featured, Fun

Increasing Your Daily Joy with Jane Austen

“As Many Holds Upon Happiness as Possible”:

Increasing Your Daily Joy with Jane Austen

Michele Larrow, Regional Co-Coordinator

In January of this year (2022), our region created and hosted an “Eat. Read. Love.” scavenger hunt on Zoom as part of our celebration of Jane Austen’s December birthday.  We had people attend from all over the country and a few other countries.  The three categories were food and drink in the novels; books related to Jane Austen, examples of the novels, and reading mentioned in the novels; and items displaying our love for Jane Austen, the Regency era, and the video/film adaptations.  I was struck by how much joy attendees had in sharing their Jane Austen-related items with others and the variety of ways we proclaim our love of Jane Austen.

I will discuss how to be a bit more intentional and mindful throughout our day in using our Jane Austen love to increase joy.  Some of these suggestions might be things that you already do, and my hope is that doing them more intentionally will help you feel more joyful.

Take a breath and smile when you see anything related to Jane Austen.   Most of us have Jane Austen mugs, or pictures, or figures.  When you use or see something that is Jane Austen-related, take a breath in, smile, and think about a specific scene or quotation that makes you feel good.  For example, I have three bone china mugs that I use with my morning tea with botanical pictures of apples, peaches, and cherries.  Apples remind me of Mr. Knightley and Donwell Abbey (big smile), peaches remind me of Mr. Darcy and Pemberly (when Lizzy and Mrs. Gardiner visit with Georgiana), and cherries are mentioned by Mrs. Elton during the strawberry picking monologue in Emma (I always smile because of the genius of how Austen portrays Mrs. Elton’s speech). Using bone china also connects me to Jane Austen’s time (although it is not Wedgwood or Staffordshire).  Have Jane Austen items in places where you can see them throughout your day to frequently have that pause and smile. 

Connect Jane Austen to something else you love.  I work as a psychologist at a university counseling center.  We are privileged to work with students from all cultural backgrounds and all gender identity and sexual orientations.  I have a large “More Pride, Less Prejudice” graphic in my office (see below) that was designed by Georgie Castilla of Duniath Comics https://www.duniathcomics.com/.  I also ordered some of Georgie’s P&P stickers and brought them into work to share with my co-workers and the graduate student trainees.  Thirty stickers were gone in no time and even the “big boss” wanted one.  It is so neat to see the stickers around the center, and I feel happy to have spread some Jane Austen and Pride joy!

Do some GIF therapy.  My favorite GIF is the “Knightly Approves” GIF.  I laugh every time I see it and it has become a running joke with a small group of other Mr. Knightley fans on our region’s Facebook page.  Our region officers also love a good Clueless GIF (“As if!”).  When I see a GIF, I have associations to the work it is from, which brings more happiness.  Take some time each day for a little GIF therapy.  [Also, my computer friends want me to note that it is pronounced “jif”, like the peanut butter, according to the late Steve Wilhite, the GIF creator.]  Another alternative is to find video clips of the TV show/movie adaptations you like on a video platform when you don’t have time to watch a whole movie or TV episode. Knightley Approves: https://tenor.com/UyTp.gif and Cher, “As If”: https://tenor.com/xUTi.gif.

Wear your Jane Austen colors.  We can’t always wear our Jane Austen t-shirts or Regency togs, to work for example (darn professional standards!).  We can pick colors to wear that we associate with specific characters or film adaptations.  I have several Cher-yellow (Clueless) items that make me extra happy when I wear them.  See if you can make Jane Austen associations to the colors of clothes you own—Captain Wentworth navy blue, Lizzy (2005) loden green, Emma (2009) pink, Catherine or Fanny white (preferably in muslin with glossy spots), Elinor (2008) muted lavender, Marianne (1995) ice blue, Darcy black, etc.  I also have a pashmina scarf that I bought at an AGM that I have taken to wearing in the winter instead of packing it away in the cedar chest.  I call it my “Pride and Prejudice Peacock Edition” shawl and very much feel like a Regency woman when I wear it.

