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

dinsdag 7 juni 2011

Catalogue of the library at Godmersham Park


This manuscript catalogue of the library at Godmersham Park, the main residence of Austen’s brother Edward, was presumably started in 1818, the date embossed on the cover. However, there are books listed that were published as late as the early 1840s, so clearly the catalogue was maintained and updated over a number of years. The library would have been built up by succeeding generations; Edward inherited it together with the property, but clearly he continued to acquire new works for the collection. Jane Austen made extended visits to her brother and his family at Godmersham, and she certainly knew the library; on one such visit, she wrote:

The Comfort of the Billiard Table here is very great.—It draws all the Gentlemen to it whenever they are within, especially after dinner, so that my Br Fanny & I have the Library to ourselves in delightful quiet. (14-15 October 1813)

The library was clearly central to life at Godmersham; earlier that year, she told Cassandra that

“we live in the Library except at Meals” (23-24 September 1813).

The library includes books in several languages as well as English. There are texts (usually in the original Greek or Latin) by classical Greek and Roman writers and philosophers, as would befit a gentleman’s library at this time, including works by Plutarch, Plato, Homer, Sophocles, Epictetus, Euripides, Horace, Virgil, and Ovid. There are a substantial number of French books (including works by major figures in eighteenth-century French philosophy, such as Voltaire and Rousseau, and classic works of French fiction such as Gil-Blas), several books in Italian, and at least one in German.

In terms of the subjects included, much of what is in the Godmersham library probably reflects the interests of many such country house libraries at the time. There are books on travel (not just around Britain and Europe but also much further afield, including journeys to Egypt, Syria, Africa, North America, and India); history books (mainly English history but there are also histories of Europe more generally, and of specific countries or regions such as Greece, Russia, and the Ottoman empire); many works on religion, including books of common prayer, several seventeenth-century bibles, and a significant number of collections of sermons by various authors; examples of conduct literature, such as works by Jane West, Hester Chapone, and Hannah More; books about architecture and painting; parliamentary records (more than one owner of Godmersham Park was an MP); works on science and medicine; dictionaries (including two editions of Samuel Johnson’s) and works on grammar (not just English but also Greek); and a selection of periodicals, such as a 1758-1791 run of The Annual Register. Unsurprisingly, given that this is the library of landed gentry, there are books on farming, agriculture, and horsemanship, as well as gardening and landscape, and there are also a number of books on Kent and the local area. A glimpse into Godmersham leisure pursuits is offered by A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist (by Edmund Hoyle, 1746), and Chess Analysed (F. D. Philidor, 1773).

In terms of literature, as one would expect, there are works by many of the major figures, including Shakespeare (three editions of the complete works), Milton, Dryden, and Pope. There are also a significant number of novels in the library: Austen’s favorite, according to her family, Samuel Richardson’s Sir Charles Grandison (1810 edition); Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews (1742) and Tom Jones (1749); Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (1760), and Jonathan Swift’s Travels . . . by Lemuel Gulliver (1726).


Read more: http://www.jasna.org/Jane Austen’s Reading

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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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