking for the exactly correct word or phrase.

We know little about Persuasion from Austen herself:  it is only mentioned in her Letters twice, though not by name:

On March 13, 1817 she wrote to her niece Fanny Knight:

I will answer your kind questions more than you expect. – Miss Catherine (meaning Northanger Abbey) is put upon the Shelve for the present, and I do not know if she will ever come out; – but I have a something ready for Publication, which may perhaps appear about a twelvemonth hence.  It is short, about the length of Catherine – This is for yourself alone… [Letter 153, Le Faye]

And again on March 23, 1817:

Do not be surprised at finding Uncle Henry acquainted with my having another ready for publication. I could not say No when he asked me, but he knows nothing more of it. – You will not like it, so you need not be impatient.  You may perhaps like the Heroine, as she is almost too good for me. [Letter 155, Le Faye]

The working title for Persuasion was “The Elliots” – as there is no evidence that Austen chose the titles for either Northanger Abbey or Persuasion, it is generally accepted that her brother Henry titled both; and we might agree with him: interesting to note that “persuasion” in one form or another in mentioned in the novel at least 29 times – you can go to this hyper-concordance to Jane Austen to search for all the occurrences: http://victorian-studies.net/concordance/austen/

Henry must have delivered the manuscripts of both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion to John Murray very soon after Austen’s death on July 17, 1817. Murray wrote to Byron, whose works Murray also published, in early September 1817 telling him that of the new books he was about to publish included “two new novels left by Jane Austen, the ingenious author of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ who, I am sorry to say, died six weeks ago.” (Gilson, xxx.)

So, one question to ask is if Austen “finished” Persuasion in August 1816, why write seven months later that it “may perhaps appear about a twelvemonth hence” ??? What kept her from sending it along to Murray upon completion if she was happy with it in March of 2017?

Austen’s life when she was writing Persuasion:

Scene from P&P – Isabel Bishop – Morgan Library

If we look at the writing of Persuasion on a blank canvas – she started it in August 1815, finished August 1816 – we do not get a complete sense of Austen the woman, the sister, the friend, the author. I find it most fascinating to look at her life in that year and ask what else was going on while she used her spare quiet moments to write this her last novel:

– She visits London and is staying with Henry in October 1815 and stays until mid-December. She is working on the proof sheets of Emma, Henry negotiating with Murray to publish Emma and a 2nd edition of Mansfield Park – she is also working on the corrections for this 2nd edition.  

– Henry falls dangerously ill, and Austen takes on writing letters to Murray herself while nursing Henry; she requests all family members to come as there is growing concern he will not survive.

– It is conjectured that one of Henry’s doctors, Matthew Baillie, learned of his sister being the author of Pride & Prejudice, etc. and passed this word on to the Prince Regent. On the 13th of November, Austen visits Carlton House at the request of the Prince Regent’s Librarian James Stanier Clarke – she is also asked to dedicate her soon-to-be-published Emma to his “Royal Highness” – and though she hated this prospect, it likely sped up the printing process. (One aside: she had to pay for the Prince’s 3 vol. beautifully bound copy of Emma…)

Emma, 1st ed. Windsor Castle – Le Faye

– In late November, the Alton bank fails and bankruptcy looms over Henry and his partners.

– Austen leaves London on her birthday 16 December 1815 once Henry is fully recovered and the initial fear of bankruptcy seems allayed; Emma is published on 23 December 1815 (title page says 1816).

– In early 1816, Henry buys back “Susan / Catherine / Northanger Abbey” from Crosby for the £10 originally paid to Austen in 1803 and she begins to make a few edits, writes her “Advertisement” and by March it is “put upon the Shelve at present.” (Crosby went bankrupt shortly thereafter).

– In February, her brother Charles, commanding the HMS Phoenix, is caught in a storm off the Greek Archipelago and runs aground. He is brought up for a court-martial in April for his responsibility in the action but is completely acquitted.

– There is the ongoing lawsuit that threatens Edward Austen Knight’s properties – and this is not resolved until after Jane’s death (see Ltr. 122, October 17-18, 1815 for one reference to Edward’s “Cause”).

– And sometime in here she writes her very funny “Plan of a Novel” – inspired without question by her correspondence with Clarke which lasted from November 1815 to April 1816. [You can read this as well online here: http://www.janeausten.ac.uk/manuscripts/pmplan/1.html ].

