A must-read review! A must-read book! Professor Moore spoke at the JASNA AGM in Williamsburg, an insightful, eye-opening talk on Jane Austen’s knowledge of the dissolution of the monasteries and how she weaves this into her novels:
You are Cordially Invited to
JASNA-Vermont’s September Meeting
Liz Philosophos Cooper
[image: Jane Austen’s writing table at the Jane Austen House Museum]
Jane Austen was a working woman and a determined professional writer. This illustrated talk will explore Austen’s involvement in the business of publishing novels during a time of rampant financial instability. The Austen family were active participants in both war and finance and these two sectors intertwined in the story of Jane Austen’s writing and publishing.
Sunday, 15 September 2019, 2-4 pm
Temple Sinai, 500 Swift St., South Burlington
(Corner of Swift and Dorset)
Liz Philosophos Cooper is the President of JASNA. Liz is a second-generation JASNA member who fell in love with Austen’s work as a high school student. A member since 1992, she has actively participated in local JASNA activities, served as JASNA’s Vice-President for Regions from 2013-2018, and was Regional Coordinator of Wisconsin prior to that. A popular speaker, she is a contributing writer to Jane Austen’s Regency World and co-edits the A Year with Jane Austen calendar. Her talk from the Washington DC JASNA Annual General Meeting, “The Apothecary and the Physician: Emma’s Mr. Perry” was published in Persuasions 38.
Liz holds a BA (Communication Arts) from the University of Wisconsin. She worked in marketing before taking time off to raise four sons. Literature has always been a part of Liz’s life: she began a Village book group in 1986 that is still going strong, and a Junior Great Books reading program at the local elementary school. She has been an active volunteer in the community, including serving as President of the Village of Shorewood Hills Foundation for many years.
~ Free & open to the public ~ Light refreshments served ~
Hope to see you there!
Upcoming meeting December 8, Annual Birthday Tea: “What did she say? – Just what she ought…”: Proposals in Jane Austen with Hope Greenberg & Deb Barnum (and film clips!). Plus, dancing with Val Medve and the Burlington Country Dancers, and a Full English Tea at the Essex Resort and Spa. Click here for the Dec Tea 2019-Reservation form-NEW: Deadline for registering and payment is September 20, 2019.
Dear Janeites and Other Readers: I welcome today Tony Grant. He has just read Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and asked if I would post his review. Tony for a time wrote a blog on Virginia Woolf called “The Novels of Virginia Woolf” – he is hoping to do more on there now that he is re-inspired! There are endless resources out there on Woolf (see below for a few links), but here Tony is giving his personal view of what he learned in reading A Room of One’s Own, and how it relates to Jane Austen.
“Virginia Woolf Made a Reference to Jane Austen,”
by Tony Grant.
A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN by Virginia Woolf was first published in 1929. Woolf was invited in 1928 to give a talk to the female undergraduates at Girton College, Cambridge on the theme of women and fiction. She came up with the title for her talk as, A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN. The premise of her argument was that women needed a room of their own and time to write, provided by an independent income. Virginia Woolf suggested £500 a year.
Coincidently that was the same amount that an Aunt, who died in India, left Virginia Woolf in her will, allowing her to be independent of her husband. She was allowed time to think and write without the constraints of the straight jacket of wife, mother, and organizer of a great man’s home. She could afford a room of her own in which to write undisturbed. She argued that women writers in history had been far and few between because of the restrictions a patriarchal society put on them, a society that actively discouraged, insulted, and humiliated women’s abilities. Men thought that women were not capable of writing great fiction or write intelligently on any subject.
She references Aphra Behn, a playwright, poet and translator who lived in the 17th century, as the first woman writer to make money from writing. She goes on to explain that later in the 18th and 19th centuries, Jane Austen, The Brontës and George Elliot began to show what brilliant writers women can be, even if hidden behind anonymity or male pseudonyms. These few, early, great women writers were however, limited in their scope by their circumstances. Virginia Woolf’s hope is that a “Shakespeare’s Sister,” will emerge one day.
We are introduced to Mary Beton, her aunt who left Virginia the £500 per year inheritance and provided the means for her to become a writer; Mary Seton, a wife and mother who is constrained by her circumstances and has no chance of becoming a writer; Mary Carmichael, an author who does not write particularly well – her sentence structures are not those of Jane Austen, from whom she should have learned, but nonetheless begins to write about women in an extraordinary way from a woman’s perspective and begins to portray the subtleties of womanhood uninfluenced by a patriarchal society. These three characters represent three aspects of the lives of women.
