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“Perfect Happiness” on Viewing Four Jane Austen First Editions

A few members of our region had the good fortune to visit the Washington State University (WSU) Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC) room in the library to view four first editions of Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion.  A WSU alum, Lorraine (Kure) Hanaway recently left the first editions to WSU in her will (https://news.wsu.edu/2021/06/07/first-edition-jane-austen-novels-added-wsu-libraries-collection/).  Lorraine was one of the founding members of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) and was a member of the Eastern Pennsylvania region (http://jasna.org/publications-2/persuasions-online/vol-41-no-1/memorium-hanaway/). Dr. Trevor Bond, Associate Dean for Digital Initiative and Special Collections, and Greg Matthews, Special Collections Librarian at MASC, were our guides for the viewing and arranged all the books that we saw.  I think two themes that shape my reflections on seeing the first editions are:  the importance of preserving and understanding Jane Austen’s early editions and the joy of finding your “small band of true friends” who love Austen. 

Preserving and Understanding Jane Austen’s Early Editions

It seems centrally important to understanding Austen’s works to maintain the volume structure of the novels.  The three volumes structure clearly organizes the novels that were published during Austen’s lifetime.  (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published posthumously each as two volumes of a four-volume set so we can’t be sure of author intent in terms of volumes.)  For example, in Mansfield Park at the end of Volume I, the volume ends quite dramatically when Sir Thomas comes home, and his return is announced to those rehearsing the play by an aghast Julia.  While most recent edited editions of the novels preserve the three (or two) volume structure, it is wonderful to actually see the three volumes and think about what it must have been like to read one volume and then be so excited to start the next volume to find out what came next.  In the first editions we also see the ways that the printers kept continuity in the text by printing the first word of the next page at the end of the previous page (aka the “catchword”, see Deb Barnum’s blog on collecting books: https://janeausteninvermont.blog/2021/03/06/collecting-jane-austen-book-collecting-101/).  We also can see that not many words are printed on each line, so that the words on one page of a current edition might be spread out over two pages in a first edition (compare the Emma proposal scene in the first edition to the proposal scene in the Penguin edition edited by Juliette Wells, marked in the picture below by blue brackets).  It feels amazing that these volumes from the early 1800s have survived into the 21st century.

Finding Your “Small Band of True Friends”

It was so special to see the first editions with two of our region’s “founding members”.  Vic was at our very first meeting in Pullman in June 2017 and Chuck was at our first tea in Spokane in July 2017.  They both joined JASNA that year and helped our region to be recognized as an official region.  One of the joys of being a regional coordinator is getting to meet new Jane Austen fans in our region in person (such as Deb, who came with Vic) and, through social media and on Zoom, getting to meet people from all over the world who are Janeites. When viewing the first editions I also felt a connection to Lorraine Hanaway, who donated them, although I never had the pleasure of meeting her.  I could imagine her walking around the WSU campus in the late 1940s, thinking about the next edition of the student paper, The Daily Evergreen, in her job as editor.

T to B, L to R: Michele, Chuck, Vic, and Debbie are all smiling widely behind their masks!

The other Janeite I connected with at the MASC was, unexpectedly, Virginia Woolf!  The MASC has a large collection of volumes from Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s personal library (http://ntserver1.wsulibs.wsu.edu/masc/onlinebooks/woolflibrary/woolflibraryonline.htm).  I knew that Woolf was a big Jane Austen fan.  Trevor Bond and Greg Matthews arranged for us to see the Jane Austen books from the Woolf personal library.  The novels were mainly the “Everyman Library” versions from the early 1900s, although there was a two volume edition of Pride and Prejudice printed in 1817 by Egerton that was given to Virginia Woolf from John Maynard Keynes (the economist, who was also a part of the Bloomsbury group) and signed by him.  I was excited to see first editions of several of the Oxford publications from the 1920s: Lady Susan (pictured), Volume the First, and the final chapters of Persuasion, including the canceled chapter 10.  Another volume was probably quite rare since it said in the volume that only 250 were published:  a special printing of the final chapters of Persuasion printed on handmade paper with a facsimile version of the canceled chapter 10 in Jane Austen’s handwriting (see picture).  Holding volumes that Virginia Woolf held was very special.

