Tag Archives: What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved

Thoughts On the 2018 JASNA AGM

*Warning: this post contains slight spoilers about Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. Read at your own risk if you have not read the books or seen any of the adaptations.

For many Janeites, the highlight of their fall the JASNA AGM. It is an opportunity to spend a weekend with hundreds of other Janeites, immerse themselves in everything that pertains to Jane Austen and forget about the rest of the world for three days.

This year’s AGM was held in Kansas City, Missouri. The theme was Persuasion and the title was 200 Years Of Constancy And Hope.

For many Jane Austen fans, reading Persuasion is a bittersweet experience. We love this novel and its main characters, Anne Elliot, Captain Frederick Wentworth. Unlike her previous novels, there is a mature feel to the work, a what if question when it comes to love, mistakes and second chances. Anne is the oldest of the Austen heroines. She is in her late 20’s while the other heroines are either in their late teens or early 20’s. For his part, Frederick Wentworth is unlike any of Austen’s other heroes. He has had to pull himself up by the figurative bootstraps instead of being born into a wealthy family and automatically inheriting a fortune. He also feels, to me, at least more human than let’s say, Mr. Darcy.

Mr. Darcy is almost like a too good to be true Prince in a fairy tale, a rich man who learns to tame his pride to win the affection/heart of the lower born woman that he loves. Frederick Wentworth is also proud, but he learns to understand Anne’s feelings over the course of the novel. He also realizes that their separation was not simply a one sided separation. His anger kept him from returning to Anne and renewing their relationship at an earlier juncture in their lives.

While every AGM has it moments, there are two of them that made this AGM amazing.

In 1995, a big screen version of Persuasion hit theaters. In the film, Amanda Root played Anne and Ciarian Hinds played Captain Wentworth. Attendees this past weekend were blessed to have Miss Root join us for part of the weekend.

 

She is gracious, warm, down to earth and I think she was a little surprised by the reaction from those in attendance.

There are many who have written about Jane Austen. There are few who can write with warmth, humor and speak to the reader without the academic feel that comes with the subject of Jane Austen. John Mullan is one of those people.

In this crowd, he is a rock star. His book, What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved, is one of my favorite books about Austen and her novels.

And, as usual, the high point of the AGM is the ball on Saturday night. While not everyone dresses up and dance, it’s fun to do so if one wishes.

All in all, it was an amazing AGM and I look forward to next year in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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Filed under Books, Fairy Tales, Jane Austen, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved Book Review

When it comes to classic novels and the authors that wrote them, there are two camps: those who look at the books from a scholarly or academic perspective and those who read and re-read the books because they simply adore them.

Jane Austen’s novels are no exception.

In What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved, Professor John Mullan from University College London takes reader into the nitty-gritty questions that only someone who had stopped counting the number of times they’ve read a Jane Austen novel would ask. He asks questions about why certain character have one or two lines before only being referred to, the real age of the characters versus the performers who played them on stage or screen and the significance of how the characters refer to each other.

This book is amazing, as is its author. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him speak twice. He is as warm, funny, engaging on the page as he is in person. I will warn my readers that this book is for the serious Janeite.  A reader who has casually picked up one of Austen’s books or a reader who is new to the Austen literary universe might not completely understand what Mr. Mullan is stating. But what I loved best about this book is that teeters on academic without talking down to the reader or sounding like a dry college textbook.

I absolutely recommend this book.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility