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Dear friends and readers,

How I feel for her.  Two days later.  Her problem is not simply no one, not a soul provides enough money for a fare for her to go home (not a dime), no one will take the full time or effort to accompany her. We remember that she has been forbidden the coach. Her letters trying to arrange something for herself are ignored, not answered, not care enough about. She has written to two people who do not answer. She has no phone: there's nothing like a peremptory voice to get someone to respond. She has only letters and these do not arrive with the immediately of an email. She is stranded.

Her reference to her father coming until "he wishes me to walk the Hospitals, Enter at the Temple, or mount guard at St James" shows how she is remembering how her brothers all have places in the world and she none.

I have been listening to MP, the part where Edmund has arranged that Fanny is to go to Sotherton, and Mrs Norris (as ever poisonous) says she is not up to taking Fanny as Mrs Rushworth has now not invited her.  Edmund counters that he talked to Mrs Rushworth and go an invitation.  The feeling though of this passage shows how Austen remembers the mortification and dread of going somewhere anyway where you have not had an invitation.

Of course the others are not thinking. Who does think of others?

I looked at a couple of the biographies I have in the house.  Frank, Nokes says (who is more detailed about the letters than most) was to join his ship immediately. Jane is actually thinking of setting off without knowing whether Miss Pearson is there.  One has to say, Why? Austen kids using novel (meaning the form) situations:  "I should inevitably fall a sacrifice to the arts of some fat woman who would make me drunk with small beer." It's an allusion to the Harlot's Progress.

Nokes thinks the family feared Jane would end up with Eliza who was in town. Mr Austen would stir himself to prevent that. Why?  The letter does not mention Eliza so this is a surmize, but suppose Miss Pearson wasn't there, and (as was not uncommon) Jane was refused entrance or told no one home.

Who wants her out so badly?  Elizabeth? I know she wants to get back.

It seems that Austen conceives of the idea of leaving with Frank ('returning with Frank") and then taking her chances as far as going with him gets her.  To wait for Henry is to wait for Deadman's Shoes.  (I remember in Victorian times many people walked long distances -- sometimes I am astonished by how long but this genteel family while not prepared to get her home, care about her chastity and reputation.  Gee thanks.

Probably I surmize it was not Elizabeth wanted her out but no one but her cared _enough_ where she was.  She does hint in 5 Sept 1796 that there is someone at home who would be glad not to be reminded of her.

Now this does make me speculate.  She was sent to London in August; it was 6 months after the Lefroy disappointment. We should remember here that Austen never saw Lefroy again after the Xmas visit of 1795.  Could she still have been showing behaviors that irritated others? Not knowing no one would allow or help towards a second chance.  My instinct is to say Probably not Lefroy, rather it's a more general desire to have her out of sight out of mind.  Her mother could it be? someone who did not know what would become of Jane she wrote.

The Mary of letter 4 has now given birth.  I sense a relief in Austen's words. The woman could have died, instead she had this "best' outcome: the boy.

Cassandra is told not to let the Lloyds go until she arrives, unless Miss P is there. Miss P is the person who did not answer her letter to help her out.

Frank will have Captain Gore under his command; Jane cannot even take a coach to get home.

We may be consoled by reading Cassandra's note that as of October 1796 Jane Austen started First Impressions, and that Mr Austen wrote a letter on November 1, 1798:

                I have in my possession a manuscript novel, comprised in three vols about the length of Miss Burney's Evelina. As I am well aware of what consequence it is that a work of this sort should make its first appearance under a respectable name, I apply to you. Shall be much obliged therefore if you will inform me whether you chuse to be concerned in it. What will be the expense of publishing at the author's risk; & what will you venture to advance for the property of it, if on a perusal, it is approved of? Should your answer give me encouragement I will send you the work.

To no avail. They couldn't be bothered. The ancien regime society with its total reliance on connections is before us. George Austen knew no one in publishing.  I don't mean to say it's much different today: you must cultivate, go to the right conferences, somehow meet an editor, get into debt over an MFA (a cash cow of colleges) &c&c

Still she did get home and spent the next two years writing the first version of P&P.  Writing over a long time like this is a profoundly transformative experience, even if you don't have anyone much to talk to who understands and can't articulate (because you've not got the vocabulary or listener) what you've learnt and felt.

I'm struck by how the movie, Becoming Jane makes Jane of importance and central; Nokes mentions how much money Radcliffe got for The italian in 179Y (800 pounds); Becoming Jane provides us with the fantasy that Jane lived in the same house in Cork Street with Tom and he took her to meet Anne Radcliffe while he visited William, the journalist.  It's just the opposite of what happened in real life where Jane's are the last wishes to be followed -- like Anne Elliot

I know Radcliffe became a total recluse after the publication of The Italian but it's such a pleasant dream I reprint the stills.
I'm pleased to see the film-makers know about Radcliffe and Austen's love of her work.

