Virginia Woolf's Praise for Jane Austen

Virginia Woolf admired the writing of Jane Austen for many reasons. In A Room of One's Own, she speaks of how difficult it was in previous times, and indeed in her own time, for women to write outside of the male tradition.
"What genius, what integrity it must have required in face of all that criticism in the midst of that purely patriarchal society to hold fast to the thing as they saw it without shrinking. Only Jane Austen did it and Emily Bronte. It is another feather, perhaps the finest, in their caps. They wrote as women write, not as men write. Of all the thousand women who wrote novels, they alone entirely ignored the perpetual admonitions of the eternal pedagogue - write this, think that. They alone were deaf to that persistent voice, now grumbling, now patronising, now domineering, now grieved, now shocked, now angry, now avuncular, that voice which cannot let women alone, but must be at them like some too conscientous governess, adjuring them to be refined."

(A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf (Penguin 1945) p.75.)

Satan and Miss Bates

Noted philosopher and scholar, CS Lewis, uses Miss Bates in Emma to help readers better understand Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost.
"Before considering the character of Milton's Satan it may be desirable to remove an ambiguity by noticing that Jane Austen's Miss Bates could be described either as a very entertaining or a very tedious person. If we said the first, we should mean that the author's portrait of her entertains us while we read; if we said the second, we should mean that it does so by being the portrait of a person whom the other people in Emma find tedious and whose like we also should find tedious in real life. For it is a very old critical discovery that the imitation in art of unpleasing objects may be a pleasing imitation.

The Hell [Satan] carries with him is, in one sense a Hell of infinite boredom, Satan, like Miss Bates is interesting to read about; but Milton makes plain the blank uninterestingness of being Satan."

(A Preface to Paradise Lost, CS Lewis (OUP 1942) pp.94,102.)

New Library Books

Emma by Alexander McCall Smith

Emma is the third novel in The Austen Project in which six modern authors are updating Jane Austen's novels.

Emma Woodhouse's widowed father is an anxious man, obsessed with nutrition and the latest vitamins. He lives the life of a country gentleman in contemporary England, protectively raising his young daughters, Isabella and Emma. While Isabella grows into a young woman, marries a society photographer for Vogue at the age of 19 and gets down to the business of reproducing herself, Emma pursues a degree in interior design at university in Bath, and then returns to set up shop in her home village. With her educated eye for the coordination of pattern and colour, Emma thinks she can now judge what person would best be paired with another, and sets about matchmaking her young friend, Harriet, with various possible suitors.

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

Charlie Lovett's book, First Impressions explores Jane Austen's work through a modern character. Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice and ultimately threaten Sophie's life.

What Matters in Jane Austen by John Mullan

Which important Austen characters never speak? Is there any sex in Austen? What do the characters call one another, and why? What are the right and wrong ways to propose marriage? In What Matters In Jane Austen?, John Mullan shows that we can best appreciate Austen's brilliance by looking at the intriguing quirks and intricacies of her fiction. Asking and answering some very specific questions about what goes on in her novels, he reveals the inner workings of their greatness. In twenty short chapters, each of which explores a question prompted by Austens novels, Mullan illuminates the themes that matter most in her beloved fiction.

The History of England by Jane Austen

The History of England by the young Jane Austen was written when the author was fifteen. Austen mockingly imitates the style of textbook histories of English monarchs, while ridiculing historians' pretensions to objectivity. Her History cites as sources works of fiction and the opinions of Austen's family and friends. Along with accounts of English kings and queens which contain little factual information but a great deal of comically exaggerated opining about their characters and behaviour, the work includes material such as charades and puns on names. It was illustrated with coloured portraits by Austen's elder sister Cassandra, to whom the work is dedicated.

Our Library

At each meeting our library is open to members to borrow materials until the next meeting, with a small fee of 25 cents. To plan your reading in advance, review the Library List. Send an email to JASNA Calgary to request particular books, as our library is now too large to bring all the books to each meeting. If you cannot wait until the next meeting, try the resources of the Calgary Public Library.

New Media Jane Austen

Jane Austen: Essay Contest Winners 2013

JASNA annually sponsors an essay contest for students, from high-school to graduate studies. Our Jasna Calgary member, Judith, was a judge for the 2013 contest. The essays of all winners are on the JASNA site. Judith particularly recommends Time of the Season: Time as an Expression of the Individual in Pride and Prejudice for a fresh look at the suite of characters in the novel; and, Punctual to His Time: An Examination of Mr. Collins and Time in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice for a sympathetic analysis of Mr Collins' actions and motives.

Local Books

Alberta author, Samantha Adkins, explains on her blog why she wrote her new book, Banff Springs Abbey. In her own words, "In Banff Springs Abbey, I recreated the story of Northanger Abbey in modern Canada, but kept Catherine Morland as the main character. I was interested in what the story would look like two hundred years later. I had thought it would be more frightening, but the story itself if more of a satire of the gothic genre than an actual gothic story itself. It was a real joy imagining the story in my hometown and Catherine was an endearing character to explore."
Our very own JASNA Calgary scribe, Samantha Adkins, has published another Jane Austen themed book, Suspiciously Reserved, A Twist on Jane Austen's Emma. This tantalizing novel helps us imagine the story of Jane Fairfax, who is shabbily treated by Frank Churchill and by Emma Woodhouse. Samantha invites us to imagine her tale as set in present-day Canada.
Strathmore author, Samantha Adkins wrote Expectations, a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, for her sister's birthday. Expectations is set six months after Pride and Prejudice ends, in the style and voice of Jane Austen. It begins at Longbourn with Mrs. Bennet exhorting Mr. Bennet to write his married daughters, Elizabeth Darcy and Jane Bingley, telling them they must provide male heirs for their new husbands. Find out more about Expectations and make a purchase online.

Contemporaries on Jane Austen

Jane Austen Jane Austen's Family and Friends

Sir Walter Scott Sir Walter Scott

Charlotte Bronte Charlotte Bronte

Obituary for Jane Austen

The Gentleman's Magazine of July 18, 1817 carried this announcement of Jane Austen's death.

Austen recognized as author of four novels