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Archive for November, 2010

Please Note:   Regency Dress Encouraged!!

[see below for other Austen-related events]

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

 ~The Annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea!~ featuring 

   Dr. Elaine Bander*
‘Doubting Mr. Darcy’

&

Dr. Peter Sabor**
 ‘Austen’s Letter Writers in
Sense & Sensibility

and Pride & Prejudice

 
 

*****

 

~  Traditional English Afternoon Tea ~

Sunday, 5 December 2010, 2 – 5 p.m.
 Champlain College, Hauke Conference Center
375 Maple St Burlington VT 
 

$20. / person ~ $15. / JASNA Members ~ $5. / student 

RSVPs required!  ~ Register by 28 Nov 2010

Flyer:  Dec_2010_flyer_final
Reserve form:  Dec_Tea_Reservation_form final
For more information:
   JASNAVermont [at] gmail [dot] com 
Visit our blog at: http://JaneAustenInVermont.wordpress.com

Please Join Us!

************************************ 

We are honored to welcome our Canadian neighbors and noted Austen scholars:

 
 
 

Elaine Bander

 

*Dr. Elaine Bander has recently retired from teaching English at Dawson College, Montreal

 
 
 

Peter Sabor

**Dr. Peter Sabor is the Canada Research Chair in 18th-Century Studies and Director of the Frances Burney Centre at McGill University. 

 

 

Upcoming in 2011 ~
March 27: ‘Jane Austen’s London in Fact and Fiction’ with Suzanne Boden & Deb Barnum
June 5: A Lecture & Concert on the ‘Music of Jane Austen’s World’ with Prof. William Tortolano 
at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier

*******************

Other Events of note:

December 1, 7pm ~ Newport, VT: Vermont Humanities Council First Wednesday Lecture:

Dartmouth professor emeritus James Heffernan will discuss the use of the fairy tale in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice in a talk at Goodrich Memorial Library in Newport on December 1. His talk, “In Want of a Wife: Romance and Realism in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice,” is part of the Vermont Humanities Council’s First Wednesdays lecture series and takes place at 7:00 p.m. 

In the history of literature, Jane Austen is typically considered a realist of social relations—and yet Pride and Prejudice remains perennially popular because it incorporates a potent feature of the fairy tale: it fulfills the fondest wishes of its poor and not conspicuously beautiful heroine. Heffernan will show how Austen reconstructs the fairy tale within the framework of social realism.  Heffernan is Professor of English, Emeritus and Frederick Sessions Beebe ’35 Professor in the Art of Writing at Dartmouth College. Author of numerous books and articles and lecturer for The Teaching Company, he has lectured around the world.

For more information, contact Goodrich Memorial Library at 802.334.7902, or contact the Vermont Humanities Council at 802.262.2626 or info@vermonthumanities.org, or visit www.vermonthumanities.org.

*December 12, 2010:  JASNA-Massachusetts Region :  Jane Austen Birthday Celebration!

 Enjoy light refreshments, including a birthday toast, and entertainment by the JASNA Massachusetts Players presenting Austen on Austen

Cost is $10* per person ($5* for JASNA Massachusetts members)
Please R.S.V.P. by Tuesday, December 7 by remitting your check with this form.

Wheelock College, Brookline Campus
43 Hawes Street, Brookline, MA
For more information:  Visit the JASNA-MA website

*December 11, 2010 ~ JASNA-Greater New York Region: 

 “Reading Pride & Prejudice Backwards”, with Professor Mary Poovey followed by the Annual Birthday Celebration!
 See their website for more information

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 “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
-from Boswell’s Life of Johnson

 

Obsessed with London? – you can get a daily fix from the comfort of your own computer screen by visiting the blog Number One London – at http://onelondonone.blogspot.com  -  poor substitute I know for the real thing, but the best one can do most days… and blog creators Kristine Hughes and Victoria Hinshaw do their very best to make it an enjoyable visit:

Welcome . . . You’ve arrived at Number One London, an address for those with an interest in England past and present and a passion for daily life during the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras. Share with us your book finds, favorite films and websites, on dits regarding your research pursuits, travel adventures across the pond and historic treasures. If you spend an inordinate amount of time reading, researching and pondering past and present England, then you’ve found a place to share information and make the aquaintance of others who feel at home at Number One London. *

Number One, London was the home of the Duke of Wellington – and a perfect place to start your immersion in London’s past and present… todays’ post is about Benedict Cumberbatch, the latest Sherlock Holmes on Masterpeice Mystery; the site is filled with all manner of goodies, like the weather since 1500, and all you ever wanted to know about William and Kate, and as Ms. Hinshaw was at the JASNA AGM, you can follow her summary of the happenings… [she spoke with Kim Wilson on "About Those Abbeys: A Trip Through History, Literature and the Picturesque" which I unfortunately missed..]

Enjoy your cyberspace trek to London!

[* From the blog Number One London]

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Writer alert:  Get your pens mended!  As last year with the short story compilation Dancing with Mr. Darcy, The Chawton House Library has announced another Jane Austen short story competition.  Please visit their website for details.