Ellen Moody


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 26th, 2011 02:13 am (UTC)
Christy's commentary
Jane Austen's capital D meanderings lead right into what is, for me, at this time of her life, a very clear expression on her attachment and dependence to her two brothers, Frank and Edward. Frank's naval life will always carry the threat of unexpected changes; and, where plans will need to be altered
creatively. I think Cassandra loved JA's references here:

>My Father will be so good as to fetch home his prodigal Daughter from Town, I hope, unless he wishes me to walk the Hospitals, Enter at the Temple, or mount Guard at St. James. It will hardly be in Frank's power to take me home; nay, it
certainly will not. I shall write again as soon as I get to Greenwich.- What dreadful Hot weather we have!-It keeps one in a continual state of Inelegance.-If Miss Pearson should return with me, pray be careful not to expect too much Beauty. I will not pretend to say that on a first veiw, she quite answered the opinion I had formed of her.-My Mother I am sure will be
disappointed, if she does not take great care. From what I remember of her picture, it is no great resemblance. I am very glad that the idea of returning with Frank occurred to me, for as to Henry's coming into Kent again, the time of its taking place is so very uncertain, that I should be waiting for Dead-men's Shoes. I had once determined to go with Frank to-morrow and take my chance & c.; but they dissuaded me from
so rash a step-as I really think on consideration it would have been; for if the Pearsons were not at home, I should inevitably fall a Sacrifice to the arts of some fat Woman who would make me drunk with Small Beer.-<

Thank you Nancy, for writing on the "Sacrifice to the arts.." reference. I also looked up the 'Dead-men's Shoes' reference and found where it originated:

"But yet 'tis tedious waiting dead-men's shoes. ..." Palsgrave, Ac, G. 2. 1540.for letter 7.

>Mary is brought to bed of a Boy; both doing very well. I shall leave you to guess what Mary, I mean.-<

DLF says she might be a Mary Robinson, but the dates seem not to fit.

>How ill I have written. I begin to hate myself.....The Triton is a new 32 Frigate, just launched at Deptford.-Frank is much pleased with the prospect of having Capt: Gore under his command.<

Like Derrick, I also see elements here which remind me strongly of those Fanny and William moments in MP.

This letter is the last one to Cassandra until two years later. Much happens during this time frame. We have a brief condolence letter to Philadelphia Walter in 8 April 1798.

Henry loses Mary Pearson, and gains Eliza de Feuillide 31 Dec 1797. James marries Mary Lloyd, 17 Jan 1797; And, she will be almost ready to give birth when we come to the next saved letter to Cassandra, 24 Oct 1798. Cassandra's Fiance dies in Feb 17 97 and Jane Cooper-Williams dies in a terrible accident, 9 August 1798. From Cassandra's later memorandum JA commenced writing First Impressions in October 1796.

Jan. 26th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
Some awareness of Austen's condition
I think Jane has fun with the beginning of this letter -- all the alliteration of D's. It had been the custom to capitalize nouns inn the German fashion- which explains some of the inexplicable( to people of the 20th-21st century) capitalizations in her letters when they are printed as written. Some editions of the novels and letters have regularized the capitalization. Doubt , Deliberation, Difficulties, Day.

Then we have Event-- this could have been capitalized for emphasis or because it was often capitalized. Frank has rec'd his appointment to a ship. The appointment nullifies all plans.

Jane also has the problem of waiting to know if another person can accommodate the change of plans. Those of you who can jump in a car and go where you wish or have full purses and can pay your fare wherever you wish can not know the frustration of having to be dependent on others in this matter. Jane's circumstances and her lack of
financial resources made her unable to just pick up and go.

It does appear that this business of getting home is a worry to her for she mentions staying in town to study for a profession-- medicine, law, or the army. I can sense frustration but not rage.

It doesn't seem to enter her head or anyone else's that Frank or Edward would give her money to take a post chaise from town home. She does mention her father
might "fetch home" his daughter.

They are suffering hot weather-- this is September! I like the line"It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance." More elegant than saying"it makes me sweat
like a horse."

Again and again in this letter, Jane returns to the matter of going home. She was dissuaded from going to town with Frank and trusting to luck that the Pearsons would be at home and welcome her. She says that if she had done that she might have fallen victim to the "fat woman who would make me fat with small beer." This is a reference to cartoons and beliefs that motherly looking women often stood around th e inns where the stages from the country came and went. They would light on the young maids coming to town from the country who were bewildered and uncertain of what to do. These women would go forward and offer to help the girl. The woman would look quite respectable. She would sometimes drug and other times trick the girl so that the girl ended up in a brothel.
After being forced to service a patron or two the girl would either commit suicide or feel there was nothing more for her to do than to continue as a

Mary had a boy.
Nancy Mayer

Jan. 26th, 2011 12:16 pm (UTC)
Bitterness in Letter 7
From Diana B:

"I think as Ellen does about JA's helpless inability to get anywhere on her own. We must remember that JA is an alien, as Mark says, and that however she felt about a woman's inability to travel, it is not how we feel about it. She couldn't have known for certain that a time would come when a woman *could* be lawyer, doctor, soldier, and travel on subways and jet planes. And although I often accuse Ellen of seeing bitterness in JA where I think none exists, it does exist here. That remark about "unless [my father] wishes me to walk the Hospitals, enter at the Temple, or mount Guard
at St. James," is a joke, one of her usual making of absurdities; but it is too pointed and bitter a joke to be ignored.

