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

woensdag 5 oktober 2011


The forgotten treasures of Jane AustenPDFPrintE-mail
Written by Rebecca Anderson   
Monday, 03 October 2011 17:43
Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon is a collection of stories never submitted for publication in Jane Austen's lifetime. They are little known except by the most hardcore Austen fanatics. 

The short story “Lady Susan” is an epistolary novel and so is made up of letters between the multiple characters.
This type of writing had gradually fallen out of fashion by the time Austen began writing but she nevertheless attempted this style several times in her early years. It is even thought that early drafts of "First Impressions" which later became Pride and Prejudicemay have been started in this way.

“Lady Susan” tells the story of an attractive widow as she attempts to scheme her way to a new husband and a suitable match for her daughter, oblivious or uninterested in her daughter’s thoughts on the matter. It is disconcerting at first when reading this story as this style is so uncommon when reading modern day fiction. The title character is perhaps one of Austen’s most interesting characters, a manipulative social climber, very unlike the typical heroines. She does not follow any of the conventions you would expect from an Austen woman, flouting custom by actively seeking, flirting with and seducing men. If Austen had chosen to rewrite this novel and expand it, Lady Susan would certainly have provided endless hours of amusement as she schemed her way through society but as it is it seems to end rather abruptly and disappointingly.

“The Watsons” is the first of the extracts which is unfinished. Austen began writing this while she lived in Bath in 1804, however she abandoned it when her father died in January 1805. The heroine of the extract is Emma Watson who has been raised by her aunt but now finds herself back with her parents. There she attracts attention from a socially shy but attractive young Lord, while her desperate husband hunting sisters pursue his arrogant and overconfident friend Tom Musgrave. This extract is extremely promising and if completed would perhaps have rivalled Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility as the best ‘rags’ to riches love story. Interestingly, thanks to Austen’s sister Cassandra we do have some idea how the novel would have finished so the reader is given a welcome sense of resolution in a summary paragraph at the end of the extract.

Unlike “The Watsons”“Sanditon” appears to be very different from the typical Austen novel. This is the novel Austen was working on when she became ill and eventually died in 1817 and it shows a remarkably mature writing style and content compared with her earlier works like “Lady Susan”. Rather than characters, the primary focus of these first few chapters is on the development and evolution of a town, seen through a group of families. Although, perhaps not for me her most engrossing work, “Sanditon” is sharp, full of wit and satire, shockingly so for a seriously ill writer, particularly at the expense of hypochondriac sisters who are convinced that their brother too must be sick. It is a real tragedy that Austen was unable to finish this novel as it could have proved her most unusual and sophisticated masterpiece.

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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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