[Image from zazzle.com]

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This sent from Nili Olay of JASNA-Greater NY Region – the author, Phyllis Fine had attended one of their book discussion gatherings and wrote the following for OMMA [Magazine of Online Media, Marketing & Advertising: http://www.mediapost.com/ – I am appending the whole article here: [and thanks Nili for sharing!]

 “Don’t be Prejudiced: Janeites Aren’t Necessarily Luddites”   by Phyllis Fine

The new member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) looked sheepish. “Um, I know you ladies don’t approve, but I’m thinking of buying a Nook,” she said. Some looked puzzled, and a quick tutorial on ebooks ensued. Then Nili Olay, JASNA’s New York Metro Region cochair, showed she had her heart in both the 19th and 21st centuries. “Why shouldn’t we approve?” she asked. “We want everybody to read as much as they can, any way they can.” 

Olay had a point. If you’re devoted to the classic novels the modern world has arguably messed with the most, why should you scream heresy when you now find them accessible electronically? 

In fact, Austen devotees have already seen her works invaded by the undead (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and the water-logged (Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters). Faced with such indignities, some adapted and others complained. 

Not surprisingly, Janeites are also highly sophisticated, knowledgeable readers. They remember the names of minor characters in the Austen oeuvre (Darcy’s cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam in Pride and Prejudice – that’s for amateurs! How about Darcy’s housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds?), and are willing to entertain the theory that the oh-so-reserved Jane Fairfax is secretly pregnant in a shadow version of Emma. So they’re a good test of how the most literate are adapting to the electronic book. 

Polled during a discussion group of roughly 15 JASNA members, only three identified themselves as regular ebook readers. Yet these three were enthusiastic e-cheerleaders, using words like “love” to describe their relationship with the devices. 

Linda Dennery, executive vice president of benefits at Advance Newspaper Group, must keep up with the latest in media professionally, so she has both a Kindle and an iPad. 

Ann Herendeen enjoys her Kindle, “but when I’m reading a book between Austen and escapist trash, it drives me crazy,” she said. If she’s looking for a certain scene that isn’t searchable by an easy keyword, she’d rather flip through physical pages than slowly go through electronic ones. “It’s like reading through a narrow hole, a periscope that illuminates one spot only,” she said. 

Olay is an economical ebook reader: She uses her iPhone rather than a dedicated e-reader, and the volumes she reads are free because they’re in the public domain. She’d just finished reading Daisy’s Aunt by E.F. Benson and was currently in the midst of Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend. 

Others in the group were yet-to-be-convinced that ebooks have value – like Marilyn Goldfried, who gave perhaps the most erudite counterpoint possible to Olay’s testimony on the beauty of packing just one small device to fulfill all your literary vacation needs. Goldfried reported that when Noel Coward was on a cruise, he lightened his book burden by throwing pages into the water as he finished reading them. 

Olay, noting another e-advantage, said, “You don’t need a bookmark; it always keeps your place for you automatically.” 

“But let’s not exaggerate the problem of using bookmarks,” Goldfried quickly retorted. 

“Well, I’m always losing bookmarks,” Olay came back. 

June Shapiro was more of a Luddite than many in the group, noting “I don’t trust a computer at all, and I would probably throw a mobile phone across the room.” And yet she said, “Good for anybody who reads Austen, any way.” 

Dennery, perhaps the most tech-savvy, related a story about how quickly habits can change: “I was reading a ‘real’ book a few weeks ago, and when I closed it, I went to turn it off in the back.” 

______________________________

So, you know that I am a bookseller of fine collectible books, and we in that bookselling world I live in have been discussing this for a good number of years – and we read the daily notices of book sales down, ebook sales up, bookstores closing, and who is buying used books if no one wants new books, etc. – but I have a kindle and an iphone with ebooks on it [great in traffic jams!] and I have been listening to books on tape and cds and now my ipod / iphone for years – and I still buy books and collect books, and read books – I think that we have here just one other way to disseminate and absorb information, and if people are reading Austen on their kindle or nook, we should celebrate that at least they are reading Austen

 What are your thoughts  about reading Austen on kindles and nooks and iphones and ipads and whatever is the next  rage of the moment?? -  and are you still buying BOOKS?  please weigh in!

 [Image from MacWorld.com]

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Today in Jane Austen’s life:  on November 13, 1815, Jane Austen visited Carlton House, the London home of the Prince Regent, at the invitation of the Prince’s Librarian James Stanier Clarke.  Austen was “asked” to dedicate her next book  – Emma – to the Prince – it is the only dedication in her six novels [her juvenilia was humorously dedicated to her family members - see Peter Sabor's article in Persuasions 31 (2009) "Brotherly and Sisterly Dedications in Jane Austen's Juvenilia"]. 

