It's only a short drive from our hotel (right next to the small town of Wickham) to Chawton, through the lovely, leafy, but dripping wet Hampshire countryside. We are not the first visitors of the day, and in the hour we are there another twenty or so add their names to the visitors' book. A steady trickle which becomes more of a stream in the summer months, but never a flood, or so the sweet lady who is keeping an eye on the place informs us.
The custodians of the cottage are all of her breed—middle-aged, tweedy, and without an iota of business acumen between them. They are Austen lovers of the purest kind (they all disapprove of the film adaptations) and they don't believe they need to pander to the appetites of the Austen Industry. Don't come here looking for audio-visual aids or guided tours, for you won't find them. Casual visitors are not encouraged—only the true devotee. Pictures hung slightly awry on the walls, faded and curling cardboard requests not to sit on the chairs and a general air of amateurism are all about you and it's initially tempting to sneer. But what you get instead is so much more—the freedom to wander alone and unhurried through the rooms, unchecked by time or roped-off areas, to run your hands across and around that tiny writing table where Jane sat in the light of the window that looked on then, as it still does, to the Winchester Road to try for yourself if the door still creaks—and it does!—and to find the countless, small, intimate things that cross the divide between your own life and hers. Among these, the set of hinged ivory rectangles, perhaps a bit more than two inches wide, which served as a reusable notepad—erase the pencil-marks with a thumb or a piece of bread, her ball-and-cup-game at which she was so skilled, and the topaz crosses which are far grander than you expect.
Upstairs, the fact that her mother's bedroom is twice the size of the one she shared with Cassandra, and has a bigger fireplace, causes a friend to mutter "Selfish old bag!" But Jane's bedroom has a view across the stableyard to the gardens and fields beyond, more or less unchanged, except that the garden is smaller, and all Jane's oak trees are sadly gone (although seedlings from the originals are being lovingly nurtured). In this bedroom we find not only the patchwork quilt which the three women made with such tiny, even stitches you would swear it had been machined, but an autographed extract from Winston Churchill's The Second World War in which he describes how, in the darkest days of the Battle of Britain, with a German invasion imminent, he found solace and relief in the pages of Pride and Prejudice. Eventually, the Bakehouse, with it's donkeytrap, just where it would have stood then, and a cornerstone of Steventon Parsonage, all that remains of the house except for the kitchen pump which still stands on its original site in an otherwise empty field.
We walk across the road to the tearoom which takes up the lower part of the Georgian house opposite—"Cassandra's Cup", of course. Tomorrow we'll go aboard "Victory" in Portsmouth, and we wonder if any of Jane's brothers ship-visited her in their day. Meanwhile, another band of stalwart pilgrims makes its way through the rain to the shrine.
From the Meister: Beautiful! Don't forget, you promised us more than Chawton Cottage. Here is a photo of Chawton Cottage and here is another. Here is a rather poor photo of Jane Austen's writing desk.
Anyone, please help!
Need some help!! What does the card game of 'Speculation' symbolize in Chapter 25 of Mansfield Park. I know its something about marriage... but what?!!? As much help as possible would be greatly appreciated!!
This reference to Speculation is from my very old Penguin edition of
"A round game of cards, the chief feature of which is the buying and selling of trump cards, the holder of the highest trump card in a round winning the pool".
Hope this helps.
I am able to offer books BELOW retail, even lower than amazon.com.
Just email the title and author to me and I will email you back with a
From the Meister: This is always a tricky call for me—Should
I post advertisements or not? I do that when I think that there
might be something of value for the community. However, please
understand that I can not vouch for the authenticity of any of
Hello, I'm a teenage male fan of Jane Austen. I must admit that I'm in the closet about this subject. So, I'd appreciate an e-mail or two to try and connect with others who appreciate her literature.
Welcome to the community. Actually, I think that it is Jane Austen that needs to be liberated - liberated from that niche to which she has been relegated. You won't be much of a freedom-fighter if you conduct your discussions by e-mail. Come to this place to express your views, that is the purpose for which it has been designed.
You might be surprised. I remember that I had developed a love for Broadway plays when I was a teenager. I could only see filmed versions then and I always went alone because I couldn't imagine any of my friends would be interested. One time I found my baseball battery-mate at one of those films and he was surprised to see me there. Later, at Junior College, one of my offensive linemen taught me how to make my way to San Francisco to see the live productions. He liked the musicals and we had a great time going to those things together. There are always going to men like Tiko Torres (11/5/98) around, but you will be amazed at the extent to which you and I can turn someone like that around. On the other hand, I believe that you will find the clear majority of people here to be supportive and lively.