Henry Austen

– By mid-March, Henry is declared bankrupt and his life as a banker, and Austen’s chief financial support in her publishing endeavors, is over. This is a dreadful blow to the entire family – he can no longer offer any support to his mother and sisters; Edward has lost a good deal of money and will be responsible for many of the debts; and James is at risk of losing his inheritance in the Leigh-Perrot estate. The bankruptcy is resolved by June – but Henry has had to sell off everything (for a fine accounting of the details of Henry’s home furnishings, see Clery, 268).

– Emma is published in late December and initially does very well, but sales begin to slack off after the March 1818 Quarterly Review essay by Walter Scott. Appearing to offer praise to Austen’s narrative voice and abilities to portray her few families with wit and precision, Clery finds that the negative tone of the review, the emphasis on what Austen leaves out of her works and his failure to mention Mansfield Park at all, greatly influenced Austen’s writing of Persuasion.

She is writing this work during these many crises of health and possible death and financial losses. No wonder she writes of an extravagant family on the brink of ruin and characters with various health issues. Clery makes another point I confess to never thinking of before – could her Sir Walter be some sort of slam at Walter Scott?? (Clery, 272) – You can compare Austen’s Emma sales (1409 copies sold early on) with Scott’s own sales for his Rob Roy, also published in late December 1817 and which sold 10,000 copies in two weeks. 

 

– In the context of the wider world, there was the ever-expanding and more competitive market for publishing novels in Austen’s time. In 1775, the year she was born, 31 new novels were published; in 1811, when Sense & Sensibility appeared, 80 new fiction works appeared; for the year 1818, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published along with 61 other novels.  Altogether, 2,503 new novels were published in the years between 1775 and 1818. (Raven, 195-6)

So to answer my own question: why did Austen not publish Persuasion after she finished it? Her brother was no longer able to cover the costs of publication and loss if sales should fail; and, the signs of her own declining health were beginning in mid-1816, that summer, “the year without a summer” due to the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. It is a wonder she was able to write anything at all, much less go on with working on her brilliant Sanditon, put aside on 18 March 1817…

 What did the book look like?

NA / 1st ed. title page – P. Harrington

– It was published posthumously in December 1817 [though the title page says 1818] with Northanger Abbey

– Title page states: “By the Author of ‘Pride & Prejudice,’ ‘Mansfield Park,’ etc.”; With a “Biographical Notice of the Author,” (dated Dec. 20, 1817, by Henry Austen, thus identifying his sister as the author to the public for the first time)

– Published by John Murray, London; 1818; in four volumes: the two Northanger Abbey volumes printed by C. Roworth; the two Persuasion volumes by T. Davison of Lombard St.

– Included is the “Advertisement by the Authoress to Northanger Abbey” where Austen “apologizes” for the datedness of the story and zings the dastardly publisher for withholding the book for 10 years…

– Advertised first in The Courier 17 December 1817 as to be published on 20 December in 4 volumes, 24s.: “Northanger Abbey, a Romance; and Persuasion, a Novel.” The advertisement in The Morning Chronicle appeared on the 19th (“Tomorrow will be published”) and the 20th of December 1817 (“Books published this day”).

Physical description:

  • 12mo or about 7.5″ tall, with text on pages not crowded but about 5-8 words / line and about 21 lines / page in vol. 3; 22 lines / page in vol. 4 – and interesting to note that unlike the Northanger volumes there are no catchwords used in the Persuasion volumes
  • blue-grey paper boards, off-white or grey-brown backstrips, white paper labels (there are a number of variants) –

NA / P – 1st ed – Sotheby’s, 2010

Size of run: @ 1750 copies [various opinions on this; some say 2500 copies] – 1409 copies sold very quickly, the majority to circulating libraries

Cost: 24 shillings for the 4 volumes

Profit: @£515 – like Austen’s other works, Persuasion was published on commission:  Austen paid for costs of production and advertising and retained the copyright; the publisher paid a commission on each book sold – the exception was Pride & Prejudice for which she sold the copyright to Thomas Egerton

What is it worth today?

Price Guides (estimates in 2007): Original binding: $75,000 / Rebound copy: $20,000

An online search on Abebooks, March 15, 2018 brings up five copies of the 4-volume 1st edition, none in original boards, and range from $11,000 to $25,000

In 2010, a 1st edition in original boards sold at Sotheby’s for £43,250 ($68,396) with an estimate of 31,628 — 47,442   USD)

Where can you find a copy?

I love this tidbit (from Gilson): Queen Elizabeth has in her personal library at Windsor Castle Sir Walter Scott’s copy of the 1st edition.