If it fits with your space and your budget, get the DELUXE edition!  I have several versions of most of the novels and enjoy reading the notes in annotated editions.  I bought Bharat Tandon’s edited Emma: An Annotated Edition (2012, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press) a couple of years ago and recently bought the Robert Morrison’s edited Persuasion: An Annotated Edition (2011, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press) and the Patricia Meyer Spacks’s edited Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition (2010, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press).  They are each such beautiful editions with excellent annotations and pictures.  It is a pleasure to hold them and feel their heft.  I plan to get the Belknap editions of Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey soon.

I hope that these suggestions seem doable.  The main point about each is being intentional as you interact with objects you already have in order to take a minute to let the positive emotions associated with Jane Austen create joy in your day.  Leave a comment if you have another way you bring Jane Austen joy into your day.

Fun, Interviews, Uncategorized

An Interview with Pamela Aidan-Part II


Last week we shared Part I of our interview with Pamela Aidan, author of the “Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman” series. She will be speaking on “Creating The Regency World” at our upcoming tea on 28 April. Tickets are on sale through today, 22 April, so buy yours while you can on our Event Page.

We gathered questions from people on our social media channels and added them to a list of our own. Our questions are in italics and Pamela’s responses are in bold for easy reading. Thank you, Pamela!

-How much research do you do before you write compared to during the writing? What kind of outline do you do? 

Most of the research is done before so that I am immersed in the time and place. During the writing, the research pertains to fact checking or to getting more information on an idea that pops in unexpectedly.

-Were any of the characters you created based on people in your life?

    I used names from my family at various times, but the only character was one that was mentioned in passing, a Belgian boxer named Eugene Bleret who was modeled after a great-uncle.

-How do you make sure you stay true to the characters created by Jane Austen? 

Decades of reading and re-reading Pride & Prejudice and keeping the novel open on my desk as I wrote. I felt I knew Darcy inside out.

-From Michele: How did you learn so much about how a servant like a valet would function in the Regency world? (For example, in particular, Mr. Fletcher, Darcy’s valet, who Michele loves.)

    Lots of Masterpiece Theater viewing, probably. But Mr Fletcher is outside of the common way when it comes to valets. I reasoned that a person in that position would know most of the intimate details of his master’s life and thoughts just to be able to serve him well. Then, you have the kind of person Darcy is—what kind of valet would he require? Fletcher was a lot of fun to write and he almost ran away with the show!

-From Jane: Do you have any “rituals” when you are preparing to write? Such as, do you use paper/notebooks and pencils/pens? Computer? Do you write in a certain place? At a certain time of day?

I start on the computer and while writing the Trilogy worked first in a cold basement, then a warm little office at home, usually in the early morning.

Favorite tea or beverage to drink while writing? Snacks?

 Tea, of course! Earl Grey with milk and sugar.

-Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?

    I love listening to Enya while writing.

-Have you made any “literary pilgrimages” to see Jane Austen sites? Or other authors?

Unfortunately, no.

If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would it be?

I’d want to talk over Mansfield Park.

-What is one of your favorite experiences as a writer?

I’ve gotten many letters over the years thanking me for the Trilogy. Several testified that they read the books during a particularly difficult time in their lives and that the books helped them get through them. To be of assistance in that way is highly gratifying.

-The Spokane Public Library contributed a few questions:

      What are your best resources for research and getting into the mindset of the time/place?

    The best preparation for getting into the mindset was decades of enjoyment of Austen and Georgette Heyer novels. Heavily used resources were:

1.Our Tempestuous Day: a History of Regency England by Carolly Erickson

2.An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England by Venetia Murray

3.The Friendly Jane Austen by Natalie Tyler

4.Ruling Britannia : A Political History of Britain, 1688 – 1955 by Glyn Williams & John Ramsden   

5.English History in the Making by William L. Sachs

6.Prince of Pleasure:  The Prince of Wales and the Making of the Regency by Saul David.

