Friday, August 31, 2012

Austen in August: Persuasion Read Along (Chps. 19-End)

You pierce my soul... 

Read my responses to chapters 1-7 and chapters 8-18.

Ahhhh! Just when I think it is impossible for me to love Persuasion any more than I already do, I read it again and learn anew the unlimited bound of love. Here are Misty's questions for the last third of the book, inspiring my final thoughts for the Persuasion Read Along, part of the Austen in August celebration (can it really be over already?!?):
  • What was your initial reaction to Persuasion as a whole? Did you connect with Anne as a heroine, and Wentworth as a hero? 
  • Has your perception of Persuasion changed since reading it, especially if you've read it more than once?
  • The characters are constantly on the move in Persuasion (from Kellynch to Uppercross to Lyme to Bath, etc), so the reader gets to see a variety of scenes; did you like the constant changes of scenery? Did you have a favorite? Do you think the different locations bring out different aspects of the characters?
  • Discuss one of the biggest fangirl-inducing moments in Austen: "The Letter;" did you know the ending was originally written without "The Letter" in it? Do you think your overall perception of the story would change without "The Letter"?
  • What do you anticipate for the futures of any of the characters, but particularly Anne? Will her family ever come to accept Wentworth, or is she essentially disowning herself by marrying him?
  • On reflection, are you ever bothered by the fact that Anne is essentially put in the same position - to give up the life she knows and loves for Wentworth, and that the same is never expected of him? Does this bother your modern sensibilities, or do you think the right decision is made regardless?
  • What were your favorite parts of the novel? Your least favorite? Things you wish were different?
  • Any last thoughts on the book?
Has any author ever portrayed a romantic connection with more power than Jane Austen in her final novel? As readers, we can actually feel the magnetism between Anne and Wentworth as we struggle along side them, trying to communicate through the seemingly insurmountable barriers of social restrictions on interaction between the sexes. Even Anne, meticulously correct on all points of etiquette, eagerly casts aside prohibitions as she snatches up Wentworth's letter. Though she must know something of its content, she cannot believe her own eyes as she reads. I too must always read the letter at least twice:
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in

F. W.
After countless readings, how surprising to find in this letter something I had never noticed before! "For you alone, I think and plan." I had always assumed this referred only to his coming to Bath, but with this reading, I think I am beginning to believe that Captain Wentworth has put far more into the orchestration of this moment than I had previously imagined. What I am proposing is that Captain Harville comes to Bath specifically to aid Wentworth in his quest to win Anne. Let's call him a wing man: quite the same role Colonel Wallis occupies in relation to Mr. Elliot. Follow me through the chronology (my annotated edition by David M. Shapard, which I reviewed here, was indispensable in figuring this out):
  1. Captain Wentworth arrives in Bath on a Wednesday. He sees Anne in Molland's on Thursday and is snubbed by Elizabeth.
  2. On Friday or Saturday Captain Harville begins to talk of journeying to Bath on business. Mrs. Harville is very supportive of the notion, particularly if he is accompanied by Charles Musgrove (see Chapter 22)
  3. The Musgrove party arrives in Bath the following Friday, and the very next day Wentworth is able to propose, directly following Anne's revelation of her feelings through conversation with Harville.
Now I freely acknowledge that I am engaging in a great deal of supposition, but I do think there is enough contextual evidence to make mine a valid theory. It is very natural to imagine that Captain Wentworth would write of his frustrations to his friend Harville, especially if he had alighted on the notion of somehow getting the Musgroves to Bath, a circumstance which would necessarily provide Anne and he with far more opportunities for social interaction than they would otherwise have. I also think it reasonable to assume that Captain Wentworth, accomplished naval man that he is, would attempt to overcome the obstacles in his path through strategy, rather than aimless wandering the town, hoping opportunity just happens to find him. I always felt that the arrival of the Musgroves was a bit too convenient, though as it certainly would not be the only time Austen relied on a timely coincidence to further her plot, I had always dismissed the issue. Having examined the timing, however, and knowing that Austen was very careful in her chronology, I now attribute the entire party to the plotting of Harville and Wentworth.