Gilson notes where copies of the 1st edition can be found (other than the Queen’s and therefore more accessible to all, and certainly at least one of these will be close to you!), at all the usual suspects in various bindings: Goucher, the Bodleian, Boston Athenaeum, Boston Public Library, British Library, Cambridge, Jane Austen’s House Museum, Columbia, Library of Congress, U of Edinburgh, U of Glasgow, Harvard, London Library, National Library of Scotland, the Morgan Library, New York Public Library, U of Toronto, Yale, Williams, etc. See the rest of Gilson’s list on pg 88-91.

When was the First American edition published?

Persuasion – 1st Am ed, 1832 – James Cummins

Persuasion was published in America by Carey & Lea of Philadelphia in two volumes in 1832, separate from Northanger Abbey which was published in two volumes in 1833. The title page states “by Miss Austen, Author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ ‘Emma,’ ‘Mansfield-Park,’ etc.” Bound in drab paper boards with purple cloth spines with white spine labels, the spine reads: “Persuasion, by Miss Austen / Author of Pride and Prejudice.” 1250 copies were printed, and advertised on November 8, 1832 as “Persuasion, a novel, by Miss Austin [sic]” as being published that day. (And people have been getting it wrong ever since!) Gilson points out the various modifications to language typical of all the American editions of Austen’s novels, mostly those having to do with the Deity, for instance “Lord bless me!” is changed to just “Bless me!”

Estimated value: Original binding: $10,000 / Rebound copy: $5,000

You can find two copies available online at Abebooks: $10,000 and $15,000 – both in original boards.

Persuasion – 1st Am ed, 1832 -title page – J. Cummins

Parlez-vous francais? Persuasion in French:


La Famille Elliot ou “L’Ancienne Inclination” [ “the old or former inclination”] translated by Isabelle de Montolieu, was published in Paris in 1821 by Arthus Bertrand. This is the first published novel to have Austen’s full name on the title page and to include illustrations: an engraved frontispiece in each volume (Delvaux after Charles Abraham Chasselat). In volume I we find Capt. Wentworth removing two-year old Walter Musgrove from Anne’s back; and in volume II, here we see Wentworth placing his heart-wrenching letter before Anne.

You can read the full text (in French) here: https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/La_Famille_Elliot

The French texts of Austen’s novels, what Southam calls “travesties not translations,” (26) were modified to fit the tastes of the sentimental French reading public. In Persuasion, Montolieu changes the ending by restoring Anne to Kellynch rather than leaving the future of Capt. Wentworth and Anne dependent upon a lasting peace. (See Cossy, 176) One notable change (and why we might ask!), is that Anne’s name is changed to Alice! 

The First Illustrated Edition in England:

NA / P – Bentley, 1833

Richard Bentley purchased the copyrights of Austen’s novels from Henry and Cassandra in 1832 (and the copyright of P&P from Thomas Egerton) and in 1832-33 he published all the novels in his Standard Novels series. These were the first English editions to carry illustrations – steel-engraved frontispieces and title page vignettes by William Greatbatch after George Pickering. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published in 1833 in a single volume together with the frontispiece from Northanger Abbey (Henry coming up the stairs surprising Catherine) and the title vignette from Persuasion showing a seated Anne overhearing Capt. Wentworth talking to Louisa Musgrove. All very Victorian!

The Timeframe of Persuasion:

Though Austen is often been criticized for creating an insular world with little commentary on outside real-life events, such thinking is belied with a close study of Persuasion, where one finds a very specific chronology easily linked to the historical reality of the time depicted.

– The first paragraph of Persuasion sets us into this timeframe with quoting the “Elliot of Kellynch Hall” entry from the Baronetage, the only work Sir Walter seems capable of reading, and where we learn the birth and death dates of everyone in the family – we learn that Anne was born on August 9, 1787 and a still-born son in 1789, and that Anne’s mother died in 1801.

– In chapter 4, we are given the very specific time that Capt.Wentworth stayed with his brother at Monkford for six months over the summer of 1806. This is the backstory of Persuasion, the current story often called a sequel to this original tale of love, all now told in four pages…

– The exact time of the action is set a few pages on in chapter 1: “…at the present time, (the summer of 1814)…,” and in chapter 3, a direct reference to the peace: “This peace will be turning all our rich Naval Officers ashore.” The Peace of Paris was signed on May 30, 1814, Napoleon abdicating and off to Elba. There were celebrations in London that Austen refers to in her letters:

Allied Sovereigns Attending a Review in Hyde Park June 1814
Duke of Wellington, King of Prussia, Prince Regent (later George IV), and Emperor of Russia

Austen writes Cassandra who is in London with Henry:

Take care of yourself, & do not be trampled to death in running after the Emperor. The report in Alton yesterday was that they certainly would certainly travel this road either to, or from Portsmouth. – I long to know what this Bow of the Prince’s will produce.- [Ltr 101, 14 June 1814]

– The Elliots travel to Bath sometime in mid-September, Anne goes to Uppercross Cottage, and on Michaelmas, September 29, the Crofts take over Kellynch.

