Links: January 2017 — Catch-up Edition

During my long hiatus from blogging here, I read a lot of posts about Mansfield Park. Here is a collection of them:

Jane Austen’s Microcosm: Grumpy husbands, silly wives, and schemes of happiness: real marriages in Jane Austen’s novels; By Monica Descalzi

— A discussion of marriages in Jane Austen’s novels. Mrs. Grant features amongst the array.

Jane Austen’s Microcosm: Nine children and a very small income: How poor are the Prices?; By Monica Descalzi

— About the Prices’ lifestyle. Although they aren’t about Mansfield Park, here are a couple more interesting articles from the same blog: ‘Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint’ and ‘Lady Novelists: Anna Lefroy’s and Charlotte Brontë’s opinions of Emma’.

Miranda Writes: In Defense of Fanny Price; By mirhawk13

— “It is difficult for rectitude of mind to survive in a setting where it is continually downtrodden. Strength of mind and strength of conviction are both necessary to the survival of principle. In a setting where one’s values and ideals are constantly being reaffirmed and upheld by one’s companions, it’s easy to hang on to those values.”

The Guardian: Move over Lizzie Bennet – let’s hear it for the unsung heroine; By John Mullan, et al.

— “Yet in creating a heroine condemned to suffer in secret and powerlessly to watch the follies of others, Austen managed something as audacious as the invention of Elizabeth Bennet.”

Femnista: The Vanity of Mrs. Norris; By Lianne M. Bernardo

— “She may not possess nefarious magical powers used for ill. She may not live in an eerie castle or have a deadly criminal past. Her goal in life is not world domination. But …”

The Spindle of Necessity: What can Jane Austen show us about the 21st Century?; By Christopher Sanderson

— “Today, it seems as if human emotion is a mere shadow of what it once was in Austen’s time.”

Wuthering Expectations: Why is Mansfield Park Jane Austen’s best book?; By Amateur Reader (Tom)

— “Characters in Pride and Prejudice talk about each other; characters in Mansfield Park talk about apricots, cream cheeses, necklaces, whether the turkey needs to be cooked tonight, horses, who gets to sit in which seat of the carriage, and which child gets to play with the knife.”

Lady Disdain Notes: Austen & Me, Then & Now; By Lady Disdain

— This one doesn’t actually have a whole lot about Mansfield Park in particular, but the comparison of the author’s initial and current perspectives on Jane Austen’s novels was intriguing.

The Telegraph: Susanna Clarke introduces her choice for December: ‘Mansfield Park’ by Jane Austen; By Susanna Clarke

— I found this article by Susanna Clarke (known as the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) after reading the post ‘Subversive Heroines’ on Old-Fashioned Fruitcake by Deborah Markarios.

The Curious Archaeologist: Reconstructing the Regency — The Red Books of Humphry Repton; By gordon759

— This article includes some before and after pictures of Humphry Repton’s work. Repton is the real-life landscape gardener mentioned in Mansfield Park.

Girl with Whimsy: Current Read: Mansfield Park; By Marie

— Someone just starting to read Mansfield Park. She continued on to write ‘Character Study: Fanny Price’, ‘What Jane’s Novels Are Made Of (According to One Geeky Reviewer)’, and ‘Things Jane Taught Me’. (Here’s another interesting one, though it doesn’t mention Mansfield Park: ‘Controversial Characters: Emma Woodhouse’.)

Bookheathen’s Right to Read: Mansfield Park; By Bookheathen

— “It is a story about people, about their merits and flaws, and about how they react to society’s claims on them.”

Stories from the Past: Falling for Fanny – Guest post by Leenie Brown

— About adoption and gratitude.

Rather Mundane: Mansfield Park; By JDANM

— “[H]ave any of you read Mansfield Park and (which is the rarity) enjoyed the novel and liked the heroine, Fanny Price?”

My Journal of Imaginary People: Mansfield Park and Good Villains; By hellmouthtvreview

— “I loved the book, most of all, for its villains.”

The little white attic: Fanny and Anne & Reading, misreading Mansfield Park; By Di

— Two articles about Fanny Price and Mansfield Park. The second one links to several more posts the author has written about Mansfield Park.

Sarah Emsley ~ writer & editor: Fanny Price, Mind Reader & Fanny Price as a Student of Shakespeare; By Joyce Tarpley & John Baxter respectively

— Two posts from Sarah Emsley’s celebration of Mansfield Park’s bicentennial.

Kimberly Truesdale: A Modern “Mansfield Park” in “Holidays With Jane: Spring Fever”; By Kim

— A bit about the author’s retelling of Mansfield Park, along with a bit about her inspiration.

Book Perfume: Jane Austen’s Rascals: Ranked; By Stephanie Burns

— Henry Crawford makes a list of Jane Austen’s rogues and rascals.

Lizzy Reads Books: In defense of Mansfield Park; By Lizzy

— A recommendation of Mansfield Park.

Jane Austen's Signature

Disclaimer: I do not necessarily endorse or agree with everything contained in these posts (or the blogs that they are on). I have linked to them to them simply because I enjoyed reading them or found them otherwise interesting.

Links: December 2016

Here are some articles that I have read over the past months and found interesting. Enjoy!

The purposes of women’s education: a look at Mansfield Park and Emma (Blog: Jane Austen’s Microcosm)

Falling for Fanny (Blog: Stories from the Past)

Let’s All Give Edmund Bertram a Break (Blog: janeaustenandcompany)

In Defense of Fanny Price: Why You Don’t Like Mansfield Park as Much as You Should (Blog: Carrots for Michaelmas)

In Defense of Fanny Price (Blog: The little white attic)

Jane Austen's Signature

Disclaimer: I do not necessarily endorse or agree with everything contained in these posts (or the blogs that they are on). I have linked to them to them simply because I enjoyed reading them or found them otherwise interesting.

She is to be Jenny

349px-janeaustensilhouette-svgDear Sister, — You have doubtless been for some time in expectation of hearing from Hampshire, and perhaps wondered a little we were in our old age grown such bad reckoners, but so it was, for Cassy certainly expected to have been brought to bed a month ago; however, last night the time came, and without a great deal of warning, everything was soon happily over. We have now another girl, a present plaything for her sister Cassy, and a future companion. She is to be Jenny …” — George Austen (Jane’s father), Steventon, December 17, 1775.

Today is Jane Austen’s 241st birthday! It has been a long time since I posted anything here — two years since I posted at all regularly. I have been planning to revive this blog with some sporadic posts, and what better occasion to begin than Jane Austen’s birthday? I don’t plan on posting very often, but I hope to at least keep up with collecting links to articles on Mansfield Park I have read and found interesting.

Emma’s Holiday Bicentennial

“[I]t was a very great event that Mr. Woodhouse should dine out,
on the 24th of December” (ch. 13).

Emma - Hugh Thomson - “Toss them up to the ceiling”On December 23, 1815, Jane Austen’s fourth novel, Emma, was published. Today is its two-hundredth birthday! It is appropriate that it was published during December, as events surrounding the Christmas season are an integral part of the story.

Mr. Elton’s unwelcome proposal to Emma takes place on Christmas Eve, resulting in Emma realizing the dangers of matchmaking. Emma’s sister, Isabella (Mrs. John Knightley), visits with her family over the season, and Emma enjoys being confined to the house with them because of some Christmas snow. Isabella’s husband gives his delightful tirade against holiday engagements on the way to a party at Randalls. When they were all returned safely to Hartfield, Mr. Wodehouse and Isabella enjoyed a bowl of gruel together.

Emma - C. E. Brock - “You and I will have nice basin of gruel together”There could hardly be a happier creature in the world than Mrs. John Knightley, in this short visit to Hartfield, going about every morning among her old acquaintance with her five children, and talking over what she had done every evening with her father and sister. She had nothing to wish otherwise, but that the days did not pass so swiftly. It was a delightful visit;—perfect, in being much too short. (ch. 13)

So, here’s wishing everyone a delightful time visiting with family — sans traveling in bad weather or being subjected to bowls of gruel — and celebrating Emma’s bicentennial!

Austen’s Opposites

This is eighth (and last) in a series of guest posts written by “Sophie” of A Reasonable Quantity of Butter in celebration of Mansfield Park’s bicentennial.

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As an admirer of Jane Austen, I am fascinated by her ability to expand her skills as a writer. In each novel, without varying her exquisite prose style, she set a new challenge for herself.

Austen's Opposites 1After writing the sparkling and satirical Pride and Prejudice, she determined to write something more serious. In Mansfield Park, she designed away all sparkle from her hero and heroine. Neither Edmund nor Fanny are witty, nor do either possess brilliant accomplishments or buoyant spirits. Instead of writing comedy, Austen turned to tragedy. What many readers complain of in Mansfield Park, I see as Austen’s genius.

Some readers also complain of Austen’s next novel, Emma. Although happy that Austen returned to comedy, they bemoan the story’s lack of action. “Nothing happens!”, they exclaim. The marriages in the book all cement the couples in their former stations. (Even Jane Fairfax’s marriage enables her to stay in the station in which she had been raised.) Every scene takes place in Highbury, whence the heroine has famously never traveled!

Austen's Opposites 2In contrast, Mansfield Park is overflowing with action. The characters are constantly coming and going. The young people explore Sotherton and act a play. Every few chapters something changes. And at the end, everything is shaken up from what it could likely have been from the beginning.

I think this busyness explains the monotony of Emma. Austen wanted to try something new. What if she wrote a story in which nothing really happened?

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Illustrations by Hugh Thomson of Dr. Grant and Fanny Price in Mansfield Park and Mr. Weston, Miss Taylor, and Emma Woodhouse in Emma.

Happily Ever After

This is seventh in a series of guest posts written by “Sophie” of A Reasonable Quantity of Butter in celebration of Mansfield Park’s bicentennial.

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Squashed into the epilogue of ‘Mansfield Park’ is the marriage of Edmund and Fanny. Although Fanny’s and Edmund’s romance is quite bland in comparison with the excitement in the rest of the novel, I think the couple had an excellent chance of achieving a “happily ever after”. They shared an attitude and philosophy of life as well as interests and pastimes. This, combined with mutual trust, could create a solid base for their life together.

Happily Ever AfterBeyond this, their marriage could strengthen both Edmund and Fanny individually. Because Fanny fully supported Edmund’s career, Edmund could gain confidence in his work. As Fanny was not accustomed to expensive gaieties and luxuries she would not weigh him down with discontent.

For Fanny, marriage to Edmund meant taking on a high position in a new community. As  the wife of a clergyman, her duties of hospitality and charity could help her develop confidence and authority, especially practiced among strangers.

I imagine Fanny and Edmund star-gazing, reading, visiting the poor, and raising children together. What reasons do you think would make them a happy couple?

Misguided Concealment

This is sixth in a series of guest posts written by “Sophie” of A Reasonable Quantity of Butter in celebration of Mansfield Park’s bicentennial.

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In many novels, much of the drama revolves around a concealment. These passages are especially irksome because great harm often comes from the concealment, and it would be so simple for the informed character to say something and avert the catastrophe.

Often these concealments arise from some romantic fancy. In Far From the Madding Crowd, Gabriel Oak conceals Sergeant Troy’s former relationship from Bathsheba out of a mistaken sense of obligation to Fanny Robin. In Bleak House, Lady Dedlock conceals her past from her husband, even though speaking out would completely disarm her enemy, because she fears losing her husband’s esteem. Other characters feel that it would be wrong to speak ill of someone, even when not speaking injures another person—a person who really has a right to know.

Whereas I have come to expect misguided concealments in novels such as those by Dickens and Hardy, I was surprised to meet one in Mansfield Park.1 Happily, it has no effect on the outcome of the story, but it is still there!

Fanny Price keeps important information from Edmund. As Edmund’s only confidant, she knows that, although he is deeply in love with Mary Crawford, several things would keep him from proposing to her: Mary’s love of money, love of prestige, and contempt for Edmund’s profession. In fact, these did at one point decide Edmund against marrying her. After his ordination, he purposely stayed away from Mansfield to avoid seeing Mary, intending to return only after she left.

Fanny is uncertain as to how much Mary’s fondness for Edmund may have overcome her worldly notions, and she must, in any case, leave Edmund to his own judgment. What good would it do to convey doubts and suspicions to a mind accustomed to excusing them? And what right had she to do so—would it not be only indulging her own envy?

But while in Portsmouth, Fanny receives confirmation of her fears in writing from Mary.2 There, in Mary’s own handwriting, is evidence that she loves money and position in society to the point of wishing Edmund’s brother dead, and looks forward to Edmund’s profession being concealed as a past disgrace!

Despite any attending awkwardness, I think Fanny should have forwarded Mary’s letter to Edmund. He had a right to know.

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1There is a misguided concealment in Emma, which is crucial to the plot, but Austen handles it much differently than the other authors mentioned. Also, in Pride and Prejudice, Jane and Elizabeth choose not to publish Wickham’s true character because he is leaving soon.

2“Poor young man! If he is to die, there will be two poor young men less in the world; and with a fearless face and bold voice would I say to any one, that wealth and consequence could fall into no hands more deserving of them. It was a foolish precipitation last Christmas [Edmund’s ordination], but the evil of a few days may be blotted out in part. Varnish and gilding hide many stains. It will be but the loss of the Esquire after his name. With real affection, Fanny, like mine, more might be overlooked.”—Mansfield Park, Chapter XLV