Firstly, I do hope that Travis does write back. I have been waiting, breathless, for Tiko, but as he doesn't seem to want to play any more (struck blind as the priest warned him, perhaps?), I would love to have a new friend.
Secondly, I just have to ask: Why was your poor lineman so offensive in the first place? Was it his aggression? I presume you made friends with him afterwards, if you went to see plays together. Maybe he was more shy than intentionally rude?
Dear Just-Curious Julie,
Don't think I didn't notice your sly Darcy joke; I will get you for that. However, at present, I am imperturbable; I just returned from attending an exciting football game, which turned out as I had hoped it would. That makes me the happiest kind of American.
My friend was not rude nor was he ever in the slightest bit shy. He was
just a proverbial bull in a china shop. You certainly are not curious, but you
are to read this anyway - you asked for it. One of the neat things about
American football is that the entire team is changed when the team goes from
defense to offense. Some people go their entire lives without playing defense.
It is a game of specialties and injuries so that it takes a roster of 50
players to make a competitive team even though no more than 11 are on the
field at one time (legally).
Dear Male Voices,
I have, for the last few years, held what I refer to as "Janeteenth" -- I host a gathering of friends (mostly women, but men would be welcomed), on a Saturday morning, usually from about 9am to 1pm, and show a Jane Austen movie. There is a choice between the BBC/WGBH and /A&E versions of Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and Emma and the (to me) best adaptation of Emma into modern culture I have ever seen -- Clueless!!! The latter hooks more contemporary viewers who are less likely to read the books. We always put out a sort of English buffet, with all kinds of munchies (sweet and savory), tea and coffee. Janeteenth is always held in the morning and always on a Saturday (when people don't have to work and can get away from the kids for a while), and it is only held during a "J" month -- Janeuary, Jane, and Jaly! As a matter of fact, I have held a Janeteenth on Juneteenth once don't you just love it? So, who else out there is doing something similar?
In addition, I want to add one more observation on a film adaptation: the recent Persuasion, which played in the theatre, had a scene at the end where Anne Elliott and Captain Wentworth actually kiss right in the middle of the street in daytime Bath! I remember reading one critic who remarked, much to my agreement, that they might as well have been engaged in oral sex in the Pump Room! Here is what Jane writes:
I guess the modern audience is too sophisticated to pick up nuances of deep feeling we must have exchange of bodily fluids a la Heinlein's water ceremony) in order to categorize the feelings we are supposed to be feeling, sort of like clicking on an icon to get from here to there. Civilized? Nay, superficial, I say!
First of all, allow me to provide you a most hearty welcome to the Male-Voices community; you have found in me a person who shares your enthusiasm for films. I recognize in you the potential for becoming still another official Male Voices Heroine, but only if you invent some way to recruit men to your Saturday morning events.
I own all of the filmed versions that you mentioned and a few more besides. The one that I would recommend to you is the 1972 BBC version of Emma. I think that Doran Godwin nailed the interpretation of Emma Woodhouse and John Carson was equally brilliant as Mr. Knightley - Talk about "chemistry"! I would make another recommendation for Donald Eccles who was absolutely perfect as Emma's father. Unhappily, some of the other interpretations and performances are mediocre. This is a longer version and, therefore, more accurate - quite acceptable to many Janites I should think.
I think that the most accurate interpretations of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill occur in the BBC/A&E version of Emma? What are your thoughts? I have been waiting for someone like you because I want to discuss Samantha Morton's interpretation of Harriet Smith in that same production. I have made a posting on that matter in another place; I would very much like to see your reaction. I was startled because I never thought of Miss Smith that way, but Ms. Morton's interpretation makes so much sense that I am beginning to think that she has it right. - Any thoughts? There was a recent version of Tom Jones shown on the A&E cable network that I am indifferent to; however, Samantha Morton was absolutely perfect as Sophia Western. Did you see that?