– Captain Wentworth arrives in October; they all visit Lyme Regis in November (this is 17 miles from Uppercross). In January Lady Russell takes Anne to Bath (Mary’s letter to Anne in Bath is dated February 1815, this carried by the Crofts when they come to Bath for the Admiral’s health). Captain Wentworth follows not far behind, all is beautifully settled with Anne, and the novel ends in March of 1815.

– In the real world, Napoleon escapes Elba and returns to Paris by March 20, 1815 – this is after Persuasion ends, before Waterloo in June 1815, and why Austen ends the novel with the unknown state of the peace leaving Anne and her Captain in limbo. In truth, the Navy was not mobilized in the spring of 1815, and so we might rest comfortably in that reality of Wentworth not being returned to a Ship and War – and contemporary readers in late 1817 would have known that… but Austen chooses to emphasize that any such “peace” is likely not long-lasting, as we know all too well even today…

Austen’s personal knowledge of Bath, Lyme Regis and the Navy is paramount in Persuasion, but it is interesting to note regarding the Navy and pointed out by Brian Southam in his Jane Austen and the Navy, that not a single critic or commentator addresses her sailors and officers as a social class until Richard Simpson’s review of James Edward Austen Leigh’s 1870 Memoir in the North British Review of April 1870.

And one date in this novel that has always made me wonder: why does Austen have Charles and Mary Musgrove marry in 1810 on her very own birthday of December 16?? Any thoughts?? There is a long gap in the letters here: from July 26, 1809 to April 20, 1811, so we have no idea what was going on in Austen’s own life on that date in 1810 – we can only wonder that it was not some sort of code to her family of readers…

(For a complete calendar to the events in Persuasion see Ellen Moody’s post here: http://www.jimandellen.org/austen/persuasion.calendar.html

What did the earliest reviewers have to say?

The early reviews of the two-novel publication all make reference to the sadness of her death and, now finally identified to the public in Henry’s “Biographical Notice,” a general lament that no other works will come from her pen. I will give a quick summary here of the four earliest reviews as this is really a topic for another blog post entirely:

  1. British Critic, December 1817, an unsigned review: After commenting on the talents of Jane Austen, where “some of the best qualities of the best sort of novels display a degree of excellence that has not been often surpassed,” the writer goes on to summarize and highly praise Northanger Abbey. Persuasion is given short shrift with a concluding paragraph I quote in its entirety:

With respect to the second of the novels, it will be necessary to say but little. It is in every respect a much less fortunate performance than that which we have just been considering. It is manifestly the work of the same mind, and contains parts of very great merit; among them, however, we certainly should not number its moral, which seems to be, that young people should always marry according to their own inclinations and upon their own judgment; for that in consequence of listening to grave counsels, they defer their marriage, til they have wherewith to live upon, they will be laying the foundation for years of misery, such as only the heroes and heroines of novels can reasonably hope ever to see the end of. (quoted in Southam, Critical Heritage, v.1, 84)

  1. Edinburgh Magazine & Literary Miscellany, May 1818, an unsigned notice (Mary Waldron corrects the common error that this was in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine). The writer calls Austen an “amiable and agreeable authoress,” that she…

will be one of the most popular of English novelists” and “within a certain limited range, has attained the highest perfection of the art of novel writing…We think we are reading the history of people whom we have seen thousands of times – with much observation, much fine sense, much delicate humour, many pathetic touches, and throughout all her works, a most charitable view of human nature, and a tone of gentleness and purity.”

All ends with my favorite line of any critic: “…novels as they are, and filled with accounts of balls and plays, and such adbominations…” !