It was a dream come true for me to be able to hold some Jane Austen first editions. I need to go back and study the first edition volumes in more detail.  I also want to get a better look at the P&P from 1817 that belonged to Virginia Woolf.  If you live locally and would like to see the volumes, they are available to view when MASC is open.  See https://libraries.wsu.edu/masc/ for more information about hours and how to access material in the reading room at MASC.

Michele Larrow, Regional Co-Coordinator

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Jane Austen in Winter

When I think of Jane Austen and winter, I always think of Emma.  The snow that occurs during the Christmas Eve party at the Westons is pivotal to the plot as a way to get Mr. Elton alone with Emma.  It is also another example of how characters’ various responses to the same event reveal their personalities and whether they treat others with compassion or not.  I like that once the snow has set in for several days, Mr. Knightley still trudges through the snow to Hartfield to spend time with family.  There is so much humor in Mr. Woodhouse’s response to the snow:

“It was weather that might fairly confine everybody at home; . . . [I]t was very pleasant to have her father so well satisfied with his being all alone in his own house, too wise to stir out; and to hear him say to Mr. Knightley, whom no weather could keep entirely from them,–

’Ah! Mr. Knightley, why do you not stay at home like poor Mr. Elton?’”  (138-9, Oxford Edition)

Of course, winter in the Pacific Northwest means snow, especially in February this year.  We debated whether to reschedule our Spokane book discussion from 2/10 and ultimately decided to do so.  We were glad we did, based on the road conditions that day.  Both the Moscow Book Discussion on 2/17 at One World Cafe and the Spokane Book Discussion on 2/17 at Mary Ellen’s house were fun explorations of Northanger Abbey.  The weather and roads were clear enough that members were able to travel from significant distances (in some cases) to attend. The group in Spokane enjoyed the treats everyone brought and the discussion so much that the meeting went over 3 hours, instead of the usual 2. Unfortunately for the Moscow meeting, many members were ill and not able to attend the meeting.  We will try to reschedule something in warmer weather for those who missed.  With a smaller group in Moscow, we discovered all sorts of connections, like that two of the three attendees had both gone to Michigan State (and had very strong reactions against Ohio State).  It was nice to have time to get to know our fellow members more deeply.

In January we did a virtual movie night on our Facebook page for the movie “Love and Friendship”, Whit Stillman’s brilliant tribute to “Lady Susan”.  We had participants from Idaho, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington.  It was so much fun to interact with people from across the country and the comments were often hilarious.  Since it was online, we did not have to worry about the weather.

One of the best parts about winter for me is making a cup of tea and snuggling under a blanket to read Jane Austen.  I think reading when it is cold outside is especially enjoyable.  In addition to re-reading Northanger Abbey for our book discussion, I have been re-reading Emma because it brings me such joy and is a way to de-stress for me.  I also read all three of Pamela Aidan’s books in the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series in preparation for our tea at the end of April (see our Events page for more information).  I thoroughly enjoyed these books and am looking forward to hearing Pamela speak.  She will have books for sale at the tea and will be autographing books, so I plan to stock up!

I hope that you all are surviving the snow, winter illnesses, and the cold.  Most of all, enjoy some Jane Austen to brighten the days and warm your heart.  Michele

 

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Mr. Knightley’s Harshness at Box Hill

Mr. Knightley’s Harshness at Box Hill by Michele Larrow

In Emma, each scene between Emma and Mr. Knightley is presaged by earlier scenes and then connects in important ways to later scenes.  A pivotal scene is Mr. Knightley’s criticism of Emma after she has insulted Miss Bates at Box Hill. The level of emotion that Mr. Knightley shows is a continuation of the anger he has shown to Emma in discussing Harriet’s refusal of Robert Martin and the scene where they discuss Frank Churchill.  After they have argued about Harriet refusing Robert Martin, we see how angry he was perceived to be by Emma in her reflections: “She had a sort of habitual respect for his judgment in general, as made her dislike having it so loudly against her; and to have him sitting just opposite her in angry state, was very disagreeable” (E 65).  When they argue about whether Frank Churchill is free to come to visit the Westons at the end of the first volume, the language that Austen uses to describe Mr. Knightley’s speech—“displeased…warmly….with vexation” (149-150)–shows just how angry he is during the discussion.  Thus, before Box Hill, we have a couple of examples of Emma and Mr. Knightley discussing an issue and him expressing anger toward her and disapprobation about her behavior or opinions.