Virginia Woolf argues that intellectual freedom depends upon the possession of material things (a room of one’s own and £500 per year), a good education and well-connected families. She thinks the education the poor receive will not raise them to equality with the upper levels of society. She decries that they will have no chance of their voice being heard. Women’s lives and the poor in society are a downtrodden second class group.
Nowadays there is a sort of worship and fan cult associated with Jane Austen. Virginia Woolf would be bemused and not understand this I think. Austen is a great writer, especially in exploring the relationships between men and women which is acutely highlighted in her writing because of the patriarchy of the 18th and 19th centuries.
But because of the constraints placed on by the male members of her family, no “room of her own,” and no independent income, Austen’s world was a very narrow world of drawing rooms. There was not enough global experience of women writers and women in other aspects of society, equal to that of men’s for Austen to build on. She was and is impressive for what she achieved, but she had her limitations. Austen was timid and protective about her writing. She didn’t experience life outside of a strict set of patriarchal boundaries. It does seem extraordinary nowadays there is so much fuss over her.
The aim for women writers, in the words of Virginia Woolf, is to become “Shakespeare’s Sister.” It must be said that Shakespeare did not have a sister as far as we know. What Virginia Woolf means is that in her view Shakespeare was the greatest male writer. He had the perfect balance of the “male-female” brain, creative and fertile with ideas derived from a wide experience of the world, male histories, male experiences and male writing through the centuries. If Shakespeare’s Sister had been able to become the female version of her brother, employing the “female male” brain alongside a wealth of women’s experiences in writing and society, we would have a female writer of equal brilliance and scope.
Virginia Woolf’s presentation to the Girton Undergraduates is nothing if not meant to encourage them all to become writers, not just of fiction but scientific treatises, histories, biographies, poetry, and more besides, because as Woolf states “books talk to books,” and with a rich history of women’s writing to draw on this “Shakespeare’s Sister” can finally emerge.
Jane Austen was a step along the way to the emergence of this “Shakespeare’s Sister.” Mary Carmichael, perhaps a pseudonym for Virginia Woolf herself, represents another important step along the way. They are only steps.
“Be yourself” is a slogan Virginia Woolf leaves her young female audience with. She describes what women need to do to become writers and become themselves: “They need to build their ideas and thoughts on those of other women.” She points out how near impossible it is to achieve that without an immense struggle and everyone doing their bit. Even ninety years later, Virginia Woolf’s treatise has a freshness about it.
Thank you Tony for sharing your thoughts on Woolf and Austen! You can visit Tony’s regular blog “London Calling” here: http://general-southerner.blogspot.com/
Would love to hear your thoughts on A Room of One’s Own – do you think Woolf’s ideas remain relevant today? Do you agree that there was a dearth of women’s writing because of the patriarchal society and its subjugation of women? Since Woolf’s time there has been an ongoing effort to re-discover the early women writers that have been long forgotten, also a result of that subjugation, and many of these Woolf would have known nothing about. [You can visit the Library at Chawton House to read about many of these early authors: https://chawtonhouse.org/ – and especially the biographies and online novels].
Woolf references Austen in more than just A Room of One’s Own – she refers to Austen in many of her writings, and wrote several full-length essays – here are two.
- “Jane Austen” in The Common Reader (1925): http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0300031h.html#C11
- Woolf’s review of R. W. Chapman’s 1923 edition of Austen’s novels at The New Republic (1924): https://newrepublic.com/article/115922/virginia-woolf-jane-austen
For some commentary on Woolf’s opinion of Austen, see:
- This essay in Persuasions 12 (1990) by Judith Lee on Woolf reading Austen: http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/printed/number12/lee.htm
- Another essay in Persuasions On-Line 29.1 (2008) by Emily Auerbach, “The Geese vs. the “Niminy Piminy Spinster”: Virginia Woolf Defends Jane Austen”: http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol29no1/auerbach.html
I could go on… – there’s a veritable goldmine of information on Woolf and Austen out there!
