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Showing posts from June, 2014

Austen 2014: An Interlude -- Among the Janeites at the Jane Austen Summer Program

Last weekend, your humble blogger had the great pleasure of spending four days attending the second annual Jane Austen Summer Program (or JASP--I like to think of attendees as JASPers), organized by devoted Janeites among the faculty of UNC Chapel Hill's Department of English and Comparative Literature. The event, which blended lectures by scholars, group discussions, and Regency-themed entertainments, was focused on exploring--and perhaps reclaiming from relative disinterest--Austen's first published novel, Sense & Sensibility. But enough press release-style generalities: I'll give you the skinny on my first extended encounter with organized Jane Austen fandom. Spoiler alert: I'm already planning on going back next year.
But let's begin at the beginning. I arrived in Chapel Hill, a lovely city I look forward to exploring more in the future, on Thursday morning, and, in short order, met my on-line acquaintance Edward Scheinman, a UNC grad student who first aler…

Austen 2014: Sense & Sensibility, Volume 3 and Wrap-Up

Willoughby!!!

Okay, let me back up a bit.

This third volume seems designed to complicate and confuse the clearly established opinions we held about our characters. Elinor comes to realize how far Mrs. Jennings' good nature and kindness can go when confronted with a bad situation, and learns that, while she may be silly, she's a much better person than many of her more sophisticated acquaintances. Indeed, even Mr. Palmer improves upon acquaintance. While Elinor (and the narrator, which are often one and the same) rightly condemns his generally bad-natured behavior toward his wife and mother-in-law, she realizes that he is more complicated than simply a one-dimensional figure defined solely by his surliness. Of course, Marianne's reassessment of Colonel Brandon is the most important change of opinion as far as the plot is concerned, but it is Elinor's encounter with Willoughby that I feel must strike any reader as Austen's clearest attempt at giving everyone--even he…