  1. Gentleman’s Magazine, July 1818, notice / obituary. Southam quotes these words on NA and P:

The two Novels now published have no connection with each other. The characters in both are principally taken from the middle ranks of lie, and are well supported. Northanger Abbey, however is decidedly preferable to the second Novel, not only in the incidents, but even in its moral tendency. (16)

  1. Quarterly Review, January 1821, unsigned review but attributed to Richard Whately, the Archbishop of Dublin.

Whately reviews all the novels, Austin [sic] for him a serious writer whose “moral lessons, though clearly and impressively conveyed, are not offensively put forward, but spring incidentally from the circumstances of the story…that unpretending kind of instruction which is furnished by real life…her fables nearly faultless.” After a humorous take on John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey as “the Bang-up Oxonian,” Whately concludes with an analysis of romantic love as portrayed in Persuasion, and calling it her most superior work, “one of the most elegant fictions of common life we ever remember to have met with.”

As Southam points out, none of these early critics and readers “were ready to accept her disconcerting account of the ways and values of their own society” and therefore failed to “identify the force and point of her satire.” (Southam, Critical Heritage, 18) Such was left to future generations!

And this great bulk of modern criticism and commentary continues to enlighten us – and does so right here on Sarah Emsley’s blog with an array of writers who will offer interesting and insightful ways to approach Persuasion – the journey starts this week – Check back and join the conversation! 

Sources:

  1. Austen, Jane. Jane Austen’s Letters. 4th ed. Ed. Deirdre Le Faye. Oxford UP, 2011.
  2. _____. The Novels of Jane Austen: the Text Based on Collation of the Early Editions. 3rd ed. Ed. R. W. Chapman. Vol. V, Northanger Abbey & Persuasion, Oxford, 1933. [with revisions]  Introductory material
  3. _____. Persuasion. Ed. James Kinsley. Introd. Deidre Shauna Lynch. Oxford UP, 2008.
  4. Clery, E. J. Jane Austen: The Banker’s Sister. Biteback, 2017.
  5. Cossy, Valerie, and Diego Saglia. “Translations.” In Todd, 169-81.
  6. Gilson, David. A Bibliography of Jane Austen. Oak Knoll, 1997.
  7. Johnson, Claudia L., and Clara Tuite, ed. A Companion to Jane Austen. Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
  8. Le Faye, Deirdre. Jane Austen: The World of her Novels. Frances Lincoln, 2002.
  9. Raven, James. “Book Production.” In Todd. 194-203.
  10. Southam, Brian. Jane Austen and the Navy. 2nd ed. National Maritime Museum, 2005.
  11. _____, ed. Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage, Vol. I, 1811-1870. Routledge, 1979.
  12. Sutherland, Kathryn. “Chronology of Composition and Publication.” In Todd, 12-22. (See also Sutherland’s Jane Austen’s Textual Lives. Oxford, 2005)
  13. Todd, Janet, ed. Jane Austen in Context. Cambridge, 2007. See essays cited separately.
  14. Waldron, Mary. “Critical Responses, Early.” In Todd, 83-91.
c2018, Jane Austen in Vermont

Netley Abbey and the Gothic by Tony Grant

Please read this terrific in-depth post by Tony Grant over at ‘Jane Austen’s World’ on Netley Abbey and Austen’s ties to it and possible influence on her ‘Northanger Abbey.’ I visited Netley Abbey with Tony a few years ago – pouring rain, but also more atmospheric as a result!

Sitting on the base of a pillar

 

Jane Austen's World

Inquiring readers, Tony Grant, a blogger and contributor to this blog for a decade, has submitted this interesting post about Netley Abbey. He ties history, literature, poetry, and painting to Jane Austen’s fascination with the gothic novel, which led to her writing Northanger Abbey in her wonderfully satiric vein. Enjoy!

My Memories of Netley Abbey

When I was eight years old, I recall one of my grandmothers telling me about the ghosts that haunted Netley Abbey. Netley Abbey is four miles along Southampton Water from where I grew up. I lived in Woolston, a small industrial area of Southampton next to the Itchen River, which flows into Southampton Water at the cities docks. (See Google satellite map image below and Google map image alongside it.)

Within walking distance of where I lived are extensive areas of woodland and farms that specialized in market gardening. Netley Abbey itself is set within…

View original post 3,474 more words

Happy New Year One and All!!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, with gratitude to all for your visits, your comments, and your discussions of all things Jane!  ~ Thank you for including Jane Austen in Vermont in your daily blog surfing!  Welcome to 2018!

Today in Jane Austen’s life:  [from the JASNA-Wisconsin “A Year with Jane Austen” calendar]

December 31st:

  • 1797: Henry Austen marries his cousin Eliza de Feuillide, by special license.

January 1st:

  • 1787: Cousins Edward and Jane Cooper come to stay at Steventon for the New Year holidays.
  • 1812: Princess Charlotte of Wales writes that she intends to read Sense and Sensibility soon.