- Virginia Woolf at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Woolf
- Virginia Woolf bibliography at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Woolf_bibliography
- Blogging Woolf (terrific blog): https://bloggingwoolf.wordpress.com/
- Monk’s House, Rodmell, East Sussex: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/monks-house
- Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain – many links on their “Useful Links” page: http://www.virginiawoolfsociety.org.uk/
- International Virginia Woolf Society: http://sites.utoronto.ca/IVWS/
[Images from Tony Grant]
c2019 Jane Austen in Vermont
You are Cordially Invited to JASNA-Vermont’s June Meeting
Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer
“Jane Austen and Autistic Spectrum Disorders:
Re-examining some of her characters’ challenges with conversation,
empathy and social interaction from a 21st century perspective”
Sunday, 9 June 2019, 2-4 pm
Fletcher Free Library, Community Room*
235 College St, Burlington VT
With a degree in speech language pathology from McGill University, Phyllis Fergusson Bottomer has had a long career working with children and adults with communication challenges. A longtime reader of Jane Austen, she has used her professional knowledge to view some of Austen’s most puzzling characters through this lens of social and communication impairment. Her book So Odd a Mixture: Along the Autistic Spectrum in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (2007) brought this topic to the fore, and she has travelled the world over to give talks at various Austen society groups and conferences. Active in JASNA as a Board member, Chair of the JASNA Grants Committee, and many years as Regional Coordinator for the Vancouver Region, Phyllis also (along with her husband) has become enamored of English Country Dance and they travel as “dance gypsies” to balls and week-long dance camps all over the continent (and why she is here in Vermont!)
~ Free & open to the public ~ ~ Light refreshments served ~
For more information: JASNAVTregion [at] gmail [dot] com
Please visit our blog at: http://JaneAustenInVermont.blog
Hope you can join us!
* If there is no available parking at the Library or on surrounding streets, please note that parking is free on Sunday in the parking garage on Cherry St, a short walk to the Library.
Upcoming 2019 meetings:
Aug 4: Field trip to the DAR John Strong Mansion, Addison, VT
Sept 15: JASNA President Liz Philosophos Cooper on “Jane Austen, Working Woman”
Dec 8: Annual Birthday Tea: “What did she say? – Just what she ought…” ~ Proposals in Jane Austen” with Hope Greenberg & Deb Barnum + Dancing with Val Medve and the Burlington Country Dancers
c2019 Jane Austen in Vermont
Dear Healthy Readers: I welcome today Bryan Kozlowski, author of The Jane Austen Diet: Austen’s Secrets to Food, Health, and Incandescent Happiness – he joins us here to answer a few questions about his book, why he wrote it, how long he’s been a reader of Jane Austen, and when he discovered she had all these things to say about nutrition and health. Joceline Bury, the book reviewer for Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine calls it “a delectable salmagundy or culinary history, illuminating quotes, dietary science and intriguing recipes – it made this gourmand’s heart sing. Delicious in every way.”
When did you first start to realize that Austen’s work contained these words of wisdom about wellness?
Very unexpectedly. Looking back, Jane and I had always been in a very superficial relationship. Begging her polite pardon, I never viewed her beyond anything other than a pure romance writer, always good for a giggle over the newest rich gent in the neighborhood, but not exactly influential to everyday life. If anything, Austen was just a bosom buddy I turned to for distraction from modern life, never realizing she held one of its biggest solutions. Yet that all changed rather quickly two years ago. Nearing my 30th birthday and in the midst of a personal wellness quandary (wondering, among other things, whatever happened to the energy levels of my roaring twenties), I delved into the latest health books for answers. That’s when it happened. Reading the “newest” research on eating, exercise, and holistic living felt very familiar, like literary déjà vu. Hadn’t I come across these exact insights before in Austen’s novels? Hadn’t she said the same thing, espoused nearly identical lifestyle advice, over two-hundred years ago? It all looked amazingly similar to the way her healthiest characters eat, stay fit, and interact with nature. The discovery led me to health maxims in Austen’s writings I never knew existed, which revealed a side to this famous English spinster rarely, if ever, discussed. Here was a woman just as interested in persuading her readers to live a healthier life as she was inspiring them to fall in love. Plainly, Austen wanted to take my relationship with her to the next level. So I took the plunge, deciding to test out her unique health strategies for myself (rather secretly, at first – one doesn’t announce to the world that one is going on the Jane Austen “diet,” does one?) It was a personal guinea-pig project that – shockingly – was not only suitable to the 21st century, the elegance of embracing “health and happiness” like a true Austenite is one that I now heartily announce to anyone in sore need of adding back some civility and sense to their own modern health routine.
You’re not a health professional. Do you intend for people to actually follow this plan? Is it a serious contribution to the wellness space?