Look at the behavior of the two men on the day the letter is exchanged. Mrs. Croft, perhaps in on the conspiracy, has garnered all of Mrs. Musgrove's none too perceptive attentions upon herself. The only two other people in the room are the gentlemen, and Captain Wentworth almost immediately positions himself at the writing desk, from where he can apparently attend to all that is being said in the room. Anne should, by the rules of polite society, either belong to the conversation of the ladies, or be entertained by Captain Harville, but "Anne felt that she did not belong to the conversation, and yet, as Captain Harville seemed thoughtful and not disposed to talk, she could not avoid hearing many undesirable particulars...". This includes Mrs. Croft's declarations against uncertain engagements, a comment that turns both Anne and Wentworth's attention to each other.

Suddenly, Captain Harville becomes desirous to converse with Anne. Though Austen tells us that he paid no attention to what the ladies had just been saying, I cannot help but wonder if Wentworth hasn't nudged him into action. Regardless, he leads Anne directly into a discussion perfectly suited to revealing her present sentiments towards Captain Wentworth. I do not claim that Wentworth planned to pen a declaration while the debate between Anne and Harville occurred, for such sentiments as he expresses MUST be spontaneous, only that Harville intentionally sought to reveal her sentiments before his friend. Anne, as anxious as anyone to expose her feelings, helps this endeavor succeed far more than either man could predict. Her passion is evident, and determines Wentworth on immediate action. At one point, Harville seeks to conclude the discussion ("We shall never agree upon this question"), but Wentworth drops his pen, gaining his attention and encouraging him to continue the sujbect, which he easily does ("let me observe that all histories are against you"). This leads her to the most emotional speech we ever hear from Anne:
"Oh!" cried Anne eagerly, "I hope I do justice to all that is felt by you, and by those who resemble you. God forbid that I should undervalue the warm and faithful feelings of any of my fellow-creatures! I should deserve utter contempt if I dared to suppose that true attachment and constancy were known only by woman. No, I believe you capable of everything great and good in your married lives. I believe you equal to every important exertion, and to every domestic forbearance, so long as--if I may be allowed the expression--so long as you have an object. I mean while the woman you love lives, and lives for you. All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one; you need not covet it), is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone."

She could not immediately have uttered another sentence; her heart was too full, her breath too much oppressed.

"You are a good soul," cried Captain Harville, putting his hand on her arm, quite affectionately. "There is no quarreling with you. And when I think of Benwick, my tongue is tied."

Their attention was called towards the others. Mrs. Croft was taking leave.
Everyone who might be in on the plot seems to understand that enough has been said. For someone as elegant as Anne is, to be rendered out of breath by the passion of your words is no everyday occurrence. It would be marked by all sensible people in the room (i.e. everyone but Mrs. Musgrove). Captain Harville's response particularly emphasizes the intimacy of her outpouring, as a gentleman would not typically pat an unmarried lady's arm unless they were related, particularly not affectionately. It's almost as if is giving his blessing to the match, agreeing that here is the lady good enough for his friend. She has passed his test.

So what do you think of my theory? Does it hold water with anyone? I know I've strayed pretty far from Misty's questions in this Read Along post. If you would like to see them handled more conventionally, I highly suggest checking out the other participants' responses

It was a great indulgence to read this book again, and I am indebted to The Book Rat for the opportunity.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Mixed Up Mashup: In The Rose Garden

Read the introduction:

Colin Firth 1995
Mr. Darcy paced impatiently. He knew she often walked here, and he suspected she would seek the solace of a solitary ramble on this particular morning. Such strong emotions as Miss Elizabeth Bennet had expressed the previous evening were far from customary to that lady: she would certainly require recuperation.. And so he remained where he was, striding back and forth through the grove, trying to conquer his own perturbation.

Catherine raced along as quickly as her skirts would carry her through the shrubbery. Speed was of the essence, though she just knew her sister must be mistaken. Mr. Tilney could not be here! No indeed! That could not be his hat she spotted through the wood, but she further quickened her pace nonetheless. His height! His cut of coat! But was he not too broad? No, it must be he, and her heart raced forward towards him as he turned, sensing her approach, to project his own greeting her way. But no! She halted, frozen in place, for it was not, after all, Mr. Tilney, but a complete stranger before her, of handsome but excessively stern countenance. Instinctively she turned in flight, but before she could dissapear whence she came, he called out, "Excuse me! Miss!"

