A Jane Austen Triple-Play in Montreal!

No, I am not talking about Baseball or Hockey [though I am very pleased to see the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals!] –  these endless sport finals have nothing to do with Jane Austen after all [but can we assume that Catherine Morland likely played some form of hockey on a pond in her village…?]

This “Triple-Play” was a lovely “An Afternoon with Jane Austen” in a Montreal micro-brewery where members of JASNA-Montreal / Quebec celebrated Jane Austen with cheese, chocolate and BEER! – all the while listening to three lectures about Jane: 

JASNA President Marsha Huff’s lovely “Viewing Austen through Vermeer’s Camera Obscura” and assisted by Helen Mayer and Peter Sabor as readers [always nice to hear Captain Wentworth’s heart-stopping letter read aloud by a gentleman with the proper accent!]; McGill Professor Peter Sabor gave his Philadelphia AGM talk on “Brotherly and Sisterly Dedications in Jane Austen’s Juvenilia”; and  Professor Elaine Bander of Dawson College spoke on “Revisiting Northanger Abbey at Chawton”.

I confess to actually having heard EACH of these talks – but much like re-reading Austen herself, a few hours of re-listening to others talk ABOUT her is a double treat not to be missed whenever possible [and interesting to see the variations in my notes from each talk!] – and connecting with other Austen fans, coupled with a few shots of beer makes for a perfect afternoon!

Huff’s Austen / Vermeer talk is a wonderful exploration into several of Vermeer’s paintings, building on what Sir Walter Scott wrote in his review of Emma where he likened Austen’s talents to the Flemish School of Painting.  Huff offer’s a visual comparison with Vermeer’s “The Concert” to the party at the Cole’s in Emma; “The Music Lesson” with Elizabeth performing at Rosings for Col. Fitzwilliam and Darcy; “Lady Reading a Letter” to the various scenes in Austen of heroines reading letters: Elinor, Fanny, Emma, Ann Elliot, and Elizabeth – these are just a few examples, and one must see and hear this talk to really see the connections.  Marsha has been touring all of North America in her term as JASNA President, and if you get a chance to see this, get thee hence to it immediately [and do so even if you have already heard it – it gets better each time!]  [Note that she will be doing this talk for our JASNA-Vermont group on September 26, 2010]

[We all clamor for publication of this talk, but Ms. Huff believes there would be copyright issues with the paintings.  You can visit the very complete and indeed “essential” website Essential Vermeer to see all his works [and source of above image of  “Girl with a Pearl Earring”]

Peter Sabor teaches at the Department of English at McGill University, where he is Canada Research Chair in Eighteenth-Century Studies and Director of the Burney Centre.  He has recently edited the Cambridge University edition of Austen’s Juvenilia, and the Juvenilia Press editions of Evelyn (1999) and Frederic and Elfrida (2002).  He is currently working on a new biography of Austen.

As many of us know, Austen dedicated only one of her novels to anyone – Emma to the Prince Regent, and likely much against her will!  But her juvenilia have dedications all over the place! – and eleven of these are to her brothers and Cassandra.  Are they ironic or reflective of the fictional characters?  Professor Sabor offers an amusing and scholarly take on the mind of the young Austen and her relationships with each of her siblings. [Note that Prof. Sabor will be giving this talk to our JASNA-Vermont group at our annual Birthday Tea on December 5, 2010 – though he might be changing this as we get closer as this talk is in the just-arrived-in-your-mailbox Persuasions 31 [pp. 33-45]– so you can read all about it, though lacking Sabor’s not-to-be-missed lively delivery…]

Juvenilia Press edition

Elaine Bander is one of my favorite AGM speakers – whatever the topic of the Break-out Session, I go if she is the headliner.  [Professor Bander is Regional Coordinator of JASNA / Montreal-Quebec, and President of JASNA-Canada; she is currently on the editorial board for Persuasions] – she gave this talk this past summer at Chawton, and also in Boston in the fall – her blurb for this talk:

In “Catharine,” the last of the Juvenilia, Austen shifts from the mocking fictional conventions through burlesque to dramatizing misreadings through the character of Camilla Stanley, who is contrasted to the sensible heroine Catharine Percival.  In Northanger Abbey, the only pre-Chawton novel still essentially in its pre-Chawton form, the narrator, not the heroine, has quixotic expectations, while Catherine Morland, resolutely empirical, is [briefly] led astray not by literature but by love.

Indeed Dr. Bander gives Catherine all due credit for being a worthy heroine, eschewing those critics who find her too innocent or silly:  Catherine observes, reflects, then chooses her course throughout the book, and it is only when Henry comes into the picture that her sound judgments are disturbed – you can read this article also in the new Persuasions [pp.209-219]

After these three thought-provoking talks [and always nice to end with images of Henry Tilney!] – the McAuslan Brewing Company  in Montreal offered a tasting feast of five McAuslan beers, two beer cheeses, and dark chocolate – much Austen chat ensued as we opined on the various beers to be tasted, and this fabulous afternoon ended with a very happy crowd wandering out into the windy, rain-soaked streets!

Available through JASNA-Montreal/Quebec Region is Dr. Bander’s pamphlet written for this special event:  Jane Austen and … Beer?  [Montreal:  Hartfield Editions, 2010].   [There are also two other pamphlets by Dr. Bander:  In Defence of Fanny Price [2006] [a must-read for everyone!] and On Drinking Tea in Jane Austen’s Novels [2002]; contact me if you are interested in any of these and I will forward your request to the Montreal Region]

[Posted by Deb]

3 thoughts on “A Jane Austen Triple-Play in Montreal!

  1. Pingback: The aesthetics of domesticity: a parallel between Jane Austen and Johannes Vermeer | Jane Austen's Microcosm

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