I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet.
Of course, I see something like this and I just swoon.
The “new writing” really ends up being just a “snippet” of her writing, and in fact only a “snippet” of one of her brother’s sermons – written in her handwriting – in 1814. But what I found interesting is what it says: “Men may get into a habit of repeating the words of our Prayers by rote, perhaps without thoroughly understanding – certainly without thoroughly feeling their full force & meaning.” The author, Alison Flood, points out that the subject matter of the quote in fact parallels Austen’s novel Mansfield Park, published the same year.
Yes, that’s right…after holding out for forever, and feeling buried by work and so many other things, I finally gave up and decided to read Fifty Shades of Grey. Why? Well, as Neil Gaiman said, we all need an escape sometimes, and sometimes the heavy fiction I am so prone to reading is just not good to read in the midst of a school year. Also, friends of mine – and my mother-in-law (YIKES!) – have read it, and they seemed largely unaffected by it (both literally and intellectually), so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to read just the first book of the series. After all, an escape is fine every once in a while: a balanced approach is always good, right? After all, I try to read “real” literature the majority of the time.
For my Oxford course, one of our option activities was to look at the different ways religion is mentioned in the novel. My response is below, and I’ll post more as I can!
I would have to return to the Sotherton Chapel, and Mary Crawford’s speech against organized religion:
“At any rate is safer to leave people to their own devices on such subjects. Every body likes to go their own way – to chuse their own time and manner of devotion. The obligation of attendance, the formality, the restraint, the length of time – altogether it is a formidable thing and what nobody likes…” (81-82)
Naturally, given the fact that Mary Crawford, in all her forwardness, is the one to speak against religion is, in my estimation, more a criticism of her character than the religion of the time. However, her point of view does give some insight into how more, well, shall we say, liberal members of society viewed their religious obligations.
Edmund, of course, has a response for her: “Do you think the minds which are suffered, which are indulged in wanderings in a chapel, would be more collected in a closet?” (82)
Edmund’s controlled, careful response, which even for his mild temperament “required a little recollection” makes a well-argued case against people choosing their own forms of devotion and for people engaging in religious experiences within the community of the church.
Here is a posting I just made to my blog for my Oxford class. As it contains some interesting information, I thought it appropriate to publish it here as well.
I read the chapter “Money” in The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. I read the entire chapter rather than reading only portions of it, and was happy to finally have an explanation for the different incomes provided (what can a family do with £100 or £2000 a year, as incomes are always referenced in Austen novels. I suppose I could have looked it up before, but I appreciated the fact that all of the information presented in the chapter allowed me a better insight into the world of incomes in Austen’s novels.
Also, I was interested to find that there is a different monetary ‘focus,’ so to speak, in each of Austen’s novels. In the first three novels, “money…exists for the most part as a set of restrictive anxieties attached to the romance plot by the narrowest definition of domestic economy” (134). In the last three novels, though, the relationship between the plot of the romance and money is much more intricate: the question of “income” in Mansfield Park (134), “consumer signs” in Emma (136), or “credit” in Persuasion (138).
I found the above information interesting in that it opened my eyes to a new depth of information within Austen’s novels – and now I think I’ll need to re-read them all yet again! There’s always something new.
Citation for the Cambridge Companion follows:
Copeland, Edward, and Juliet McMaster. The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. 2nd. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 127-143. Print.
I am taking a class on Jane Austen via Oxford University online, specifically Trinity College.
Typing that sentence makes me: completely geek out, giggle, feel a sense of pride, and anticipate the next class I get to take. Also, it reminds me that, in addition to finishing out a semester, I’ve got homework that needs finishing!
Posting that information here helps me explain why I’ve not posted anything in a while. The course requires us to read several books, some of which I have read, some of which I have not, so I had to switch from reading Mansfield Park to reading Northanger Abbey, which of course I don’t mind at all, but it did throw a slight kink in my progression of writing on my blog.
All that being said, there is the update. I will return to posting shortly, most likely in the next week, because my seniors are done and I’ll have afternoons actually at school to finish grading and planning work, and therefore time at home to work on my homework/prepare posts for my blog.