7.Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History by Mark Girouard

8.A practical View of Christianity by William Wilberforce   

9.Miniatures & Morals: The Christian Novels of Jane Austen by Peter J. Leithart

-Why did you choose to write in this voice? (Mr. Darcy, obviously) 😀 (Paraphrasing this one from SPL) Why does he do the things he does?

    My initial impetus was a desire to understand why and how Darcy changed. I don’t think Austen ever went into Darcy’s interior life beyond the considered statements he makes at Netherfield during Jane’s illness and his short analysis of his growing years during the walk to Oakham Mount.  He is absent for at least half of the book, during the time when his sea-change in beliefs about himself and his situation via Elizabeth would have occurred

-If someone can only buy 1 book on the time period, which book would you recommend?

    An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England. Venetia Muray. Viking, 1998. (Ed. Note: Oh, yes, I adore this one!!! -Jane)

-How much research do you do before you write compared to during the writing? What kind of outline do you do? 

Most of the research is done before so that I am immersed in the time and place. During the writing, the research pertains to fact checking or to getting more information on an idea that pops in unexpectedly.

And the question everyone wants to know the answer to! -From Charles: Do you have plans to pen a post Pride & Prejudice as you contemplated for an interview at the end of the third installment of your Darcy Trilogy?

I always hope. Now that I’ve retired, there’s more possibility for it to happen. I have some ideas but not enough to get started yet.

We hope you enjoyed this interview! Thank you, Pamela!!

[Read Part I]

Fun, Quotes

Vote! Jane Austen Madness 2019-Favorite Quotes!

It’s another year of “Jane Austen Madness!” This year’s theme is “Favorite Quotes” and we are voting in rounds, rather than the whole bracket at once! The first round is open from 21 March-28 March and has 64 marvelous quotes taken from Jane’s novels, as well as a few from film adaptations.

To participate, please visit our Facebook event, where we are updating frequently and plan to add some fun things like giveaways, questions, and more! You can vote every five minutes, so if you have to choose between beloved quotes, vote for one and then vote for the other!

If you would rather vote straightaway, you will find the bracket here:
https://brackify.com/bracket/29113/Jane-Austen-Madness-2019

Uncategorized

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

 

Uncategorized

Tea and Sympathy, Part 2 (Discussion at the Spring “Great House” Tea)

End Persuasion

Tea and Sympathy, Part 2

Michele Larrow

At our Spring “Great House” Tea on Sunday May 6 at the McConnell Mansion in Moscow, ID the most exciting part of the tea for me was the passionate and engaged discussion that members had about sympathy in Persuasion.  There were two sections of Persuasion discussed per table, for the total of eight sections.  Then we got together as the big group and each table shared their discussion of the scene they had.  Since I can’t remember who was in each individual group, I will summarize what each table group shared, mentioning who was at the table by first name.  The page numbers listed refer to: Austen, Jane.  Persuasion. Ed. R.W. Chapman. 3rd ed. Oxford: OUP, 1933.  Please see the prior blog for the other references.

I started the discussion by doing a quick summary of the material that was summarized in our first blog on this topic Tea and Sympathy, Part 1 https://jasnaewanid.org/2018/04/22/tea-and-sympathy-part-1/.   I gave my opinion that Captain Wentworth did not understand Anne’s reasons and feelings when she broke the engagement and did not appreciate her character and judgment.  Over the course of the novel, Captain Wentworth has to progress from anger and resentment about the past to acceptance and full sympathy with Anne before they can re-unite and have a successful marriage. I also offered a discussion of the philosopher Adam Smith’s A Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) as a resource to help us explore what “sympathy” meant to Jane Austen.  “Sympathy is defined by Smith as our ability imaginatively to feel others’ emotions (9-10) as they would experience the situation, changing ‘persons and characters’ with others (317)” (Larrow 3; also Fricke 10).  Austen’s novels show the challenges in fully understanding another person’s emotions and point of view and in Persuasion, Austen has to show Captain Wentworth as both a warm person capable of caring, but initially unsympathetic to Anne.