Quite right. It’s something I discuss upfront in the book: that neither am I nor was Austen a doctor (or apothecary, rather!). Austen was, however, one of the most brilliant observers of human nature, and devoted her literary life to finding out what makes people happier and healthier both in mind and body. For this reason, Austen is often considered one of the best “didactic” novelists, meaning she made it her mission to inspire us – no matter the century – to live a better life. And just like she didn’t need to get married herself to understand the nuances of love, she didn’t need a medical degree to accurately grasp what our bodies need to thrive – the evidence is all in her novels. In fact, the health advice scattered throughout her writing continues to be so timeless today because it was based on organic observation, not on shifting fashions or fads. She knew what naturally worked for our bodies and what didn’t, which is why her wellness philosophies find such resounding support from the latest health research. Moreover, it’s important to remember that Austen lived in an age that faced health challenges nearly identical to the ones we grapple with today. The Regency era had its own mini obesity epidemic, movement crises, and trendy starvation diets to contend with. Yet in her own clever way, Austen chose to respond (never bluntly) but with subtle, counterculture clues woven throughout her fiction: clues meant to gently motivate us to better alternatives. And I, for one, am so grateful she did.
Austen would probably get a merry kick out of my attempt to answer this, as her health code purposefully defies any attempt at tidy condensing. But if possible to boil down, you could say that it’s built on one refreshing reminder – that “health” is far more holistic than most of us have been conditioned to view it today (that is, as an isolated number on a scale, BMI chart, food plan, fitness strategy, or dress size). As a matter of fact, weight hardly mattered to Jane at all, who progressively considered excessive thinness, not fatness, as a much more serious risk to health. There are corpulent characters in her novels, of course, who could certainly loose a few pounds, but Austen chose to widen the lens and focus instead on what she calls the “complete” “picture of health” throughout her fiction. In short, Austen’s healthiest characters never have just one defining attribute that makes them “lovely, blooming, [and] healthful” but a sweeping range of interconnected lifestyle habits and patterns that keep them effortlessly “in health” from tip to toe: from their relationship to food and exercise, to their interactions with nature, to how they think and feel about their bodies. Your corset size mattered far less to Jane than how you laced up the rest of your life.
Which of Austen’s heroines lives the healthiest life, and why?
What I love about Austen’s approach to wellness is its firm footing in reality – that is, none of her heroines start their stories as perfect paradigms of health. Everybody has something to learn. Anne Elliot begins Persuasion “faded” and frumpy and Marianne Dashwood certainly has some hard health lessons ahead of her in Sense and Sensibility. But if any heroine could be said to have a head start on the rest, I believe it would be Lizzie Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. If nothing more than the fact that she begins the novel completely comfortable in her own skin. So much so, she instantly laughs off Mr. Darcy’s infamous body-shaming snark (“he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form”). And that alone was incredibly important to Austen, an early promoter of body positivity. Because becoming healthy in Austenworld truly begins in your mind, where the quality of your relationship to food, fitness, and even your reflection in the mirror will greatly depend on how you think about those things. Still incredibly important today, these are the mental “exercises” that set apart the body healthy from the body harmful in Austen’s novels. As Fanny Price insists in Mansfield Park, “that would be exercise only to my body, and I must take care of my mind.”
What is the most surprising/useful habit that those living in Austen’s era abided by for health?
The most surprising aspect of Austen’s wellness program is her insistence that a healthy diet includes far more than just food – that it relies on a daily dose of nature, too. Things like fresh air, sunlight, trees, good clean dirt and sea breezes are practically treated like vitamins in her fiction, routinely prescribed to any character in need of a body reboot. And though I used to (shamefully) think Austen had gone a wee bit too far with her love for nature – note Lizzie in Pride and Prejudice, at one point, prefers “rocks and mountains” to actual men – thanks to new and growing support from modern science, it is now an essential part of my own wellness walk with Jane, and one I cannot live without.
Bryan Kozlowski is a passionate champion of “lit wit” – bringing the wisdom of classic literature into everyday life. From Jane Austen to Charles Dickens to children’s cookbooks, his books celebrate the modern magic of living literarily. His works have appeared in Vogue, the New York Times and the Washington Post. He graduated valedictorian from The Culinary Institute of America in New York, where he fell in love with British food history, and interned at Saveur food magazine before setting off on the writing path.