Carlton House - front view

This is Austen’s  letter to Clarke on the 15th:

Wednesday 15 November 1815

Sir,

I must take the liberty of asking You a question – Among the many flattering attentions which I rec’d from you at Carlton House, on Monday last, was the Information of my being at liberty to dedicate any future Work to HRH the P.R. without the necessity of any Solicitation on my part.  Such at least, I beleived to be your words; but as I am very anxious to be quite certain of what was intended, I intreat you to have the goodness to inform me how such Permission is to be understood, & whether it is incumbent on me to shew my sense of the Honour, by inscribing the Work now in the Press, to H.R.H. – I sh’d be equally concerned to appear either presumptuous or Ungrateful.-

I am etc…

[Le Faye, Ltr. 125 (D), p. 296]

Clarke responded immediately:

“It is certainly not incumbent on you to dedicate your work now in the Press to His Royal Highness: but if you wish to do the Regent that honour either now or at some future period, I am happy to send you that permission which need not require any more trouble or solicitation on your Part.”  (Ltr. 125 (A), p.296)

Austen and Clarke engaged in a lively correspondence about this dedication and Clarke’s efforts to have Austen write a book about a clergyman… Austen responded in her most humorous fashion:

“I am fully sensible than an Historical Romance founded on the House of Saxe Cobourg might be more to the purpose of Profit or Popularity, than such pictures of domestic Life in Country Villages as I deal in – but I could no more write a Romance than an Epic Poem. – I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other notice than to save my Life, & if it were indispensible for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I finished the first Chapter.- No – I must keep to my own style & go on in my own Way…” (Ltr. 138(D), p. 312).

It is unfortunate that no letter exists in which Jane writes Cassandra her impressions of Carlton House and the Prince’s request – it surely must have been written – how could Austen resist sharing her thoughts about Clarke and Carlton House with her sister! – it is likely one of those that Cassandra felt could not be passed on perhaps for its anti-P.R. sentiments. – In Letter 128 to Cassandra (Le Faye, 300), Austen writes “I did mention the P.R.- in my note to Mr. Murray, it brought me a fine compliment in return…” – which seems to indicate that Austen had written just previously to Cassandra about this request for a dedication.  But all we have is Austen’s very humorous dedication to Emma:

TO HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE REGENT,

THIS WORK IS, BY HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS’S PERMISSION,
MOST RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED,
BY HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS’S
DUTIFUL AND OBEDIENT HUMBLE SERVANT,

THE AUTHOR

***********

 
 

Carlton House staircase

Further reading:

[Images from the Wikipedia article on Carlton House]

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I have posted about this very rich resource before, but doing so again as much had been added: The Regency Encyclopedia.  I met up with the creator, Sue, at the Portland JASNA AGM, and we talked about some of the new items – maps, authors, and various bells and whistles. This is a password protected site, but Sue gave me permission to again provide the logins [case-sensitive]:

User ID – JAScholar
PW – Academia

I suggest you first look at the 18-page User’s Guide [no worries - it is largely visual with big print!] – to get a sense of how the database works.  Then scan the various categories; and always check the “What’s New” tab to see what has been added – it is constantly being updated and Sue asks for suggestions of good resources that she can add.  Here are the categories to give you an idea of what is included – all are keyword searchable:

  • Map Gallery that includes a Time & Distances option – this all based on John Cary’s New Itinerary (1819)
  • London: many maps, a tour, and shopping locations!
  • Georgian Names index
  • Fashion Print Gallery
  • Novel Calendars w/ Chapman’s Lists of Characters
  • Source list of work catalogued [my only criticism: this is a great bibliography of Regency resources but it is listed A-Z by first name, not the most helpful access point]
  • Online resource links [a select list]

A perfect weekend project – this database need some time spent with it to find all that is hidden behind its main menu page!

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Forgot to mention that the JASNA General Meeting was yesterday before the Ball: always nice to applaud the outgoing and incoming officers and offer a collective Thank You to all the volunteers that people this organization. Plus, the official announcement that Montreal will be the host of the 2014 AGM – on Mansfield Park in celebration of its publication 200 years ago.  Very close to Vermont, so very excited!

Sunday morning – the business meeting for the RCs – an updating on the finances, new features for RCs and another opportunity to share program ideas: beer-tasting [it brings the men out!]; military history [ditto!]; book swaps; Sherlock Holmes; whist and other games; a cemetery tour; balls and festivals – so much happening about Austen everywhere!

Brunch delicious and shared with Laurel Ann and Laurie Viera Rigler and several others at the round table – the winner of the High School essay contest read her winning entry – “Exposure of Truth” about Catherine in Mrs. Tilney’s bedroom – delightful to see another generation discovering and interpreting Jane Austen’s BOOKS!

Then a panel discussion “Dispute without Mayhem” – moderated by Kimberly Brangwin with Diana Birchall, Joan Ray and William Phillips – all responding to such questions as: What is the great joy of Northanger Abbey?  What is to be made of Henry’s “We are English” reprimand?  Does Northanger Abbey show Austen’s literary immaturity? Etc. – all ended quite amicably – no mayhem at all! – with a push and a Hurrah! for a Team Catherine to gain equal footing with the very vocal Team Tilney!

So future AGMs? Mark your calendars now  - check out the details at the JASNA website

2012 Annual General Meeting, Oct. 5-7, New York, NY USA
Theme: “Sex, Money, and Power in Jane Austen’s Fiction”

RCs Nili Olay and Jerry Vetowich gave a rousing intro and welcome to the appropriately titled Sex, Money and Power in Jane Austen’s Fiction, in Brooklyn NY October 5-7, 2012.  Admiral Jerry protested the “sex” part but was promptly silenced by Nili…looks to be great fun!