Felicity Jones 2007
Manners well ingrained acknowledged his hail, and she turned inquiring eyes upon him, as he passed through the gate separating the Mr. Allen's estate from the parsonage.

He frowned. "You are not Miss Bennet."

"No, sir!" she replied, curiosity rising.

"Do you have a purpose here?" he pressed. "Forgive me if I intrude, but these are my aunt's grounds."

"You must be mistaken," she replied too readily. "This land belongs to the parsonage. My father is Rector," she continued, by way of explanation.

Mr. Darcy, being rather sleep deprived and depressed, was feeling more excitable than was his custom, and he replied in open horror, "Good god! It cannot be so!"

Miss Morland was affronted. "I have no reason to prevaricate, sir!"

"You are the daughter of Mr. Collins?"

"Certainly not! I am Mr. Morland's eldest daughter," she said in superior tones. "Who might you be? Mrs. Allen has no nephews your age."

"Mrs. Allen? I have no notion of any such person! This land belongs to Rosings," he gestured empirically towards the house, just visible through the trees, "the estate of Lady Catherine de Bourgh,"

"You are mistaken, sir!" she stubbornly insisted, though quite unsure from where the great house had appeared. "This land belongs to Fullerton, as it always has."

Darcy knew not what to make of such an assertion. He had never heard of Fullerton, and he was on the verge of concluding the young lady was out of her senses, when he suddenly had cause to doubt his own. There, right before him, where he was certain a path never before existed, came a young lady, elegantly dressed and of eager stride,

Gwyneth Paltrow  1996
"May I be of some assistance?" Emma inquired pleasantly, eying the two before her with approval. She knew not what two fashionable strangers were doing in Highbury, but she was pleased to see them. It had been a particularly dull morning, and such interesting persons, arguing in the middle of the lane, must provide diversion. When neither responded to her question, only staring at her most disconcertingly, she pressed on. "You appear as if you were lost," she explained, somewhat irritated that it should be necessary. "I know this country well and might be able to direct you."

"But," stammered Catherine, looking to the strange gentleman for confirmation of what she saw, "but, excuse me, but there was no a lane here before, was there?"

"Certainly not," affirmed Mr. Darcy, relieved enough to have his own senses confirmed that he dispensed with any examination of his measure. Other questions were more pressing, "How it comes here now, I cannot say, but it certainly is here ... " he paused in confusion " ... now."

Emma, quite out of patience, spoke her mind. "What nonesense is this? This path, or something very near like it, has been here more than 20 years," she asserted confidently, "and though I cannot bear witness to what proceeded that time, I think it is enough is to prove the path's existence just a few moments past."

Though he could not see where it led, Darcy thought he spotted a glimmer of light ahead. "Then tell me, Miss ... I am so sorry, ought we not introduce ourselves? I am Fitzwilliam Darcy, of Derbyshire, and this is Miss Morland, of Fullerton, I believe, and you are?"

"Miss Woodhouse!" she snapped, quite expecting to repress the man's impertinence. Her surprise when the name meant nothing to her companions was transparent.

Darcy saw her confusion and hurried to establish those facts he could. "Miss Woodhouse, I do not know from where you materialized, nor Miss Morland either, but I do know that this," he pointed again towards Rosings, "is the estate of my aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. You can both see the house, can you not?"

"From where did it come?" exclaimed Emma in disbelief, but before the matter could be further investigated, an angry voice was heard approaching from the direction in which all three were gazing.

Judi Dench 2005
"I will not have it, sir! I cannot say how such a thing has come to be, but I warn you it will not be tolerated!"

Mr. Darcy had only just processed who it was that spoke so empirically when his aunt, accompanied by Charles Bingley, came into view.

The latter spotted his friend gratefully, but before he could express a word of greeting, Lady Catherine had commanded his attention.

"Darcy! There you are! You must assist me. This man has put a house on my lawn, and I insist that it must be removed at once!"