[Vintage Postcard:  Gold Medal Art, n.d.]

c2018, Jane Austen in Vermont

From the Archives ~ Jane Austen’s Very Own Scrooge

Emma - Christmas day paper doll3I pull this Christmas Eve post from the archives,
first posted on Dec 24, 2010

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas
from Everyone in JASNA-Vermont!

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It is a rare date that Austen mentions in her works, but one of them is today, December 24: Christmas Eve, “(for it was a very great event that Mr. Woodhouse should dine out, on the 24th of December)” [Emma Vol. I, Ch. xiii]

While we usually associate Mr. Woodhouse with often curmudgeonly weather-obsessed behavior, here he is most eager to get all wrapped up and head over to Randalls:

Mr. Woodhouse had so completely made up his mind to the visit, that in spite of the increasing coldness, he seemed to have no idea of shrinking from it, and set forward at last most punctually with his eldest daughter in his own carriage, with less apparent consciousness of the weather than either of the others; too full of the wonder of his own going, and the pleasure it was to afford at Randalls to see that it was cold, and too well wrapt up to feel it. [E, Vol. I, Ch. xiii]

Fig. 2

So it is not dear Mr. Woodhouse who is Scrooge this Christmas Eve, but Austen is adept at creating one, and long before Dickens ever did:

‘A man,” said he, ‘must have a very good opinion of himself when he asks people to leave their own fireside, and encounter such a day as this, for the sake of coming to see him. He must think himself a most agreeable fellow; I could not do such a thing. It is the greatest absurdity — Actually snowing at this moment! The folly of not allowing people to be comfortable at home, and the folly of people’s not staying comfortably at home when they can! If we were obliged to go out such an evening as this, by any call of duty or business, what a hardship we should deem it; — and here are we, probably with rather thinner clothing than usual, setting forward voluntarily, without excuse, in defiance of the voice of nature, which tells man, in every thing given to his view or his feelings, to stay at home himself, and keep all under shelter that he can; — here are we setting forward to spend five dull hours in another man’s house, with nothing to say or to hear that was not said and heard yesterday, and may not be said and heard again to-morrow. Going in dismal weather, to return probably in worse; — four horses and four servants taken out for nothing but to convey five idle, shivering creatures into colder rooms and worse company than they might have had at home.” [E, Vol. I, Ch. xiii]

Well, “Bah! Humbug!” to you too, John Knightley!he is our Scrooge this Christmas Eve [indeed, I believe that Isabella has married her father!] and his ill humor continues throughout the evening – ending of course with his gloomy and overblown report of the worsening weather that sets off three full pages of discussion on the risks of setting out, on the possibility of being snowed-in, on the cold, on the danger to the horses and the servants – “‘What is to be done, my dear Emma? – what is to be done?’ was Mr. Woodhouse’s first exclamation…” and it all is finally “settled in a few brief sentences” by Mr. Knightley and Emma, certainly foreshadowing their success as a companionable couple.

Fig. 3 ‘Christmas Weather’

And this leads to one of Austen’s most comic scenes – the proposal of Mr. Elton, Emma trapped in the carriage alone with him believing that “he had been drinking too much of Mr. Weston’s good wine, and felt sure that he would want to be talking nonsense…” – which of course he does…

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, with much snow on the ground (but not enough to trouble your carriage), some song and wine (but not enough to induce unwanted and overbearing offers of love and marriage), and the pleasure of good company (with hopefully no Scrooge-like visitors to whom you must either “comply” or be “quarrelsome” or like Emma, have your “heroism reach only to silence.” )

P.S. – And tonight pull your Emma off the shelf and read through these chapters in volume I [ch, 13-15] for a good chuckle! – this of course before your annual reading of A Christmas Carol.

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Illustrations:

1.  Emma’s Christmas Day Paper Doll at Fancy Ephemera.com
2.  Dinner at Randalls at Chrismologist.blogspot.com
3.  ‘Christmas Weather’ at Harlequin Historical Authors
4.  Vintage postcard in my collection

Pump Rooms and Gothic Terrors: How “Northanger Abbey” Came to Be

Today is Jane Austen’s birthday, and what better way to celebrate than to begin Sarah Emsley’s blog series on “ Youth and Experience: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion – a collection of essays by various scholars and Austen bloggers to be posted over the next several months – today starting here with a post on the very bumpy convoluted journey of Northanger Abbey into print. Austen would be 242; her Northanger Abbey and Persuasion joint publication will be 200 on December 2oth. Lots of reasons to celebrate!