When Mr. Knightley criticizes Emma for her insult of Miss Bates at Box Hill, his criticism may be just, but it is delivered in an overly harsh manner.  When we have re-read the novel, we know that part of what upsets him is Emma’s flirtations with Frank Churchill and not just how she has wounded Miss Bates.  It is worthwhile to quote what Mr. Knightley says at length:

 Emma, I must once more speak to you as I have been used to do: a privilege rather endured than allowed, perhaps, but I must still use it. I cannot see you acting wrong, without a remonstrance. How could you be so unfeeling to Miss Bates? How could you be so insolent in your wit to a woman of her character, age, and situation?—Emma, I had not thought it possible” (374).

When Emma attempts to defend her behavior by noting Miss Bates can be “ridiculous” (375), he counters by accusing her of being “thoughtless” and acting with “pride”:

Her situation should secure your compassion. It was badly done, indeed! You, whom she had known from an infant, whom she had seen grow up from a period when her notice was an honour, to have you now, in thoughtless spirits, and the pride of the moment, laugh at her, humble her—and before her niece, too—and before others, many of whom (certainly some,) would be entirely guided by your treatment of her.—This is not pleasant to you, Emma—and it is very far from pleasant to me; but I must, I will,—I will tell you truths while I can; satisfied with proving myself your friend by very faithful counsel, and trusting that you will some time or other do me greater justice than you can do now” (375).

Emma feels the full force of his criticism and feels “mortification and deep concern” (376), in part due to regret over hurting Miss Bates but probably more due to Mr. Knightley’s “ill opinion” (376) of her.

Emma and Mr. Knightley see each other only briefly before he leaves to visit John and Isabella, when Mr. Knightley almost kisses Emma’s hand after finding out that she has visited Miss Bates, which Emma thinks shows “perfect amity” (386).  Later, when Emma realizes she loves Mr. Knightley, she reflects on Box Hill to ascertain his feelings for her:

She could not flatter herself with any idea of blindness in his attachment to her.  She had received a very recent proof of its impartiality.—How shocked he had been by her behaviour to Miss Bates!  How directly, how strongly he had expressed himself to her on the subject! Not too strongly for the offense–but far, far too strongly to issue from any feeling softer than upright justice and clear-sighted goodwill” (415-16).

Because Mr. Knightley has been so harsh at Box Hill, Emma thinks it is possible that he does love Harriet and only thinks of her as a brother or friend would.

When Emma and Mr. Knightley discuss the engagement of Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, Emma is “ashamed” (426) of her past behavior and feels that she has to confess her inadequacies to the person she sees as the critic of Box Hill, Mr. Knightley.  Emma admits to her errors of vanity in accepting Frank’s attentions.  Emma also still thinks that Mr. Knightley could be in love with Harriet.  After Mr. Knightley says that he envies Frank, Emma thinks that he wants to reveal his love for Harriet and she cuts him off.  But Emma can’t bear that she has caused him pain and she is willing to accept what she fears most—the thought of him marrying Harriet.  She invites him to talk “as a friend” (429) and Mr. Knightley declares his love to Emma “in a tone of . . . sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness” (430).  Emma and Mr. Knightley get to have their “perfect happiness” (484) because Mr. Knightley is able to stop being Emma’s critic and Emma is able to make her own good moral choices.

Pages are from:  Austen, Jane.  Emma.  Ed. R. W. Chapman.  3rd ed.  London: Oxford UP, 1966.

PBS Learning Media has the clip of this Box Hill admonition from the BBC 2009 Emma adaptation with Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller, directed by Jim O’Hanlon.  I think the actors do a nice job of capturing the emotions of the scene and it is fairly close to the novel.  Click on the link to view the clip—it is very short: 

https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/mastem14-ela-lit-emma3/emma-3-mr-knightleys-reprimand/#

Michele Larrow, Regional Co-Coordinator

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