And here is one clear instance (unlike Lady Susan) where JA uses her own personal experience, and transposes it in one of her novels: Fanny's inability to get back to MP is laid out through several chapters, and it is terribly like what we have already seen so much of in the letters. Of course it must hardly have been a unique experience, but the condition of all ladies, or women above the working class. In fact, JA and Fanny were luckier than a large family and Fanny was in a family with young men and friends going back and forth. Imagine the imprisonment of a young woman in a small family.

"We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us."

And now there are no more letters for eighteen months, which comprises the period of Tom Fowles's death and its aftermath.


Edited at 2011-01-26 12:18 pm (UTC)
Jan. 26th, 2011 12:26 pm (UTC)
Novel parallels; large families
I didn't see Austen as bitter so much -- but I can see how one can read that comment on her brother's having professions (things to do that are worth while and useful she might think) can be read that way. How big of her father :) I like the analogy with Fanny Price because Fanny is continually mortified, publicly too. n front of everyone else Jane Austen is seen not to be important or cared about enough by anyone. She's alive to that.

I'd say that a woman in a large family with a relatively larger income than other families could be as engulfed as any other. That's what we've seen here. She cannot escape these endless social occasions, this trivia. She is not just not given any thing else, she is not given a way out. There are more social occasions with more family members, more duties for women. And the servitude comes from her relationship to the men; all you need is one in the form of a husband to get you pregnant all the time.

I've not had time to read all the postings on other topics, but I'll say from Diana's alert, I haven't heard the tones of Lady Susan in these letters. I've seen the situation as potentially parallel to S&S, Edward's behavior as parallel to aspect of John Dashwood, a number of parallels with P&P (father, Jane and Bingley, Lydia, the officer-chasing) and now MP (Fanny Price).


Edited at 2011-01-26 12:27 pm (UTC)
Jan. 26th, 2011 12:36 pm (UTC)
Another character parallel
Another character: Fanny is not the only character whose wishes are last to be considered, if at all: so too Anne Elliot. Austen is being treated in this group as Anne Elliot was in hers.

Jan. 26th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
what dreadful hot weather we are having: a constant state of inelegance
Diana picked up on this:

"I do remember no air conditioning when I lived in New York! Even the summer Paul was a baby, and God that was such a hot summer, days and days hovering over 100, we lay in the dirty little apartment with no air and could not breathe. Those conditions were all part of the reasons I left NY - it was just untenable. Of course it's all different now.

The other big change in the '60s, don't forget, bigger than TV and air conditioning, was cheap jet travel! Don't you remember? In the '50s very occasionally and rarely, as the event of a lifetime, people would Sail to Europe on the Queen Mary. By the mid-'60s people were flying back and forth as if it was nothing. Later, flying became so common that in Paul's generation everybody began flying all around the world to friends' weddings. I remember being shocked when I first heard Cathy Enderton saying Eric was flying to Hawaii or someplace "for a wedding."

I did have these thoughts when reading Jane's famous line, " What dreadful hot weather we have! - It keeps one in a constant state of Inelegance." Two hundred years before wonderful air conditioning - or as it were, before "men and women could lie in bed another ten minutes."


To which I replied:

How I hated the heat in NYC too.

We never did discuss the line about heat in the letters. Yes she was not pressed by clocks for time -- "oh do not attack me with your watch ...." The letters after all are remarkably rich for such remnants

Jan. 26th, 2011 01:37 pm (UTC)
The self-control of an Elinor; more on the weather
Diane R:

"I too see Jane as at the mercy of other people's (men's) travel plans, having to plot, plan and put herself forward to get where she needs to be. (This seems to be a lifelong problem for her, and I have ached for her having to beg needed rides. I try to imagine what it would be like in this culture not to be allowed to have a car--and I begin to understand her plight.) She is trying to deal with it lightly and with some amusement, although one can see, from the amount of space she
devotes to the subject, that she is quite anxious to get home.

A tone of amusement seems to be her way of coping with what the frustrating, and somewhat humiliating, situation. A lesser soul might have been complaining or shouting; she's learned already to mold herself to cope with the vexations of her social world--she is a social being. She doesn't jump impulsively into action--we see her taking the advice of
friends to wait until her plans are more solidly confirmed. She has sense, not sensibility. She is Elinor, not Marianne.

