Happy Valentines, Janeites! I hope today brings you love and friendship, good sense, and good times, and that you don’t suffer too greatly from the schemes and plots of matchmaking mamas.
How does a Janeites celebrate Valentine’s Day? I am not exactly sure… The possibilities seem endless, but I would happily surmise that good books and wonderful people are part of the mix!
My gifts for you today, dear readers, do not come in the shape of a heart or contain any form of chocolate, although I certainly hope you meet with either or both of these two treats today! Today, I have rounded up a little celebratory post for Janeites in the hopes that something here tickles your fancy, touches your heart, and lets you know how much I ardently love and admire you all, my dearest, loveliest readers!
I wanted to first share these snippets from a wonderful post I recently read about Jane Austen that I thought would be a nice share to celebrate the gift of Jane Austen today…
Jane Austen commented specifically on her own novels in relation to this kind of extravagantly romantic writing that:
I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my Life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first Chapter. – No – I must keep to my own style & go on in my own Way; And though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.
(1 April 1816, to James Stanier Clarke, an enthusiastic admirer of romances).
Thank you, Jane, for staying true to you! You’ve inspired millions of other people to follow your lead.
Jane Austen used fiction to describe social reality within her own time and class (the gentry and professional classes of southern England in the early 19th century). By so doing, she was able to introduce something closer to real morality in describing the range of human relationships that we all are likely to encounter in ordinary life. Her subjects are the behaviour of parents to their children, the dangers and pleasures of falling in love, of making friends, of getting on with neighbours, and above all of discriminating between those who mean us well and those who may not. (https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/jane-austens-social-realism-and-the-novel#sthash.9Wy7IJDf.dpuf)
Thank you, Jane, for recognizing the beauties in our everyday lives, and for celebrating the desires of the human heart!
Jane Austen’s social realism includes her understanding that women’s lives in the early 19th century are limited in opportunity, even among the gentry and upper middle classes. She understands that marriage is women’s best route to financial security and social respect. Many of the crucial events of her stories take place indoors, in the female space of the drawing room. Often her plots move forward by means of overheard conversations. She writes some of the most natural and real-seeming conversations in literature. Rumour places a large part in transmitting news, and in her small, enclosed communities, everyone is a gossip. (https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/jane-austens-social-realism-and-the-novel#sthash.9Wy7IJDf.dpuf)
Thank you, Jane, for highlighting the struggles faced by many women, and for shining a light on the many ways that women faced these struggles.
To say that Austen is a realist as a writer is not quite the same as saying she describes society as it really is. Her novels are also romantic comedies. In novel after novel, love and good fortune win out and the future looks perfect for the handsome young couple whose union is finally confirmed in the closing pages. This happens despite the fact that many married couples are portrayed as ill-suited or ridiculous (think of Mr and Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice or Mr and Mrs Elton in Emma). Realism is a literary device rejecting escapism and extravagance to produce a lifelike illusion and not a direct translation of reality. (https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/jane-austens-social-realism-and-the-novel#sthash.9Wy7IJDf.dpuf)
Thank you, Jane, for making us believe in the Happily-Ever-After, for using humor to add levity to your stories, and for inspiring us to find our own heroes and heroines in our everyday lives!
I rounded up some wonderful Valentine’s Day posts for Janeites, which I hope you will find as intriguing as I did…
I also wanted to share this great website, Read it Forward, for ardent readers who like to find inspiration for their next reads right here on the Internet. I also encourage you to visit the wonderful Austenesque bloggers listed on my sidebar for their timely reading suggestions.
Want to learn about a real-life writer living a double life today? This segment reminds me a little of our own dear Jane, who wrote under the name of A Lady while she was alive. Thanks, Beau North, for this great share!
Looking for a fun podcast to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Look no further than here: Excessively Diverted Episode 8 – Jane Austen Book Club: http://rhymeswithnerdy.com/excessively-diverted-episode-8-jane-austen-book-club/
Still looking for a way to send some love to your reading friends? Send them an e-card from Read it Forward. From funny to endearing, you’re certain to find a card for that special reader in your life.
I also want to thank you for being such a kind and fun Just Jane 1813 reader! Having all forms of love in my life makes my world go round, and you, my dear readers, are a special part of the love in my world! I’d love to hear how you are celebrating Valentine’s Day, so please drop me a line or two today!
Happy Valentine’s Day, Jane Austen style!