2013 Annual General Meeting, Oct. 4-6, Minneapolis, MN USA
Theme: “Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice … 200 years”

2014 Annual General Meeting, Oct. 10-12, Montréal, Québec, Canada
Theme: “Mansfield Park in Montréal: Contexts, Conventions and Controversies”

All very exciting to contemplate! – but up next is October in Fort Worth Texas to celebrate Sense & Sensibility: 2011 Annual General Meeting, Oct. 14-16, Fort Worth, TX USA  Theme: “Jane Austen: 200 years of Sense and Sensibility” – If their introduction is any indication of what they have in store for us, saddle up your best Palomino and giddy-up to Texas – the AGM team presented a rollicking video of Emma Thompson’s Sense & Sensibility interspersed with Western movie scenes featuring the likes of John Wayne and friends – an absolute hoot! – raucous laughter all around [you can also listen to the Austen 'Home of the Range' sung at last year’s AGM here - alas! link not accessible - will add tomorrow...].  So this Janeite will be certainly packing up her saddle bags and band boxes – for long before obsessions with Gregory Peck in a grey-flannel suit, Russell Crowe in Roman gear, Colin Firth in a wet white shirt, and Richard Armitage in Victorian costume and black leather with metal – long before any of them – Cowboys were my thing – I was Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane and Dale Evans all rolled into one – and my heart was really only for one fellow: how perfect to run into Him [ i.e. Roy Rogers for the uninitiated] on our cross-country trek [see the blog of our trip here] in a pub in South Dakota:

So Fort Worth, here I come!  And Portland, thank you for a glorious few days! -  here are some final pictures that capture the fun:

lovely gown!

Kimberly Brangwin in evening dress

Jill Kristensen, Wyoming

Marsha Huff at the Ball

Thank you Marsha for a fabulous four years, your beautiful Vermeer insights,
and for sharing your love of Austen with all of us!

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Day Three at the JASNA AGM in Portland:  A quick continental breakfast with Laurel Ann and a few friends at the table – discovered that Elaine Bander is quite a scholar of Dorothy L. Sayers –more on this in another post – and then off to the Plenary with JASNA North American Scholar Juliet McMaster on  - “‘A Surmise of such Horror’: Catherine Morland’s Imagination.”  I have heard Prof. McMaster speak on several occasions and she never fails to express “in the best chosen language” all there is to love about Jane Austen. Today she begins with showing us a “cheap” 1965 paperback edition of Northanger Abbey, where “gothic’ is everything, cover and blurbs teasing us with the horrors that await us in these pages – she ends her talk with surmising that perhaps they didn’t get it so wrong!  She presents this by examining the quality of Catherine’s mind – a combination of innocence and wisdom, likening her to the “holy fool” of Shakespeare or Dickens, a “good fool”.  Where Henry Tilney is so often the focus of Northanger Abbey criticism, Catherine relegated to the “heroine” that Austen herself seems to denigrate, McMaster gives us a gift: Catherine redeemed and placed in her rightful home next to Austen’s other great heroines.

 

Juliet McMaster

Catherine, as we know, is described in negatives in those first pages, and Henry teases her about the “intellectual poverty” of a visit with Mrs. Allen – McMaster likens her “brain as a closet,” Catherine’s cluttered and well-stocked but vacuous [Henry and Eleanor are well-stocked but ordered; John Thorpe has a “double occupancy”!] -  this “moving toyshop of her mind” is a perfect metaphor for Catherine – she learns aesthetic sensibility [that hyacinth!], not unlike the Romantic sensibility of Coleridge and Wordsworth, and her gothic readings and Henry’s very near prediction of her experiences in the Abbey all serve Catherine in her “awakening, an imaginative awakening, and we end able to love her “faults and all.” [as Mr. Knightley on his Emma!] –  and what of Henry’s reprimand? The one scene in NA that has caused the most commentary? often an expression of concern that Henry could end up as tyranical as his father? McMaster believes that Henry is revitalized and rejuvenated by Catherine, and she views his rebuke as almost a “cover-up” – that his surmising Catherine’s thoughts before she has clearly expressed them [go back and read the book!], that Henry is all too aware of the truths about his father – Catherine awakens his own fears, and indeed contributes to his strength in openly defying his father.

I later, in yet another trip to the Emporium!, talked with Professor McMaster and added four more books to my Juvenilia Press edition, now complete as to Austen’s works, with McMaster’s fanciful illustrations… and one last thought – McMaster threw out this tidbit – “pay attention to when Austen uses the word ‘almost.’”

Juliet McMaster with her "The Beautiful Cassandra"

So after feeling quite confident in Catherine’s true place in the Austen canon, on to a fashion session with Mary Hafner-Laney, a specialist in construction of historic clothing in “ ‘I was tempted by a pretty coloured muslin’: Jane Austen and the Art of being Fashionable” – a presentation covering the various fashion sources in magazines, such as La Belle Assemblee, the use of fashion dolls [see illus. below] in the marketing, purchasing and sewing process, all the while citing Austen’s many references to the fashions of the day in her letters, filled as well all know with fashion gossip! and her novels. Mary took us through the process of purchasing the materials, choosing styles, finding a dressmaker, and the costs – i.e. nothing off the racks in Austen’s time!  She spoke about Eleanor’s white gowns and other color options, types of fabrics and where they came from and the stores that sold them.  Then a few words on undergarments, laundering, remaking and dying, and how one can never have “too much trim”!  A lovely and informative talk! and now some pictures of the beautifully clad listeners:

fashion doll

Syrie James and Bonnie Wise

Kimberly Brangwin

Pat Panshin

the always lovely Baronda Bradley!

