Quote Jane


“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

zaterdag 18 september 2010

Regency library


Jane Austen grew up in a bookish family. Rev. Austen was a great reader (and writer of sermons) and he read aloud to his children. When her family moved to Bath, Jane’s father sold or gave away over 500 books from his vast library, which must have crammed the parsonage in Steventon. Under her father’s direction, Jane read English, classical and foreign literature by such authors as Samuel Johnson, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Alexander Pope, George Crabbe, William Cowper, and William Shakespeare. Jane was also encouraged to buy subscriptions to the popular novels written by Frances Burney, Sarah Harriet Burney, Maria Edgeworth and Ann Radcliffe. Rev. Austen’s library at Steventon provided inspiration for the short satirical sketches Jane wrote as a girl and with which she entertained the family. To entertain each other, the close knit Austen family would also read to each other, play games, and produce plays. One imagines that Rev. Austen’s library played an important part in devising these amusements.*

Although Mr. Darcy speaks of the family library as a collection of books, it was far more than that. In the country house of a gentleman like Mr. Bennet, the library is his "Man Cave"-- his haven-- storing books, yes, but also doubling as an office or study where he might retire when confounded by his wife's folly, or a place to meet his esate agent, as Mr. Knightley does, in Emma. Books were expensive, luxuries, and it was a sign of prestige for a home to include a large number of or them. Great Houses might have an entire room designated for the purpose-- a place, which might also host family gatherings and be opened to guests when large parties were arranged.

This 1816 etching by John Britton represents a typical home library during Regency. The library is located at Cassiobury Park and it was used similarly to many other home libraries of the time — it was essentially the most important room of the house and could be easily referred to as a family sitting room. A group of small dogs in the front sufficiently demonstrates the openness of this library to anyone and anything. At the same time, all traditional library features are present and their style is unmistakable. We see built-in bookcases that are architectural in nature. In other such libraries you would often see (apart from the books, obviously) various antiquities and curiosities. Small private museums of this sort had a long history, but in Georgian times and in the early 19th century the trend became very popular. As far as architectural styles, Regency designers preferred neoclassical decor, howver Gothic influences were also quite common at the discretion of individual owners who were inspired by the love of all things Medieval (as interpreted by novelists and poets). The furniture of this particular home library is typical Regency style (note the Grecian chairs), but the general tone has a certain Gothic air."

Original with more pictures

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Austen werd geboren in Hampshire. Haar vader was een geestelijke. Het grootste deel van haar leven bleef zij in haar geboortestreek. Austen had zes broers en een oudere zuster, Cassandra, met wie zij zeer hecht was. Het enige onbetwiste portret van Jane Austen is een gekleurde schets die door Cassandra werd gemaakt en nu in de National Portrait Gallery in Londen hangt. In 1801 verhuisde de familie naar Bath. In 1802 werd Austen ten huwelijk gevraagd door de rijke Harris Bigg-Wither en zij stemde toe; de volgende dag deelde ze echter mee dat zij haar woord niet kon houden en trok haar instemming in. De reden hiervoor is niet bekend, maar Austen is nooit getrouwd. Na de dood van haar vader in 1805 woonden Jane, haar zuster en haar moeder daar nog verscheidene jaren tot zij in 1809 naar Chawton verhuisden. Hier had haar rijke broer Edward een landgoed met een plattelandshuisje, dat hij aan zijn moeder en zusters schonk (dit huis is tegenwoordig open voor het publiek). Zelfs nadat zij naam gemaakt had als romanschrijfster bleef zij in relatieve stilte leven, maar haar gezondheid ging sterk achteruit. Er wordt nu aangenomen dat zij de ziekte van Addison had, waarvan toen de oorzaak nog onbekend was. Ze reisde naar Winchester om behandeling te zoeken, maar stierf daar en werd begraven in de kathedraal.
Tot Austens beroemdste werk behoort de roman Emma. Het boek wordt vaak aangehaald vanwege de perfectie van vorm. Moderne critici blijven ook nieuwe perspectieven ontdekken op het scherpe commentaar van Austen betreffende de klasse van jonge, ongehuwde, aristocratische Engelse vrouwen in de vroege 19e eeuw.

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