I primarily see parallels to MP, though the JA of this letter comes across as less passive in dealing with her immobility than Fanny. She is writing letters, talking to people who can get her to and fro, awaiting responses, being as proactive as she can while still maintaining decorum. I also see parallels, especially, to Emma, where the women are stuck in one place and the men can come and go--the novel comments on this more than once. I see spill over into the novels, again, as JA transfers this amused tone to them.

I see a tone of amusement in her line: What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance. Inelegance is such a wonderful word here; the fact she ends the sentence with so that it rings in our ears, understated and ironic, I would say a
subtle mockery of her social milieu, shows her already a master of her style. We see how much her writing style, her control, comes from her soul, her situation in life, from a need to be self-disciplined.

I haven't much time and would love to take this letter apart word for word, but another sentence that strikes me: How ill I have written! I begin to hate myself. Here the tone is more openly flippant. But my guess is that she does think the letter is ill written--perhaps overly focused on her travel woes? We don't know. But the connection of her writing to her self concept goes, I suspect, deep--I begin to hate myself--flippant as that statement is, it has the ring of truth.

One other thing--the comments on Miss Pearson's looks. It's certainly continuous with the novels to gently mock the tendency to describe every young lady as "beautiful."
Jan. 27th, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC)
Other turns and tones
I thank Diane on list and Diana off for calling our attention to the other tones of the letters. The one that leaps out is her frustration and embarrassment (it's on display how little her point of view is paid attention to), but there are other turns in the letter.

I agree there is a sudden drawing up of the self into the famous concise: "What dread Hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance" also shows intense self-consciousness. Again she is aware of how she's looking to others. She may also look worn or frazzled by her efforts to make a ladder for herself. I agree with Diane too, Austen is not passive, but I am struck by how all her efforts get her nowhere. She has no power. (Recently I've made heroic efforts a lot to get nowhere; I'm ever coming up against my lack of any power where it counts; I've nothing to offer in return to make the other person do what I want.) She turns to joke about appearance, but cannot keep it up: Miss Pearson leads to her mother's disappointment at seeing just what Miss Pearson looks like (a sarcastic joke) and that to Frank and back to her idea of returning with Frank.

She is conscious of her letters as art. They had in this era begun to write letters for publication and correspondences and memoirs were published. So we have "How ill I have written." It also signifies her disappointment with herself. She has obsessed over her powerlessness.

I agree "I begin hate myself" has the ring of truth. We can hate ourselves when it is revealed to us how little we are of consequence to others, how unable we are. We grow disgusted with ourselves even if aloud we may blame others and in reason see what happens is not our fault. It comes just after "How ill I have written." The thing she prides herself on, this writing, has not been controlled in this letter. I can feel her spirit oozing out, like a tear squeezed out of an eye which is trying not to let it go.

So she girds herself and produces the ironic: "Frank is much pleased with the prospect of having Capt Gore under his command."

She Jane has no one under hers, not even herself and the way to express this while keeping her pride and mask in tact is through this kind of exposure of another. Satire has many motives: it's said to be moral, but it usually arises just as much from anger.

Jan. 29th, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
The fashion world
Yesterday in connection with the book I'm reviewing I had occasion to read an excellent article I put in the Janeites files. I can't put them in my ECW or WWTTA files as the files are full. Austen-l provides no such files. Here's the citation:

Jennifer M. Jones, Rousseau: Femininity and Fashion in Old Regime France, French Historical Studies, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 939-967

Once you get past the opening -- do keep at it - the essay turns into normal English and is a historical piece where the author shows that it was first in the 14th century that what we think of as dressing to be fashionable among women emerges. It needs a certain standard of living, distribution of goods and communication out of narrow localities. But this was just for court and very wealthy upper class women. Until the 18th century most people -- men and women - had no chance to have more a very few outfits very coarse. This was partly deliberately engineered to keep the society of privilege and hierarchy in place. Early on where Italian people began to break these codes and repression consumptuary laws were passed.

Well commerce grew tremendously in our era, breakdown of religious attitudes (now people see themselves against society) and so too literary, much more money, more manufacturing and magazines. What we see in Austen's letters is in effect a whole new way of life. Alas, the stereotype of women=frivolity is set in place, it's ignored that men spend too and a lot on themselves (see Amanda Vickery's book Behind Closed Doors on this).

The value of the article is to make us understand how Austen's continual talk is for her time and era part of a new rebellious world of women trying to live individually for their own fulfillment. We also see how fashions were constructed and made to change yearly as soon as this started to make money.

Fast forward to movies like Sex and the city (its fashion show) and think a little, and the whole topic opens up.


Edited at 2011-01-29 02:01 pm (UTC)
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