About the book:
Bryan Kozlowski, The Jane Austen Diet: Austen’s Secrets to Food, Health, and Incandescent Happiness
Turner Publishing, 2019
Paperback: 304 pages
- On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Austen-Diet-Incandescent-Happiness
- See this article at Cooking Light: https://www.cookinglight.com/news/jane-austen-diet
If you have any questions for Bryan, please comment below.
Thank you Bryan for sharing your new book with us! I am heading out now for my daily walk knowing Jane would heartily approve!
c2019 Jane Austen in Vermont
April 23 – Today is the day Shakespeare died in 1616, (he may have also been born on this day – he was baptized on April 26, 1564) so let’s begin with the recent research into Shakespeare’s exact location in London: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/apr/13/shakespeare-plays-possibly-inspired-by-london-neighbours
“23 April is a symbolic date in world literature. It is the date on which several prominent authors, William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. This date was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a worldwide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone to access books – most beautiful invention for sharing ideas beyond the boundaries of humanity space and time as well as the most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building.”
Celebrate by visiting your local bookstore!
Charlotte Bronte’s hair has been found in a ring on Antiques Road Show: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/17/charlotte-bronte-hair-ring-antiques-roadshow-bronte-society-braid-1855
This is a look back at how the Cathedral of Notre-Dame has been portrayed in art through the ages: https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/the-notre-dame-cathedral-in-art-1460-1921/
Quite the collection of British Book Illustration at the Folger – see here for all the searchable images: https://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/FOLGER~2~2
A few things to add to your already overburdened reading list: Twelve of the most important books for women in philosophy – a reading list of books that explore recent feminist philosophy and women philosophers: https://blog.oup.com/2019/04/12-most-important-books-women-philosophy/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=oupblog
Sophie de Grouchy. Letters on Sympathy: A Critical Engagement with Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
Published in 1798 in French, now here translated.
In case you are in need of some new reading material, the whole of the 2 volumes of the Mueller Report are available for free online (you DON’T need to buy it from Amazon): Notice all the redacted data…. https://www.justice.gov/storage/report.pdf
Apparently Pride & Prejudice made this art mural bookcase in Utrecht – can you find it?? http://www.openculture.com/2019/04/street-art-for-book-lovers.html
Are you a Hoarding Bibliophile who doesn’t want to declutter your bookshelves via the Marie Kondo directive?? Here are a few people who just cannot let go: (and I am happy to find some soulmates!) https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/marie-kondo-bibliophiles-books-decluttering-tidying-a8864926.html
UCLA will be hosting a Marathon Reading of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale on May 9-10 – for a full 24 hours – read about it here on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exDvztcgJpo&app=desktop
And here on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/233607600848307/
Octavia Butler’s “Earthseed Series” will also be part of the reading.
Into Absolut Vodka? You can bid on the various artist-rendered lithographs here: live bidding starts today!
The Modern Library is launching a new trade paperback book series, Modern Library Torchbearers, that will “honor a more inclusive vision of classic books” by “recognizing women who wrote on their own terms, with boldness, creativity, and a spirit of resistance.” The books, all previously published, will be repackaged, and each will be introduced by a contemporary woman writer. The inaugural list for the series features:
- American Indian Stories by Zitkála-Sá, with an introduction by Layli Long Soldier (May 21)
- The Heads of Cerberus by Francis Stevens, with an introduction by Naomi Alderman (May 21)
- Passing by Nella Larsen, with an introduction by Kaitlyn Greenidge (May 21)
- The Awakening by Kate Chopin, with an introduction by Carmen Maria Machado (June 18)
- Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, with an introduction by Flynn Berry (June 18)
- Villette by Charlotte Brontë, with an introduction by Weike Wang (June 18)
I can honestly say that the only thing I really have a fancy for that one might call over-the-top decorative arts are the stunning Faberge eggs – I’ve seen them in museums over the years and two years ago at the best place of all at The Hermitage – so here in celebration of Easter is a nicely done history from Barnaby’s: https://www.barnebys.com/blog/in-celebration-of-easter-we-look-back-on-the-history/
And finally, more for your book pile: here is a great story about a judge and her “punishments” for young offenders and the reading list she gave them all to choose from – everybody should read all these books – the world would improve immensely…https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/04/this-is-what-happened-when-a-us-judge-sentenced-teenage-vandals-to-read-books
Happy internet surfing all!
what have been your favorites this past week?
c2019 Jane Austen in Vermont