******* 

And here, one of the rare negatives at a JASNA event but have to mention because I was so stunned! – Mary did not expect such a large audience [149!] and came without enough handouts – a facsimile of La Belle Assemblee [100], a booklet of fashion samples [50], and a regency fashion illustration with samples [50] – before Mary finished her Q&A, several people started going up front to get a handout – raging mutiny from the ranks! – they returned to their seats abashed [but with their booty…] and I turned to the woman next to me and said “Oh dear! This is going to be like a bra sale at Filene’s basement!” [what are the chances that this woman used to actually work at a Filene’s basement! – yikes!] and sure enough, as soon as Mary gave the go, a mad rush to the front, pushing and grabbing and quite appalling really! – who would have thought this lovely sedate group [and some so fashionably attired] could turn into such a greedy rabble! – yikes again!

On to Elvira Casel – always expected to present a thought-provoking topic, this time on “The Abduction of Catherine Morland: Deception, Sex and Courtship in Northanger Abbeyshe began with first eliminating any expectations that this talk would be about “SEX” – sex is inferred in Austen but that courtship process is full of sexual overtones in being all about finding a sexual / life partner –  and the sex part dealt with, she talked about “how honest people can negotiate a world that is often dishonest.” Casal gives us a Henry and a John Thorpe as rivals in the first part of the book – Thorpe’s abduction of Catherine tantamount to a gothic rape, his insidious lies, though propelling the plot, are ineffective because Catherine is on to him early on – and Henry’s immediate attraction to Catherine [who asked for that introduction from Mr. King after all?!], their conversation of the dance showing their developing relationship – Catherine might be puzzled but she does understand that Henry is defining his values, his idea of commitment.  Casal posits Henry and Thorpe as would-be narrators – Thorpe’s “fictions” propel the plot, but it is Henry as the true narrator / storyteller – he is very attuned to others, but there are concerns about his controlling nature – it is he who introduces the gothic story to Catherine, he stimulates her imagination – he is culpable here – but Casal sees Henry as ceasing to be the narrator when he seeks to be the hero in Catherine’s own story in the making.  During the Q&A, she said what I thought was the most interesting point in her argument:  Henry Tilney most resembles Elizabeth Bennet as a character – they both use humor to distance themselves from pain, disguising their true feelings.

Fourth session [wow! My brain is totally taxed – McMaster’s “closet” of clutter, and completely disordered!]

Susan Allen Ford on “Ingenious Torments: Reading Instructive Texts in Northanger Abbey– Professor Ford, who is working on a book about what Austen’s characters are reading focused on the didactic texts inherent in Northanger Abbey – those specifically mentioned or inferred: Mrs. Morland’s Mirror, with info on John Homespun and family [i.e Henry McKenzie of The Man of Feeling fame] as “cousins” of the Morlands  – plain country folk, yet Mrs. Morland’s inadequacy as a parent in her oft-quoted platitudes and clichés of life; the Richardson footnote on woman’s behavior in courtship; and finally Jane Collier’s An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting, a satiric anti-conduct book.  Collier outlines the various human relationships, emphasizing the aspects of teasing and torment  [recall Catherine’s historians “labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls”] in all these relationships.  Prof. Ford talks of Austen’s use of the word “torment” – Henry four times, Catherine three, how Isabella personifies the “tormenting” by a friend, the extent of General Tilney “tormenting” Mrs. Tilney.  In the end, Austen mocks the prevailing didactic texts of the time by showing their inadequacies “for the emotional tortures in friendship, courtship and family relationships.”

 

End of breakouts! – so much learned,  so much missed – look forward to Persuasions On-line [December 2010]  and Persuasions 32 [May 2011] to fill in the gaps!

And then, the Banquet and Ball – the AGM had more fashionable Ladies and Gentlemen than I have ever seen – some elaborate Regency, some outrageous costumes for the Bal Masque – my costume still the “pattern-in-the-bag state – only a black velvet Spencer over a long dress – best I could do, but certainly not Promenade material! – which was great because I could just stand there and take pictures.  Dinner was great fun – we had a fun table and met all manner of Austen bloggers and web masters:  Sue Forgue of Regency Encyclopedia [contact me for passwords]; Diana Birchall of Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma fame and her blog “Light, Bright and Sparkling”- we bonded on our “born and bred” in New York heritage; she introduced me to Ellen Moody, long known to me from the Austen listservs – I marvel at her Calendars of the novels – so great to meet  her – we also bonded on our “born and bred” in New York heritage!… others across the table beyond the hollering needed to hear – will get in touch with them via email – then off to see the Promenade, a fiasco of elevator limitations, so no parading about the streets of Portland for this year – no matter, the foyer and ballroom were quite fine to exhibit the finery!  pictures follow with names of those I got permission from – I did go into the Monster Mash event for a bit to hear the three different talks on the gothic – but headed back to the room for a needed respite – alas! my skills at English Country Dance to be exhibited next year! – and again, more and more people up there dancing this year – this is a wonderful trend at the AGMs – back to the sewing machine and ECD instruction for me!

