A Latter-day Bluestocking

For the love of reading

Month: October, 2012

That Which Interrupts Our Reading Makes Us Grumpy

Recently I watched an episode of The Middle that really spoke to me.  Well, actually the youngest son in the family, Brick, spoke to me.  Brick is my favorite character and the one I find most endearing.  He is advanced beyond his years, easily distracted, somewhat awkward, and a big reader.  In this particular episode, Brick is disquieted by the prospect of having to partake of the public school ritual of watching the required sex-ed film amusingly entitled, “What’s Going on Down There.”  Long story short, his not very helpful big brother Axl decides to explain the facts of life to his brother and analogizes Brick’s love of books to the feelings he will one day come to possess for the opposite sex.  I thought that was a promising correlation to make.  But the moment of sincere and clear enlightenment, the moment when I laughed myself silly because the question Brick asks of the school nurse after viewing the film hit, in a way, too close to home.  His question?  “When chicks want it, do they want it right away, or can I finish my book first?”  Ah, something to really think about.  After all, can’t things just wait till I finish my book?

The Middle: episode 5 The Hose

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How I learned that sex, indeed, does sell at a JASNA AGM. No, not like that!!

“It’s a very select Society, an’ you’ve got to be a Janeite in your ’eart … You take it from me, there’s no one to touch Jane when you’re in a tight place.”
“The Janeites,” by Rudyard Kipling

The 2012 Jane Austen Society of North America AGM (annual general meeting) is over.  And on a cold and wet Sunday, having changed into my comfy new Jane Austen t-shirt, lying curled up in my bed, I took immense pleasure in my reminiscences of the past weekend, like Cinderella after the ball.

This was my first-ever AGM, an annual gathering of a like-minded mix of academic and non-academic followers of all things Jane.  I sit writing with my “Jane Austen’s Regency World” pen, sifting through the myriad postcards, flyers, refrigerator magnets, and bookmarks, while recollecting the lectures, banquet, Regency Ball, and all the wonderful people who I met.  I can’t help but feel sad that it’s over, the camaraderie, the vast amounts of information, the books for sale (that could possibly put me in a poor house), and the immeasurable satisfaction of being around so many who understand the obsession.  There was no eye-rolling (except perhaps when I chose to read from Fordyce’s Sermons aloud), no bored stares or incredulous looks, just others who wanted to gush about our favorite author, the ubiquitous Jane Austen.

I am still savoring the high of giving my first break-out lecture.  This is one of the highlights of my life.  I had been a bundle of nerves in the weeks leading up to this moment.  I am insecure when it comes to this kind of thing and even more so because I do not have an academic background in English Literature, therefore feel some inferiority and lots of fear that I will make a fool of myself in front of those who can claim extensive credentials.  I am a frustrated wannabe academic and I so yearn for acceptance and praise from those I consider to be “real” scholars.  This, compounded with the fear of suddenly forgetting my material, not being able to answer questions and looking like an idiot, and worrying that the sound of my voice (which I personally loathe) would be grating to others put me in a near state of panic.  It further did not help when I learned that I had one of the biggest groups (132) signed up for my lecture.  But I need not have worried.  My little talk “Fallen Women of the Regency:  Mistresses, Courtesans, and Prostitutes” was very well received (see sex does, indeed, sell even at Jane Austen themed events) , the questions asked were insightful and thought-provoking, and I was told that my presentation and handout were very interesting and that I had a very good speaking manner by no less an author whose books I admire.  High praise, indeed.  This wonderful experience has left me wanting more and I am already thinking of my next paper proposal for next year’s AGM celebrating the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice.

The Banquet and Regency Ball was so much fun!  For five hours I ate, drank, and danced the night away like I was at the Netherfield Ball.  There were so  many beautifully dressed people and the music was lively and fun.  I spent a good deal of the time admiring the general splendor of it all.  I did find myself having to loosen my stays if I wanted to keep up with the highly aerobic Regency-era dancing.  Thanks, mom, for my ballet training!

Another highpoint of the weekend was the author book signing.  Bleary-eyed and exhausted from the previous night’s exertions I lugged the books that I had carefully chosen, by the authors I was desperate to meet.  To speak with those who have written some of the most well-informed and wonderfully written books about Jane Austen was akin to meeting (for me) rock stars!

