Wednesday, July 27, 2011


~ dear jane, many of us, well, we women certainly, and also a generous helping of english professors and austen fanatics, have read your work. (many more have watched your books-turned-into-movies on a newfangled thing called television.) for a person who lived two hundred years ago you were remarkably ahead of your time. the brontes didn't have kind words for your prose, but henry james and many others did. and so do i. your house has changed; your garden is considerably smaller, your orchard is gone, but don't worry, the ladies have done a nice job—it's still quite a pleasant place. ~

jane austen wrote about what she saw in and around the villages where she lived; she wrote about life as she knew it, and even though nothing too dramatic happened in her imaginary world (except things like who was marrying who), that was the point, wasn't it—austen wrote with shrewdness and quiet satire about women's daily existence, a slice of the social order, her chapters filled with well-off young ladies, sometimes silly, sometimes not, who loved the latest fashions, learned to paint and play the pianoforte (if they were like jane, they would be encouraged to pursue their yearning for a richer education), filled the hours with social events and spent most of their time searching for a husband (beware of the perils lurking in that endeavor!). hmm, in some ways not unlike life today.

on the windowsills at chawton cottage vases of freshly cut flowers from the garden delight the eye, a simple homey touch which charms away the centuries and makes the cottage feel more like a lived-in home than a museum, as if jane were about to sit in her chair by the window overlooking the main thoroughfare and begin writing at her little table. (ha, her inkwell needs to be refilled first.)

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