 

Laurel Ann and Laurie Viera Rigler

absolutely stunning!

Syrie James and husband Bill

Diana Birchall

Baronda and Eric

a perfect Phantom!

Debbie Aldous and Christina Boyd

lovely in purple!

and friend”]

Tim Bullamore and friend

Jo Ann and Philip Staples

“]

Liz Cooper

Ceil and Bob Huntington

Lorraine and William Hanaway

Carol Moss - JASNA webmaster!

Laurel Ann and her roomie!

Portland at night...

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Portland AGM – Day Two ~ I first refer to Laurel Ann’s post at Austenprose for her take on Day 2 – we did a lot together, but also tried to attend different break-out sessions –  so here is a quick summary of my day two: I should start this by saying something about my love of Northanger Abbey – it took me few readings, over a few years, but now I count it as one of my favorites, Catherine an engaging heroine and Henry quite to-die-for and Austen more on her game than she is often given credit for – you can read this former post about my thoughts on NA, rather than repeat all that – but just wanted to emphasize how much I was looking forward to this AGM and it most certainly exceeded my expectations!

I was completely bummed that I had to miss the Team Tilney offering headed by Maggie “‘Da Man” Sulllivan and thankfully Laurel Ann shared the happenings with me – I had to go off to a THREE hour [yikes!] regional coordinator training session, which was great – some new people, some old friends, some great new ideas – Claire Bellanti, VP of Regions gave an inspiring meeting – and we all left with plans for new programs and ways to connect with each other in our varying attempts to bring Jane Austen into the lives of the folks in our respective regions.  Claire had us all introduce the person next to us and we each had to share what book, other than of course any Austen, we would want with us if stranded on a desert island – interesting responses [perhaps a future post]!

After a quick lunch with Laurel Ann, we headed into the official AGM opening, hearing President Marsha Huff on her love of Northanger Abbey; the JAS Secretary Maureen Stiller who spoke of the loss this year of two great Austen scholars Elizabeth Jenkins and Brian Southam; and Steve Lawrence from Chawton House Library and Joan Ray thanking members for their generosity to the NAFCHL [North American Friends of Chawton House Library] –

and then on to the Plenary speaker Stephanie Barron, noted  author of the Jane Austen mysteries, on Suspicious Characters, Red Herrings, and Unreliable Detectives: Elements of Mystery in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey – a delightful talk on the mystery elements in Austen, a crime in every novel, the heroine as solver, the detectives and pseudo-detectives, and the final restoration of order.  Barron quotes W. H. Auden and his three requirements of a mystery novel, all present in Austen’s works: a closed society; a state of innocence with the “crime” committed by a fallen member of the society; and the societal ritual that the criminal has knowledge of in order to commit the crime, but is overcome by one of superior knowledge who restores order [thankfully!] -  Barron then applies this pattern to Northanger Abbey – the investigators, the clues, the red herrings – Henry as the consummate detective, Catherine as ignoring the clues, Isabella the dropper of clues, John Thorpe as the red herring, General Tilney as the fallen one – with Henry finally restoring order, Catherine all the while gaining understanding of the male world, “penetrating the veil” as in all good gothic novels.  Barron ended her talk with a comment on the Kathryn Sutherland kerfuffle about one’s editors [you can read more about it here], a reference to her short story to be part of Laurel Ann’s Jane Austen short story anthology Jane Made Me Do It [we all whooped! Laurel Ann swooned!], and answered some questions on her latest book Jane Austen and the Madness of Lord Byron – she spoke about following Austen’s chronological real life in the writing of her fictional mystery series, and oh! what will happen in 1817.  All in all quite a wonderful introduction to this year’s AGM!

Then off to the first of many break-out sessions – and what a task to choose! – each session offering such variety and depth – the choice so difficult – I decided to do at least one on the gothic literary features of NA, one on fashion and all that muslin, and of course, something on Henry Tilney.  So my first was to hear the ever interesting Janine Barchas on The Real Bluebeard of Bath: A Historical Model for Northanger Abbey a brilliant tour through the nightmarish history of the Farley-Hungerford Castle, within driving distance form Bath, and a place that Austen would likely have visited or known about in her time in Bath. Professor Barchas shared the words in a contemporary guidebook, Richard Warner’s Excursions from Bath [1801], a book known to have been in George Austen’s library and containing Jane’s marginalia – and here we have some real-life gothic tales about what went on in Farley Castle and may have served as Austen’s inspiration for her own Abbey story, truth of course being far more bizarre than fiction!