As we begin this bicentennial celebration of the publication of Northanger Abbey (along with its companion Persuasion) we must first give full voice to how this publication came to be. And what we find are lots of questions, much scholarly debate on when Austen wrote it, when and how much she revised it, and why it sat around for so long before seeing the light of day. This publishing journey of NA is a fascinating story, pieced together by scholars from Austen’s letters, extant publisher records, and a good deal of speculation. And we still have a host of unanswered questions…

But first, I’d like to tell the story of my first reading what has been labeled the least-liked of Austen’s novels:

I did not read it until about 27 years ago; it was the one Austen book I had sought to avoid (all that bad PR)…when I first read it I was sorely disappointed and thought it silly, and Henry a condescending boor; I read it exactly one year later for a seminar, and found it quite funny, almost laugh-out-loud funny, and Henry quite charming. I read it again several years later and just enjoyed it thoroughly, finding more humor and more depth in every sentence; and now, after reading it a good number of times more, very close readings, even Underlining (I NEVER do this!), and re-reading sentences, looking up all references, etc., I have to say that I LOVE this book, there is so much in it, so very funny, so very serious in its lessons, and Henry is quite to die for!  So many people I talked to about this book have said that they either have not read it, or didn’t like it when they did (I tell everyone that you must read it at least three times)…. and then there are the few that have read it and re-read it and find that this novel, really Austen’s tribute to the Novel and Reading (one must note that in addition to the nine “horrid” novels discussed by Isabella and Catherine, there are a total of twenty-two references to books:  novels, histories, landscape sources, philosophy, Shakespeare, etc. ….!), is quite an amazing literary jewel! Indeed, it has four of my all-time favorite quotes:

Continue reading

Reblog: The Inexhaustible Jane Austen: An Interview with Jocelyn Harris and Bucknell University Press

Gentle Readers: I post here the full text of an interview with Austen scholar Jocelyn Harris that she did with her publisher Bucknell University Press on her newest book Satire, Celebrity, & Politics in Jane Austen. You can find the original post here: http://upress.blogs.bucknell.edu/2017/10/16/the-inexhaustible-jane-austen-an-interview-with-jocelyn-harris/

[Photo by Reg Graham]

Upon the release of her new book Satire, Celebrity, & Politics in Jane Austen (Bucknell University Press, 2017), Jocelyn Harris was kind enough to discuss her research and writing on the witty English novelist.  Jane Austen has been the subject for much of Harris’ work, and still is, as Harris continues to uncover new insights into Austen’s life and writing. As Harris puts it, Austen is “quite simply inexhaustible”—and as Harris’ responses demonstrate, new methods of research and deeper investigation reveal more about her with each new endeavor.

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Bucknell University Press [BUP]: You state in your introduction that you “reconstruct Jane Austen’s creative process by means of the newspapers she perused, the gossip she heard, the streets she walked upon, and the sights she saw.”  This method suggests a focus on environment, an almost anthropological study of a different time and place.  What was the research process like in regards to uncovering evidence from the past?  What challenges did you meet?  What was the most rewarding?

Jocelyn Harris [JH]: Distance is my biggest challenge, because I live in New Zealand, half a world away from the great libraries of Europe and North America. The Internet has quite simply changed my life. Exciting new resources such as databases of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century newspapers, digitized manuscripts, online books, blogs, and search engines all open up cultural and historical contexts that bring her back to life—as do new books and editions in print and e-book form, readily accessible articles on the web, and email suggestions from friends.

Reading the magnificent modern editions of Fanny Burney’s letters and journals made me aware that snippets of her correspondence, obviously too good to ignore, reappear in Austen’s novels. My guess is that her mother’s gossipy cousin, who lived over the road from the celebrated author, could have told the family many a sensational tale of Burney’s life at the court of George III.

With the help of the Internet, I realized that Austen probably based Elizabeth and Jane Bennet on two royal mistresses. Dorothy Jordan, celebrity actress, mistress to the Duke of Clarence, and mother of his ten children, seems to have inspired her creation of the lively Elizabeth, while Austen would identify a portrait of the regent’s mistress, Mrs. Georgina Quentin, as Mrs. Bingley. When the regent came courting this “professed spanker,” Georgina was living in Covent Garden, where Austen stayed with her banker brother, Henry.

Most of Jane Austen’s correspondence has been lost, and she kept no diary. Therefore, I had to fill out her life by poring over her locations, her reading, her social and literary networks, her knowledge of current events, and her viewing of cartoons and portraits.