If you are serious about recruiting men, then I would suggest that you use your BBC/A&E version of Pride and Prejudice. That worked with my brother - and nothing else did. (I am quite a bit older, so you would think I could intimidate him to watch the other things - no way!) The two opening scenes are quite good but are followed with scenes that reminds one of Louisa May Alcott - a man's worst fear. However, by the time the first carriage pulls up to that first assembly, the production has settled into that wonderful interpretation that lasts for the full five hours. Even MY brother fell in love with Elizabeth Bennet. Jennifer Ehle and Susannah Harker were superb as Elizabeth and Jane Bennet. Actually, Jennifer Ehle may have retired that role - I mean what actress would be so foolish as to want to place her interpretation out there next to that of Ms. Ehle's? Although, I am one to critique even the finest efforts; you may know of my nitpicking in regards to other aspects of that production (I don't care for the interpretations of Darcy in the earliest scenes).
By the bye, Susannah Harker was very good as the Methodist minister in a WGBH production of Adam Bede. - Have you seen that? I have tried to obtain a copy of that and failed. Do you have any suggestions? Let me make some other recommendations to you. I am still spinning over a beautiful A&E production of Tess of the D'Urbervilles in which Justine Waddell retired the role of Tess Durbeyfield forever and ever. I'd bet that would get the attention of some of your male friends. BBC presented a wonderful version of Middlemarch in which Juliet Aubrey ret...well, you know what I mean. An oldie but a goodie is Stanley Kubrick's 1975 production of Barry Lyndon which is brilliant in spite of the fact that it features no very great acting talent. It was as if Kubrick didn't want a great performance to distract from good cinema - it worked, and it worked perfectly! That film receives too little attention.
For me, the best part of your posting was your recognition that Jane Austen was superb at describing intimacy and, may I say, at describing sensuality. The passage that is left out of the film you mention is the one where Anne is attending to her rambunctious nephews when one climbs up onto her back and won't get off. She feels the boy being lifted off and assumes that it was the boy's father, but discovers that it was Wentworth instead. I mean that in this simple way, we learn that Wentworth was watching her and was concerned about even her minor difficulties. That at a time when she was providing a nursing service that the boy's mother chose to neglect. It must be impossible for a filmmaker to reproduce the intimacy at the end of the novel, so perhaps the kissing scene might be an acceptable substitute. Also, I think that there is a tendency to confuse the Regency period with the Victorian. I wonder if that critic is guilty of that sort of thing. The scene that got on my nerves is the last one in which Wentworth makes such a production out of announcing his engagement. (Did you notice that they reproduced both of Jane Austen's versions of the proposal scene?)
Dear Male Voices,
When first I saw Thompson's version, I became so incensed and contemptuous that I up and left the theatre. The BBC two-tape set is astounding. I can't for the life of me figure out (1) why an actress who I had admired (Henry V) would remake such a great adaptation, and (2) why she would make it so obnoxiously politically-correct and ignorant of cultural mores. I found her script offensive and unfunny in the way of a, say, Jane Austen. I was surprised that such an educated woman as Ms. Thompson could demonstrate such a high level of failure to understand Jane's inherent and intelligent humor. No shots to the groin for Jane, indeed none was necessary. Making Sir John Middleton and Mrs. Jennings into buffoons showed a particular lack of sensitivity. Pray, is subtlety a lost art these days? Finally, I used to like Oprah's talk show, until I saw Emma Thompson as her guest. Oprah (whose "book club" really emphasizes the latter word of the phrase, at the expense of quality in the former) had the temerity -- nay, the audacity -- to state that Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility exceeded in quality that of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility. I reacted instinctively, reaching for the remote and shutting Oprah and her ilk out of my life. Thank you for adding your well-reasoned commentary to the Great Discussion. I'll be back.
Okay, she may have risen a little above other females of her time. Big fucking deal. I'm sure there were many other women like her around, but they didn't bother writing useless books which drag on endlessly. Every time I raise this point to any females that I know, they get all protective and start with this bullshit about, "Oh but you're missing the point." I'm sorry ladies, but the reason I'm not missing the point is because there is NO point. Stop all this nonsense about how good she is and spend more of your time on better and much more significant writers like Shakespeare and Freud, and maybe even the editor of Woman's Weekly. Ha!
Way to go, TIKO! Except--you are not holding something back are you? Welcome to the community. You may think me insincere because you and I differ so much on Jane Austen, but the fact is that I once shared your views, and you and I share the same sort of manners and approach to matters intellectual. If you will take the time to look about this web site, you will find that I too am careless about how others might react to my statements. And women often become angry with me because of my stubbornness and my mode of address. I hope that a large number of different intellectual types will feel comfortable here; in fact - you won't believe this either - you are one of the sorts of person for whom I designed this place.
I think you are about to catch some hell from others in the community, but I suspect that you have learned to deal with that and, besides, you deserve a little of that treatment (would you refer to your mom or to a sister as a "female"?).
