Frederick Childe Hassam (1859-1935), summer flowers, a natural garden scene
I've two subjects tonight. To begin with, happy things.
Today I continued writing the book. I managed to add only a few sentences, perhaps got into a second paragraph, but I am disciplining myself so that I can hope what I write is not something that weeks from now will be rewritten so thoroughly as to be utterly different and in another place in the work altogether. Instead it's closer to a final draft.
I am doing this by thinking ahead first, having a plan of sorts, following it. It goes slow as yet because I have to keep so much in my head and having read through but some of the criticism on S&S for a half a week in mid-May, I've forgotten a lot. I am you see beginning with the opening of Chapter 2 which is to be a presentation of Austen's book which conveys the tones of the book and its quality, for these are central to any effective, successful film adaptation. At the same time I have to be moving forward to discussing the 5 movies, and to write two sentences today I had to read part of an article on Christine Edzard's adaptation of Dickens's Little Dorrit, skim-read into the middle of Hutcheon's excellent A Theory of Adaptation. I also listened very carefully for the first time to the whole of interview Andrew Davies and Anne Pivcevic gave, which is recorded as part of the features material in the British DVD of their 2008 S&S.
Nonetheless, I am feeling this experience as a happy thing. Hours go by and maybe I've hardly written much at all; probably I've allowed myself some distraction by fixing one of my blogs or reading a file, or looking at the stills of these movies -- some of which I seem never to tire of. And while this is going on I'm feeling happy, happy about what I'm donig, good about the eventual product.
I don't always feel this way about what I'm writing. I didn't over the Clarissa paper as the man running the panel was at first discourteous to me and condescending and then continually pressured me to make sure it wasn't over long. (And to add frustration to hurt, our panel had one woman who took so long and was so unprepared that there was no discussion afterwards and had I not gone 2nd I doubt I would have been able to give my paper.) Sometimes I discover I dislike the book I'm asked to review or find the review I write is not appreciated; the work is then an irritant or I become emotionally sore. Happy things are when I love my subject, and am feeling treated with respect and friendliness. My half-biography and songs by Anne Finch, "Apollo's Muse" was a happy thing. Some of the reviews I've done for Jim May have been very happy things. I loved writing the paper on Northanger Abbey as gothic: the three women running the panel were so kind and the whole experience cheering and provided me with a feeling of self-esteem as I gave the paper and because of the congenial discussion afterwards.
Well The Austen Films is turning into a happy thing. I do love these books and these films.
I turn to laughter. Sometimes when I think about our two cats, Ian, the boy, and Clarissa, the girl, I just laugh and laugh. Especially Clarissa: she is the most determined, tenacious, stubborn, aggressively affectionate, tenderly loving of cats. Lithe, small, active, she leaps ahead and will try to get what she wants against what she knows to be whatever we are trying to do. We had to shut her and Ian in the back half of the house when the man came to fix the porch. Well when we opened the door to the back part of the house, she sped out like lightning, and then dove under the couch and fought us holding onto the couch feet to stay where she was. She didn't want to be in the back of the house and that's that. I laugh at her helplessness I suppose, it's an endearing trait I fear -- when accompanied by her others. Sometimes when I'm swimming in the gym I remember her antics and start to chuckle away irresistibly.
Ian doesn't make me laugh; rather he can touch the heart with his cautious hiding ways. He scrounches before you to get what he wants. Self-possessed he still comes over for affection and at night in the bed is still my cat lover, stretching his body out alongside mine with his paw gently on my face. Jim too another photo of him today: the paperback Clarissa and the whole Richardson section is on a bookcase near JIm's chair in the front so it's easy to take such a photo. Ian likes to lay between the rows of books on top of the bookcase; the books form a very long narrow rectangle inside of which is a long corridor of space. He lays there hiding and also watching the sky, for it's also on the other end near a window. He had just got up and was looking at Jim reading or on his computer:
What made us laugh at little is his size. Clarissa is an enormous paperback of 1500 pages, a folio size. It barely accommodates his paws.
We compared it to a photo Jim took of Clarissa on Clarissa about 8 months ago when they were both about
5-6 months old.
Her whole body is perched on the book.
We also compared their expressions, hers as usual a kind of yearning, his contemplative, relatively expressionless. How are these pictures part of a blog dedicated to Reveries under the sign of Austen? Jane Austen it's said kept a copy of Clarissa in her and Classandra's bedroom, on top of their bureau. We are told that she too found writing her books happy things and would get up from her chair and laugh and walk about and then sit down again. Olivia Williams in Miss Austen Regrets plays the part too nervously to get across this Bachelard-like state of deep-musing reverie, but I prefer its intense seriousness to the insouciance of Anna Hathaway's enactment of a woman at her desk writing:
Olivia Williams as Jane Austen writing (Miss Austen Regrets)