Then off to see Stephanie Eddleman on “Henry Tilney: Austen’s Feminized Hero?” – One of the things that can get my dander up in a discussion about NA is talk that Henry is too feminine to be a true hero, or too condescending to be an equal lover to Catherine, or too distant as a character to engage the reader – so I was hoping that Prof. Eddleman would give me much needed ammunition! – and she did indeed:  Henry as the one hero who stands apart – he is her only witty hero; he is feminized but not feminine, and unlike Austen’s other feminized male characters [Frank Churchill, Robert Ferrars], Austen is not critical of Henry.  I most appreciated Eddleman’s answer to Marvin Mudrick’s contention that Henry is a detached, disengaged character – she feels that Henry develops intimacy through his intelligence and wit, always encouraging Catherine toward her own independent thinking.  I hope this talk will be in Persuasions – it gives much needed support for Henry as True & Worthy Austen Hero.

With all these great thoughts swimming around in my head, off we ran to the Portland Art Museum for the General Reception with the Wild Rose Garland Dancers – we arrived slightly behind schedule and found long lines for food and drink – Laurel Ann off for food, I did drinks – the long line frustration only lessened by a gentleman who told me all about his breakout session by James Nagle on “Dismemberment in the Library with the Quill Pen” – all about Regency succession rules, primogeniture, entails, etc. – Laurel Ann also went to this, so between the two of them I felt as though I had not missed this obviously interesting and entertaining talk – so this made the line move – we ate and drank and stood for the dancers as there was not a seat in sight – the dancers quite lovely and great fun to watch – here are a few pictures [with apologies for the dark and motion]:

Wild Rose Garland Dancers

the woman who would not sit down

The Dancers and the Players

“]

Sneakers- for my son

Player Gerhardt Quast on his Bodhron

[with thanks for letting me take a picture of his sneakers for my son!]

Next to me, however, was a woman who said she was sorely distracted by the distant statue of a rather large naked man [rear view only] – pictures duly taken, much laughter around and we were lost in the giggles for the rest of the evening [too much wine perhaps and not enough food?] – I see that Laurel Ann posted on this and the woman left a comment, so we are glad to have found her – and send you thanks Brenda for making our evening! – not that the dancers were not fabulous – we were just giddy at this point and who could resist!

 I regret not taking more photos of the museum offerings – I see that Diana Birchall has several on her blog – so I send you over there for a peak to Light Bright and Sparkling.  And you can view the Museum website as well.

And then the evening not nearly over – back to the hotel for the author book signings and to hear Jeff Nigro’s talk on Mystery Meets Muslin: Regency Gothic Dress in Art, Fashion and the Theatre.”  Jeff is the new RC for the Chicago Region and had spoken at that AGM two years ago on Art – so here again, another interesting visual treat about art and fashion and the literary and theatrical world of Austen’s time – I am not sure I will ever look at the art of the period the same ever again, or at least trust what I am looking at! – I am not even sure I can understand my notes! – so much information in this talk! – the mixing and matching of styles in the historical and contemporary works of art, with an emphasis on the “Gothick Picturesque”, the eclectic Regency gothic – Nigro shows that Austen’s Northanger Abbey is itself an eclectic mix, an overlapping of genres, as encompassed in both the Thomson and Brock illustrations. This was such a visual tour, one must see it to appreciate it, and not well described without the visual piece to accompany it – I would dearly love to get Jeff to visit Vermont and share his love of the arts with us…

So Day Two –who knew that just sitting around and absorbing all things Austen could be so invigorating and exhausting!  I will add this – hanging out with Laurel Ann had many perks! – the book she is editing involves a number of great Austenesque authors who have each contributed a story to the anthology [see Austenprose for details] – but while I have been attending AGMs for a number of years and was happy to introduce Laurel Ann to a number of JASNA people [and as soon as they understood she is the force behind Austenprose they all nearly genuflected!] – but her contacts with her authors was a treat for me to be introduced and spend some time with them as well – I have a few pictures of them and append them here with links to their sites – great writers all who embrace Austen in their own imaginative ways – I look forward to Laurel Ann’s book publication [alas! not until next October – just in time for the Fort Worth AGM!] – so thank you Laurel Ann for this – great fun all around!

Syrie James, Laurel Ann Nattress, and Cindy Jones

Syrie James and her husband Bill were a delight to meet – she costumed every day and he for the ball [will save the elaborate ball dress for tomorrow!] – Syrie has authored The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte [we bonded on a mutual love of Jane Eyre], and Dracula, My Love [on my TBR pile -I hear it is great!]  Visit her website here.

Cindy Jones has a new book coming out [March 29, 2011] My Jane Austen Summer: A Season at Mansfield Park - we had a great chat and I look forward to reading her book - please visit her blog at First Draft to learn more about her and her forthcoming  book. Cindy is also blogging at the new Austen Author’s blog.

Marsha Huff, Laurel Ann Nattress, Laurie Viera Rigler

Marsha Huff is, of course, JASNA President – this is her last AGM as head of the troops, and she has now passed on the torch to Iris Lutz from the Tucson Region – it has been a wonderful four years with Marsha and we will miss her – but I don’t think she will wander very far from the activities!  In this picture, she has just given Laurel Ann her JASNA Life Member pin! - so congrats to Laurel Ann on this!

Laurie Viera Rigler needs no introduction, but you can view her website here and her blog here - always a sheer pleasure to spend time with Laurie – but alas! no gossip on her next book – we must content ourselves for now with her “Sex and the Austen Girl” creations [such a punishment...]

