As research for writing a YA about Hortense, I’m reading a lot about Jane Austen right now—or, at the least, I seem to be surrounded by books and blogs about her. Yes, I admit, I’m seeking her out.
For example, this wonderful website: What Jane Saw, an exhibit she actually went to see. Follow in her footsteps; look at the paintings she saw.
I’m reading—very, very slowly—the Harvard University Press annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice (shown above). This is a sumptuous book, a sumptuous series. (For a video on this book: click here.)
Another book I’m reading is The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne: delicious.
“Why Jane?” my son asks, and I have to tell him frankly that I don’t think she’d be his cup of tea. But then neither might be Dickens or Shakespeare, at least not in his fast-paced world. In a University course: certainly. And then, forced into another time and pace (the beauty of higher education), he might think, “Wow.” For she’s right up there with the greats of literature.
This in spite of the fact that she is so very subtle, so not showy. Who was it who said—I think it was Virginia Woolf—that it’s very hard to catch Jane Austen in an act of greatness.
She wrote during the day, and read what she’d written to her family in the evening. She did not have a desk of her own, much less a room.
It’s a mistake to think that her’s was a purer world. The worlds she created are pure, yet a man she and her sister admired, a nobleman, had a strange affection for drinking the blood of his servants. (Note that such details do not show in her novels.)
For Mother’s Day, my son suggested I pick a t-shirt from this wonderful site: Out of Print Clothing.
Which one did I pick? Well, of course: Pride and Prejudice:
I love it! (And no: this is not me.)
What’s your favourite Jane Austen? And why?