Prospect and Refuge in the Landscape of Jane Austen

Barbara Britton Wenner analyses Austen’s use of nature in her novels and Juvenilia. Nature and culture, female and male, and submissive and oppressive elements are juxtaposed in order to show how the heroines’ relation to nature enhances their experience and gradual self-recognition.

Thankfully the author doesn’t attempt to prove that Austen had one and only proper model either of nature, picturesque or estate, but rather moves above the usual discourse, demonstrating instead how freely and confidently Austen used the late 18th century concepts of landscape in order to show danger or refuge, and desirable or dreaded situations and characters. It’ll help you to better understand both the idea of picturesque and Austen’s novels.

The book is expensive, but likely available from your library. However, if you can afford it, it’s well worth having. Check it either at Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Highly recommended!

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Elinor About Love

SScoverSome time ago I wrote that Elizabeth’s love for Darcy could not bloom before she was assured of his feelings as well as that her wishes and hopes would be rewarded by a proposal.

Elinor expresses similar sentiments when she answers Marianne’s queries about Edward:

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Loveless Marriage

LizzyCharlotteMrCollins-01At the beginning of the 18th century arranged marriages were the norm, but by the end of it they fell out of favour with nearly everyone, the upper class excepted. Family’s interest stood in opposition to Christian morality. Marriage should be for love, because it’s instituted by God, and not by any civil contract. Anglican marriage is a lesser sacrament, and its only condition is the mutual vow of love. One can lie and sign any papers, but one cannot possibly cheat God or hope that God would bless what is an abuse of the sacrament He instituted.

In fact the romantic notion of love and marriage revived because people became more concerned with religion than they were in the 17th century. Yet, it doesn’t mean that they ceased to care about the prudential aspect of it. Parents took care that their daughters met only those gentlemen they could marry without degradation. In other words they were free to fall in love with the men they knew, but the group of the men they were allowed to meet was limited in advance.

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My English Country Garden Blog

My English Country Garden Blog is a wonderful place to sneak into the English countryside.

The blog’s author says:

Here I’ll be sharing my thoughts of other gardens, old recipes and garden writers with you, from William Lawson via Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte to Nancy Mitford.

Landscape gardens were one of the major features of Jane Austen’s England. It was more than a nice place to stroll. It was a philosophy of the 18th century life.

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Godmersham House

Some time ago I wrote a post about Chevening Park being considered the model for Rosings Park. Now I came across another JASNA article by Joan Austen-Leigh, claiming that it was Godmersham Park. I absolutely love all the speculations, even though I assume that Austen would be creative enough to build a house in her own imagination rather than copy an existing one. If you ask me Rosings would be more showy.

Godmersham House

Godmersham House

However, it’s always interesting to see the old houses, since they provide examples of the norm back then. For more information and pictures from Godmersham House see Chris Coyle’s article in Jane Austen’s Regency World.

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Hannah Cowley in Austen’s The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters is one of the frankest portrayals of “marriage as prostitution” (as Mary Wollstonecraft described marrying for material reasons) within all of Austen’s writings.

Miss Stanhope takes no pains to conceal her motives while negotiating her price:

“You must build me an elegant Greenhouse and stock it with plants. You must let me spend every Winter in Bath, every Spring in Town, Every Summer in taking some Tour, and every Autumn at a Watering Place, and if we are at home the rest of the year (Sophy and I laughed) You must do nothing but give Balls and Masquerades. You must build a room on purpose and a Theatre to act Plays in. The first Play we have shall be Which is the Man, and I will do Lady Bell Bloomer.”

Hannah Cowley

Which is the Man is a play by Hannah Cowley about a fascinating widow who cannot make up her mind among several admirers.

In 1787 Austen’s family considered performing it at Steventon. Although other plays ended up being performed then, Austen was well familiar with Cowley’s plays, and quoted lines from them in her letters.

You can read it in Austenette’s Repository. Follow the link Which is the Man

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Easter in Pride and Prejudice

ppm498_emivAusten chose Easter for the most significant turn in Pride and Prejudice.

Darcy comes to Rosings around Palm Sunday (likely Monday, since Darcy, unlike Mr. Elliot, wouldn’t travel on Sunday), that commemorates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in the days before his Passion.

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