Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reading A-Z: Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility

It was impossible for her to say what she did not feel, however trivial the occasion; and upon Elinor therefore the whole task of telling lies when politeness required it, always fell.
-Chapter 21
I read bits of the introduction of this novel first, and was surprised to find that it is another contender for ‘Jane Austen’s worst novel’. I don’t really get why.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reading A-Z: Jane Austen's Mansfield Park

We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.
-Fanny Price, Chapter 42
I was about a third of the way through Mansfield Park when I first came across the idea that as a novel, it was not well liked. I have to say, I was a bit surprised, and even more so when I realised that the reason was Fanny Price!

I agree that Fanny is not Elizabeth Bennet, but I think she is different and not inherently inferior. In fact, as much as I’d like to be Lizzy, the reality is I am probably much more like Fanny (and lest you begin to think that my appreciation of the novel is purely narcissistic, let me say that my friend TH 11-Geek, is probably much more like Fanny than I am – I kept recognising bits of my friend in Fanny’s behaviour, particularly in her behaviour towards Mrs Norris and her cousins Maria and Julia).

I think Mansfield Park is novel much more about the interior than some of Jane Austen’s other novel. Fanny is much less active, obviously, but this is less important, because Fanny’s role is that of the observer, and the novel is, I think, more about Fanny’s inner life in response to the people around her than anything else.

I also think that Fanny is much stronger than people generally give her credit for – far from being the doormat she is painted, she is capable of standing up for what she believes in. True, she isn’t so good at standing up for herself, but is that any wonder, moulded as she has been by Mrs Norris, and forced into agonies of gratitude by her position as the poor relation? When it counts, when it is a moral ideal that needs defending, Fanny doesn’t falter, both with regards to the play, and, in my favourite section of the novel, when Sir Thomas is pushing her to accept Henry Crawford’s proposal.

Even though Fanny is used to yielding to other’s wishes, even though she longs never to be ungrateful, even as she driven to tears she stays her ground. Fanny’s triumph is a moral triumph. I must admit though, I did find Edmund quite foolish and insipid, and though I recognise it would have been quite impossible in Austen’s day, I think true happiness for Fanny could have been found alone.

The Reading A-Z

We just recently had a rental inspection, in which our landlord and The Ditz (aka the estate agent) visited out flat and made sure we hadn't demolished, burned or otherwise redecorated the place. The Flattie was absent, being employed full time. I got to watch these two illustrious personages tramp all over my home with those scariest of things - clipboards.

This meant I cleaned and tidied for most of the three days previous, and also meant that I shelved a lot of books, which were in piles... everywhere. In doing so I have made a shocking discovery: there are over fifty unread novels on my bookshelf. Some are novels I bought before my year abroad that I was obliged to leave unread, some are gifts that I (slackly) haven't cracked, but the vast majority are books I have bought when I was feeling blue, buying books being my chief method of cheering myself up.

And so, I have put a moratorium on myself, and decided that I will buy no more books til I have read the ones I own but haven't read. In alphabetical order (mostly) because I am anal like that. And in order to prove to myself that I am doing this, I will blog each book as I finish it. First up: Austen, Jane: Mansfield Park.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wardrobe Adventures

Alas, not Narnia.

I finally got a job. First shifts were over the weekend.

I don't want to talk about the job - it's waitressing, and why the hell did I decide to work in hospitality again?

I want to talk about my clothes.

On Saturday, I wore a tshirt/ bra combination I'd never worn before, and I kept on getting distracted. I'd look down, and go: wow cleavage! I mean, wow. There were boobs in my shirt. Having read a lot about slut shaming and the policing of women's bodies recently, I was kind of hoping to notice people treating me differently, but apparently my new!improved!boobage was noticeable only to me.

Sunday was much more embarrassing. I delivered a coffee to a little old lady, who stopped me to say "dear, you have a hole in your pants. I can see your undies". Luckily, I had safety pins in my bag, and disappeared into the loo to do surgery on my pants. I'm buying black jeans today.