02 July 2013

Jane Austenite

summer balcony view
"I am a Jane Austenite, and therefore slightly imbecile about Jane Austen. My fatuous expression and airs of personal immunity - how ill they set on the face, say, of a Stevensonian! But Jane Austen is so different. She is my favorite author! I read and reread, the mouth open and the mind closed. Shut up in measureless content, I greet her by the name of most kind hostess, while criticism slumbers."

That's E. M. Forster said that, not me (see citation below). I feel vindicated. Because he's a famous writer, so he ought to know. Nowadays, we mostly call ourselves Janeites, not Jane Austenites so much, although I believe Forster's the one who invented the term, back when he wrote this in 1936. [Addendum: no, he wasn't. Wikipedia says that the term "Janeite" was coined by George Saintsbury in 1894, and that Kipling wrote a short story called "The Janeites" about a group of WWI soldiers who're fans. Might have to track that one down, sounds intriguing.]

I've thoroughly enjoyed rereading the novels for my course, although it's taken me about four times longer than I had bargained for. Partially that's due to the fact that as soon as I have to do something for school, it becomes work, and therefore something to be avoided; that cuts down on processing speed considerably. And the other part was that really reading, carefully, every word, plus the forewords and afterwords and bonus materials, just takes longer than skipping through to get to your favourite bits (even if you read those three times over because you like them so much). But I'm done the reading, so now I can go into the writing.

On another note, the weather gods suddenly decided to crank up the thermostat, just in time for the beginning of the summer holidays. Today we're supposed to get to 34°C; this morning at 8:00, it was already 32°C in my east-facing kitchen, what with the sun burning through the window and patio doors. Thank God for the new window unit air conditioner in my bedroom/study; my papers would be doomed without it.

Life, the Universe, and Imbecile Jane Austenites. Keep cool!

(Forster, E. M. "Jane Austen: the Six Novels". A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen. New York: Random House, 2009. 22-25.)

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