OK - so, let me try to turn you around; do this and it will change your life. Read a particular passage near the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, the one that did it for me. This is the place where Darcy and Bingley are at the dance where they meet the Bennet sisters. There are a lot of things that a male reader will notice that a woman might pass over without much interest. The thing is that Darcy thinks that Jane Bennet is really cute, but he doesn't make a move on her - ever. You will be able to guess why even though Jane Austen never tells you why, and even though your women friends don't think about that. You will be able to guess why and the answer will begin to impress you with Darcy. The interesting thing is that the very place where you become impressed is exactly where most women readers become really angry at him. They are angry because he won't dance with Jane Bennet's sister - go figure! Actually Bingley and Darcy become perturbed with one another and exchange some angry words over that very point. It is a real guy thing. Think about what Bingley is doing, think about why he tries to get Darcy to dance with Elizabeth Bennet. It makes a great deal of sense.
You can continually think about that passage and get more and more out of it because it relates to your own experience. That is the point; this woman - this "female" who wrote when only a teenager, and who wrote two hundred years ago, knew a lot about men - And she liked them. I hope that you are meeting women who know as much. I doubt it. It is no accident that Jane Austen knew so much, she had six brothers only one of which was younger than herself. And those guys were good--no--they were excellent brothers and men, and they had BALLS.
Don't be put off because she wrote about mild events. You profess to like Freud, but he wrote about the pathological, about things that are not useful to most of us because most of us are in the normal range. Jane Austen wrote about the psychology and the ethics of normal people in normal situations. In other words, she wrote about the things that 90% of us need to hear. Judging by your posting, I can confidently predict that, if you give her a chance, you will fall in love with Jane Austen. I mean literally in love with Jane Austen. You will do that because of your nature and because she deserves your love. When that happens, I will say "Ha".
'Tiko wished to say something very sensible, but he knew not how'.
Get your hand off of it, son.
From the Meister: JULIE!
You warm my convict heart. I sometimes wonder if there is some deep, dark genetic reason why I eschew my country's love of heat, and yearn for 'dripping country lanes'.
I must say a word in defense of Mrs Austen, though. Having reared seven of her own children, and acted as matron to her husband's pupils, perhaps she had earned the right to a large bedroom. She must have worked very hard.
I hope Chawton is forever in the care of those who disapprove of 'film
adaptations', and do not wish to make money from Jane Austen's memory. My own
feeling is that, if one has not the mental capacity to appreciate the novels,
I am a English Literature student two weeks away from my A Level examination on "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE". Does anybody have any ideas on Austen's MODES OF WRITING???? What's her style? How does her authorial voice manifest itself in "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE"? Any help would really be appreciated. Does she use direct or indirect comments and so on?
Yes she does, yes she did, and yes I have. Feel free to e-mail me if
you want more specific comments - God, you sound panic-stricken!
On February 11th 1999 Bonhams will be offering at auction at least 28 silhouettes painted by Honoria Marsh in 1975, depicting characters from Jane Austen's novels. Are you interested?
From the Meister: Please feel free to supply
details. I will edit them into this very spot.
My recent essay topic is "It is said of Darcy that he lacks 'solidity' as a
character, that he only seems to exist to serve and that he interests us
chiefly because he is the centre of Elizabeth's interest. Discuss the
problem of Darcy's character." I need some help with this as I have trouble
finding references or quotes to back this up! Thank you anyone who has the
time to reply! My email is
I can't imagine who would have said such a silly thing. I can give you one implicit contradiction of that point of view: This from no less an authority than E. M. Forster, "(Jane Austen's characters) function all round, and even if her plot made greater demands on them than it does they would still be adequate. ... All the Jane Austen characters are ready for an extended life which the scheme of her books seldom requires them to lead, and that is why they lead their actual lives so satisfactorily. ..." You can quote E. M. Forster, but your instructor will not accept me as a reference; however, if you wish to question the authority of your instructor you might be able to use my posting on Darcy's character to aid in the formulation of your own ideas. (Cross that - this is not the era for questioning the authority of an instructor.)
The only thing I can think of to help you is to point to the 1979 screenplay of Pride and Prejudice by Fay Weldon. The Darcy portrayed in that screenplay was incomprehensible; so, perhaps his character is a bit of a mystery to feminists, I don't read that sort of thing, so I can't be sure. If it were I, I would look to that literature if I decided to play along with your instructor's assignment.