What a memorable weekend!!  I can’t wait for next year in Minneapolis, MN (and the year after that, Montreal, and the year after that, Louisville, KY).

Clearly the subject matter of my talk went to my head!

Quote of the Day: Jane Austen

“…but for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.”  Jane Austen, 1775-1817

Quote of the Day: Marilyn Jager Adams

“Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.”  Marilyn Jager Adams, born 1948

I am Seriously Considering Bank Robbery…

…So that I can get my hands on first editions of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.  These lovely volumes are on offer through AbeBooks.com.  Of course, if anyone wants to donate these to my addiction…

Sense and Sensibility  by A Lady

Published in 3 volumes by T. Egerton, London in 1811

A smart and highly collectible First Edition of Austen’s classic novel, complete in three volumes. Rebound in half-leather with spine labels, gilt lettering and decoration, and marbled paper-covered boards, with a cloth-covered slipcase. Published under the pseudonym, ‘A Lady’. With facsimile half-titles in each volume, and a facsimile title page in volume I. Bears Walter Hore’s signature on the first page of volume I, and dated inscriptions on the title pages of volumes II and III. Condition: Overall a good unmolested copy that has not been cleaned or restored and would come up a treat in the hands of a professional restorer. A pleasure to see a copy of this important work before the attentions of a restorer so that the purchaser can decide on how far to restore and know what has and has not been done. Rebound sympathetically. The bindings are tight and firm. There is very little wear to the extremities or to the slipcase. Internally the pages have light scattered foxing throughout, with occasional marks and mild browning. In volume I there are some closed tears and chips to the lower margins of the first quarter, with the lower corners of a couple of pages missing, not affecting text, a hole to the margin of page seventy-one, and repairs to closed tears on a few pages and to a split across page sixty-five. There are stains to the top corners of pages 292 and 293, and 158 and 159. In volume II there is light ink staining to the margins of pages 114/115, which does not affect the text. The bottom corners of a couple of pages are missing, and there is a small hole to the margin of the last page, none of which affect the text. The lower corner of page ninety-one is missing and has been repaired,with the loss to the text replaced in handwritten ink. The lower section of page 139 has been repaired, with the last four lines handwritten on both sides. In volume III there is very slight evidence of damage to the lower margins of the title page to page forty-four. There is also an ink mark to page sixty-three and smudged early copper-plate notes to the top margin, and a note to the top margin of page fifty-nine. With a small tidemark to the outer margin of 149, chips to the lower margins of pages five to nine, and closed tears to the lower margins of several pages. The lower corner of page nineteen is missing, and there is light staining to the lower corners of pages 102 and 103. There are small holes to the lower margins of pages 159 and 161. A small section of the first page of volume I has been removed, and small sections of the title pages of volumes II and III have been removed and repaired. Overall the condition is very good with a good interior.

Price:  $63,006.62

Pride and Prejudice  by A Lady

Published in 3 volumes by T. Egerton, London in 1813

First edition. Three volumes. 12mo. Bound in a fine early 20th century full brown crushed morocco Riviere binding, gilt titles and decorations to spines. All edges gilt, marbled endpapers, gilt inner dentelles. Binding shows very minor wear, a few light scuffs to corners, and few small spots to volume III. While often lacking, the half titles are present, vol I and III appear to be supplied from a second edition. Volume I: minor chips to pages 143/144 and 157/158; and a few minor creases to gatherings M and N. Volume II: tiny tear to rear flyleaf, small tear to outer margin of page 77. Some very minor scattered spotting. Volume III: small repair to upper corner of page 129, repair to lower corner of page 137/138, tiny pin hole to page 259/260. A beautiful, clean and very attractive set. Gilson A3. Austen’s second work, Pride and Prejudice, is her most famous and one of the most popular books ever written. The unforgettable story of the Bennet sisters quickly sold out of the first printing, and editions of this 1813 original are very scarce. Austen was highly praised by Sir Walter Scott, among others, for her proficiency in describing human emotions and the complexity of relationships. Pride and Prejudice established Austen as one of the most relevant and important female writers of her time, and it’s popularity is a prime example of why she is so highly regarded even today.

Price:  $60,000

Quote of the Day: T.S. Eliot

“Any poet, if he is to survive beyond his 25th year, must alter, he must seek new literary influences; he will have different emotions to express.”

T.S. Eliot, 1888-1965

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