And I will close with another fashionista picture of Rebecca Morrison-Peck, one of the Emporium vendors – you can visit her shop at Etsy here:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/thethatchedcottage, where you will find all manner of Regency fashion pieces.  I was quite disappointed to try on two lovely spencers – one too large, the other too small – so will wait for another day to adorn myself – I purchased a Regency dress pattern three years ago , and that is as far as I have gotten – my Singer retains its dust and I think I should just give in and buy something from one of these far more talented mantuamakers!

Rebecca Morrison-Peck - The Thatched Cottage

Vic, who we sorely missed and hope one of these days to meet at an AGM, has posted links on her Jane Austen Today blog to several of the AGM posts already out there – so check out the thoughts and pictures of everyone else! … and finally,

Stay-tuned for tomorrow, Day Three and the Ball fashions! – I think this was the most costumed AGM yet!

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Oh! where to begin?! As always, after a complete immersion into the long 18th-century, one is a bit befuddled for a few days, and notes, photographs, memories, and remembered conversations seem to exist in some parallel universe.  Since I am also on the road, and currently sitting in an airstream camper in the throes of a raging wind and rain storm pummeling the Oregon coast, I really AM not sure which universe I am in right now… so bear with me, as I try to do justice to the phenomenal JASNA Portland AGM! – four full days all about Northanger Abbey!

This is the first AGM I have attended without my best buddy Sara. We have been doing these annual gatherings since 1996 whenever our ridiculous schedules have allowed, but alas! this year, she was unable to be a part of it, so I ventured into potentially disastrous waters and suggested to Laurel Ann of Austenprose that we, though known to each other only through our respective Jane Austen blogs these past two+ years, we do not really know each other – I promised her a clean and neat, overly chatty, mildly snoring companion, and we decided to give it a go.  I have only been given a brief glimpse of Laurel Ann on her blog where she posted a picture of herself along side stack of Austen books in her employer Barnes & Noble store, but as I was walking down the street I spotted her a mile away and a new real time friendship was begun.  We of course got off to a beginning totally fitting for the promised weekend of “Mystery, Mayhem, and Muslin” by promptly getting stuck in the elevator – just the two of us – it stopped mid floor somewhere, lights went out, and then nothing, I mean nothing, for what of course seemed like ten minutes but was perhaps at most only thirty seconds – and then it started again – we thought this might be part of the ambience – but certainly never used THAT elevator again for the rest of the weekend [we did report it and saw no ill effects upon any other AGMers] – we did look around for a dead body, but then remembered there was only mystery, mayhem and muslin for the weekend, Murder not mentioned…

So for me, off to a meeting with the Persuasions editor, Susan Allen Ford, where we ended up conversing with one of the AGM volunteers on the joys of Georgette Heyer, had to shake ourselves to return to Jane – and then off to the Milsom Street Emporium – this year with lots of room, wonderful exhibitors – JASNA Regions tables [you should support them], Chawton House Library [you should join], Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine [you should subscribe], antique shops, fashion displays, accessories for sale, and of course, my hangout, the BOOKS – Jane Austen Books and Traveler’s Tales [no website].  After loading up too many bags that caused worry to my back – off we went to the Portland Public Library for the exhibit “Lit Chicks: Verbal and Visual Satire in the Age of Jane Austen”  - first editons of Northanger Abbey, Emma, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park, several items of Frances Burney and other Regency works, and a number of Gillray’s cartoons – all this presented by Paula Stepankowsky, Marian La Beck and James Petts in the “Collins Gallery” – no relation to our Mr.Collins as far as we could tell – but the beauty of the architecture would more than have impressed even Lady Catherine.  Here are a few pictures of some of the books, a Francis Burney letter and a sampling of Gillray at his best –a wonderful collection and would like to have spent more time here without the crowd … I am hoping that a catalogue of the exhibition will be made available.

Repository of Arts, Literature and Fashion

Frances Burney Diary and Letters

Burney letter

Gillray's take on the Prince Regent

A quick dinner with Laurel Ann at Pastini’s – perfect Italian meal, Chianti and all … and rush back to see the evening presentation by Angela Barlow, actress, in “Jane Austen and Character: An Actor’s View.” – Barlow gave us all a pure display of her talents, from invoking Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Elton, to conveying to us the joys of being an actor and bringing a character of Austen’s to life, of reading the “temperature” of a character [how different the temperatures of a Fanny Price and a Catherine Morland!] – how her first advice to an actor is to “READ THE BOOK!” [oh! thank goodness!] – and after a delightful journey through a variety of Austen’s characters and musings on Austen as narrator, Barlow closed with an appreciation of Austen’s courage in her choice of heroines.  I was too far away to get a good shot, but if you ever have a chance to see Ms. Barlow, in anything, get thee hence to the theater! – I for one, would clammer for her as Mrs. Bennet – just perfect!

Angela Barlow

First day nearly done! Exhausted and happy – and then long chats with Laurel Ann to end the day!

Some pictures of the Milsom Street Emporium:

reticules galore!

 Cottleston-Pye English Antiques, where I bought a blue and white coffee cup to add to my blue and white collection

And some photos of a fashion display, all hand-made costumes by a JASNA member  – I don’t think I have ever seen such loveliness outside of a museum:





More AGM musings tomorrow!

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