BUP: While she is immortalized by her writing, Austen was a real person living during a unique moment in history.  In your opinion, what is the most compelling piece of information that you learned about Jane Austen during the research process for this book?

JH: Austen is often regarded as a gentle, amusing ironist. But as the title of Satire, Celebrity, and Politics in Jane Austen indicates, I believe that she was a courageous political satirist.  At a time when the cult of celebrity was in its infancy, she targeted celebrities, up to and including the Prince of Wales. Her in-jokes about public figures demonstrate her worldliness, her fascination with fame, and her relish of rumor.

She was also never more than one degree of separation away from royalty. To know from a local historian’s website that the young Prince of Wales lived near Steventon, Austen’s home, was to understand why she created so many satiric avatars of him. Austen was a patriot, and the prince was endangering the nation. She attacked him in the only way she could, obliquely, through her characters and plots. In Northanger Abbey, for instance, the unlovely John Thorpe lies, boasts, swears, looks, and behaves as badly as Prince George. A “stout young man of middling height,” with a “plain face and ungraceful form,” Thorpe utters “a short decisive sentence of praise or condemnation on the face of every woman they met.”

Austen attacks the prince yet again in Mansfield Park’s Henry Crawford, a man marked like him by caprice and unsteadiness. Crawford indulges in the “freaks of a cold-blooded vanity,” and rids himself of his money and leisure “at the idlest haunts in the kingdom.” In Persuasion, she criticizes Sir Walter Elliot’s status and power, as unearned as the regent’s, and praises Captain Wentworth’s merit and courage. Austen’s lacerating portraits suggest first-hand knowledge of the prince’s vulgar, voyeuristic, and self-indulgent ways.

BUP: Considering again the study of place, if Austen had lived during this day and age, who do you think her subjects for inspiration might have been?  How do you think the world would have reacted to her wit, humor, and criticism?

JH: A Regency woman in a golden age of satire, Austen attacked the Prince of Wales for his much-lampooned appearance, his lewdness, his vanity, his instability, his outrageous spending, his tremendous debts, his desire for absolute power, his implicit treason, his fondness for over-the-top building ventures, and his embarrassing braggadocio. Even court insiders warned that the prince was not fit to be king, and Austen wrote that she hated him. The current resurgence of political satire in social media, newspapers, and cartoons would have delighted this savvy, progressive, and thoroughly modern woman.

BUP: Satire, Celebrity, and Politics being your third book on Jane Austen, how has your research evolved regarding your interest in her life and writing? Are there any questions that still need to be answered? What will you do next?

JH: I only want to know how Jane Austen did it (only!). In Jane Austen’s Art of Memory (Cambridge University Press, 1989), I followed the turns of her mind as she picked up elements from other writers and made them into her own. Undeterred by being a woman, she took whatever she wanted from anywhere.

In A Revolution Almost Beyond Expression: Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” (University of Delaware Press, 2007), I traced her creative process in the only manuscript to survive from her published novels. In the cancelled chapters of Persuasion, she deletes, interlineates, writes new material in the margins, and sticks on a scrap with a wax wafer. Eight days later, she threw all that away, and wrote some of the most remarkable scenes in her work––the last chapters of Persuasion.  She was indeed a true professional.

At a time of hardship, inequality, and war, Austen wrote, “How much are the Poor to be pitied, and the Rich to be blamed.” In Persuasion, she attacks the class hierarchies propping up the society of her day. In a highly subversive move, she sets Sir Walter Elliot’s Baronetage against Captain Wentworth’s Navy List, pride of birth against pride of accomplishment. The aging patriarch of the Elliots cannot compete with the glamorous young Captain Wentworth, who derives from real-life heroes such as Lord Nelson, Lord Byron, and Captain Cook. So too, in this brave new world of energy and achievement, the faded beauty of Bath gives way to the Romantic sublimity of Lyme Regis. In this eloquent novel about second chances, Anne Elliot finds a fragile happiness.

Jane Austen is quite simply inexhaustible. I’m writing about her relationship to Madame de Staël, the foremost woman genius of the age; the London locations where she could have seen contemporary cartoons; and her continual fascination with Fanny Burney. There is always more to find out about this extraordinary woman.

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For more information on Austen, take a look at Harris’ latest book Satire, Celebrity, and Politics in Jane Austen. To order visit http://www.rowman.com or call 1-800-462-6420. Use code “UP30AUTH17” to save 30% on the list price (not valid on eBook).

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c2017, Jane Austen Vermont, reblogged from Bucknell University Press