Table 1, with Sheryl N., Linnea, Vivian, Kay, Valerie, and Jennifer discussed the scenes when Anne and Captain Wentworth first meet at Uppercross and his comments afterwards that Mary shares with Anne (58-62) and when Captain Wentworth takes Anne’s nephew off her back (78-81).  They discussed how his early interactions with Anne were fairly cold. Anne interprets his behaviors as “He wished to avoid seeing her” and she feels “mortification” that he has seen her as “altered beyond recognition”.  The narrator also tells us information that Anne does not have access to:

Frederick Wentworth had used such words, or something like them, but without an idea that they would be carried round to her.  He had thought her wretchedly altered, and in the first moment of appeal, had spoken as he felt.  He had not forgiven Anne Elliot.  She had used him ill, deserted and disappointed him; and worse, she had shewn a feebleness of character in doing so, which his own decided, confident temper could not endure.  She had given him up to oblige others.  It had been the effect of over-persuasion.  It had been weakness and timidity.

When Captain Wentworth removes Walter from her back, he is showing some concern for her feelings, but then he negates that by avoiding her thanks or talking to her:

the little particulars of the circumstance, with the conviction soon forced on her by the noise he was studiously making with the child, that he meant to avoid hearing her thanks, and rather sought to testify that her conversation was the last of his wants, produced such a confusion of varying, but very painful agitation, as she could not recover from, till enabled by the entrance of Mary and the Miss Musgroves to make over her little patient to their cares, and leave the room.

So, the early interactions between Anne and Captain Wentworth allow us to see Anne’s pain at how he treats her, but he appears oblivious to her feelings.

Table 2, with Stephanie, Amy, Katherine, Laura, Jane, and Mary Ellen discussed the scenes when Anne overhears Captain Wentworth talking to Louisa while walking and then when he helps her into the carriage (87-91) and Captain Wentworth’s talk about Anne after Louisa falls and then the carriage ride to Uppercross (114-117).  After Captain Wentworth puts Anne in the carriage, Anne offers (in free indirect discourse) a summary of what he thinks of her at this point:

She was in the carriage, and felt that he had placed her there, that his will and his hands had done it, that she owed it to his perception of her fatigue, and his resolution to give her rest.  She was very much affected by the view of his disposition towards her, which all these things made apparent.  This little circumstance seemed the completion of all that had gone before. She understood him.  He could not forgive her, but he could not be unfeeling.  Though condemning her for the past, and considering it with high and unjust resentment, though perfectly careless of her, and though becoming attached to another, still he could not see her suffer, without the desire of giving her relief.  It was a remainder of former sentiment; it was an impulse of pure, though unacknowledged friendship; it was a proof of his own warm and amiable heart, which she could not contemplate without emotions so compounded of pleasure and pain, that she knew not which prevailed.

After Louisa falls, Anne overhears him talking about her in a way that seems to appreciate her as “proper” and “capable”, but she soon realizes that he appreciates her mainly so she can nurse Louisa.  When he asks her opinion about how to break the news of the fall to the Musgroves, she feels happy that he has asked for her concurrence:  “But the remembrance of the appeal remained a pleasure to her, as a proof of friendship, and of deference for her judgement, a great pleasure; and when it became a sort of parting proof, its value did not lessen.”  Thus, when Anne leaves Uppercross, Captain Wentworth appears to have some value for her and some sympathy about her feelings, but in the context of her usefulness to him or Louisa.

Table 3, with Anne, Marie, Vickey, Ariel, Leslee, Melody, and Rose discussed the scenes when Anne sees Captain Wentworth the first time in Bath in Molland’s (175-178) and at the concert, the discussion between Anne and Captain Wentworth (181-186).  Anne has trouble determining his feelings for her when they first meet in Bath:  “The character of his manner was embarrassment.  She could not have called it either cold or friendly, or anything so certainly as embarrassed.” Anne is not sure if he is disappointed that Louisa is to marry someone else and tries to determine it.  In the scene at the concert, Captain Wentworth has more appreciation of Anne’s feelings, for example thinking that she might have had a shock about the fall:  “I have hardly seen you since our day at Lyme.  I am afraid you must have suffered from the shock, and the more from its not overpowering you at the time.”  He also has some sense of what she feels about not being supported in the past by her family when he discusses how the Musgroves are such supportive parents: “A sudden recollection seemed to occur, and to give him some taste of that emotion which was reddening Anne’s cheeks and fixing her eyes on the ground.”  Finally at the end of the scene, Anne thinks she understands him and that he must love her:

His choice of subjects, his expressions, and still more his manner and look, had been such as she could see in only one light.  His opinion of Louisa Musgrove’s inferiority, an opinion which he had seemed solicitous to give, his wonder at Captain Benwick, his feelings as to a first, strong attachment; sentences begun which he could not finish, his half averted eyes and more than half expressive glance, all, all declared that he had a heart returning to her at least; that anger, resentment, avoidance, were no more; and that they were succeeded, not merely by friendship and regard, but by the tenderness of the past.  Yes, some share of the tenderness of the past.  She could not contemplate the change as implying less.  He must love her.

Although Anne senses his love for her, she also sees that Captain Wentworth is jealous of Mr. Elliot and unsure of what her feelings are.  Social conventions of the time prevent her from directly saying what she feels and so she must find a way to acknowledge her love to him.

Table 4, with Sheryl D., Lorena, Donna, Angel, Sonya, and Moriah discussed the scenes at the White Hart, when Captain Wentworth overhears Anne talking to Captain Harville and writes his letter (236-238) and the discussion between Captain Wentworth and Anne after they become engaged again and the night of the party at Anne’s house ( 240-247).  When he writes his letter to Anne, Captain Wentworth recognizes her full worth.  He is “half agony, half hope” because he finally sees her moral and emotional superiority to all other women and fears he has lost her.  We read the letter that he wrote, savoring the emotions expressed:

“I can listen no longer in silence.  I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach.  You pierce my soul.  I am half agony, half hope.  Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.  I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago.  Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death.  I have loved none but you.  Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant.  You alone have brought me to Bath.  For you alone, I think and plan.  Have you not seen this?  Can you fail to have understood my wishes?  I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine.  I can hardly write.  I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me.  You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature!  You do us justice, indeed.  You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men.  Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

When they are engaged again, the narrator reflects on Captain Wentworth and Anne’s mutual love and that they are both “fixed in a knowledge of each other’s character, truth, and attachment”:

There they exchanged again those feelings and those promises which had once before seemed to secure everything, but which had been followed by so many, many years of division and estrangement.  There they returned again into the past, more exquisitely happy, perhaps, in their re-union, than when it had been first projected; more tender, more tried, more fixed in a knowledge of each other’s character, truth, and attachment; more equal to act, more justified in acting.

Captain Wentworth sees Anne’s full worth and his errors.  “Her character was now fixed on his mind as perfection itself, maintaining the loveliest medium of fortitude and gentleness; but he was obliged to acknowledge that only at Uppercross had he learnt to do her justice, and only at Lyme had he begun to understand himself.”  He even learns to forgive Lady Russell, when he considers that he was to blame for not reuniting when he had prize money a few years after the broken engagement:

“Good God!” he cried, “you would!  It is not that I did not think of it, or desire it, as what could alone crown all my other success; but I was proud, too proud to ask again.  I did not understand you.  I shut my eyes, and would not understand you, or do you justice.  This is a recollection which ought to make me forgive every one sooner than myself.  Six years of separation and suffering might have been spared. It is a sort of pain, too, which is new to me.  I have been used to the gratification of believing myself to earn every blessing that I enjoyed.  I have valued myself on honourable toils and just rewards. Like other great men under reverses,” he added, with a smile. “I must endeavour to subdue my mind to my fortune.  I must learn to brook being happier than I deserve.”

At the end, we agreed that Anne and Captain Wentworth were indeed now a better match for each other than they were before because Captain Wentworth could fully sympathize with Anne’s feelings.  The discussion was a great ending to a wonderful tea.  Thanks to everyone who helped and participated.  We look forward to more fun events.