Simon Woods 2005
Darcy blinked at Charles, who hurried, as best he could, to explain the situation. "I do not know how it may have happened, Darcy! A marvel it is, but I am only leasing the house, you know, so I really cannot be held responsible for a thing like this." He gestured behind him, where the ramparts of a second house, quite next to Rosings, were suddenly visible.

"Am I to assume that is Netherfield Hall?" Darcy confirmed, adding dryly, "What is it doing in Kent?"

"This cannot be!" declared Miss Woodhouse. "We all saw that it was not there two minutes ago. And we are not in Kent, but Surrey! What can be happening?"

"Oh, dear!" a new female voice was heard to moan, and the entire assemblage turned to confront two newcomers: a young woman, perhaps slightly passed her prime, and an older gentleman, of extremely dignified appearance. "We cannot live in Surrey! It is far too close to London."

Valerie Gearon 1971
"Indeed my dear, you are quite right!" the man replied. "Nothing but merchants and tradesmen, seeking to gain a bit of respectability by purchasing the mere acre or two of land, at an easy distance from their shops and warehouses. Surrey will not do for us."

"Pardon me," declared an incensed Miss Woodhouse, "but I have heard it said that Surrey is the garden of England."

"Your point is highly irrelevant," chimed in Lady Catherine, not to be outdone in indignation, "as Rosings is in Kent. The De Bourghs have always hailed form Kent, and neither or I, nor my daughter, will reside anywhere else!"

Elizabeth Elliot sniffed disdainfully. "I do not what to think of this new company we have found ourselves in, Papa. Who might they be?"

Basil Dignam 1971
"I don't know my dear, but this gentleman certainly appears presentable," Sir Walter indicated to Darcy while eying his greatcoat. "My good sir, who is your tailor? He has done an excellent job with your capes."

Darcy wondered at such an inquiry amidst the state of confusion they were in. Disregarding it, he focused on the matter at hand. "Clearly we are experiencing a most odd phenomenon. Neither roads nor houses materialize out of nowhere, and whole counties have no means of collision."

"Perhaps I can help elucidate the matter," chimed in a tall gentleman, emerging from the shrubbery.

"Mr. Tilney!" Catherine cried in delight, approaching him with eager steps before she remembered to be embarrassed.

JJ Feild 2007
"My dear Miss Morland," he smiled upon her. "How happy I am to find you safe, if in highly unusual circumstances. My good ladies and gentleman," he addressed the, "while I have no scientific explanation for the strange phenomenon we are experiencing, I have gained some insight into the reason behind it. Though my explanation does not precisely conform to the laws of physics, unless this is some fantastic dream, I think it is the best for which we can hope. My own home is surprisingly close by, but as I look about me," he gestured to the many impressive estates now within view, "some of yours must be even more convenient. Might we adjourn to one, in order to discuss the matter? Whose is this?" he pointed to the closest edifice, a massive and meandering building that looked as if it would be far more comfortable in the neat grove for which it was built, rather than sitting in prominence upon the hill top.

"Why, that's Donwell Abbey!" cried Emma eagerly, expressing both her perplexity and relief. "Mr. Knightley will see us comfortable. Shall we proceed?"

But with so many great personages at hand, all determined to direct the situation as they saw fit, forward motion was hard to achieve. Perceiving Darcy's inclination to follow Miss Woodhouse, Lady Catherine eventually allowed herself to be persuaded, but Sir Walter posed a seemingly insurmountable barrier in his insistence that such a party's descention upon any house, let alone an abbey, would be an inexcusable breach of etiquette. No one disagreed, which is why he proved so hard to sway, but under such exceptional circumstances, it was concluded the faux pas would be overlooked. There was some further debate about the proper order in which they should proceed, requiring more introductions to determine, but once finally underway they speedily reached Donwell, where they were greeted by an understandably bewildered Mr. Knightley.

Jeremy Northam 1996
"Emma," he cried upon seeing her. "Perhaps you can explain what Hartfield is doing upon my lawns?"

"Oh dear," she replied, eyeing her family home with disapproval. "I do not know what is happening, Mr. Knightley, but all these people are misplaced, it seems. We came here to confer with you."

"I do have some notion of what is happening, sir," said Mr. Tilney. "Might we impose upon your hospitality?"

"By all means," Mr. Knightley replied, seeing in his expression, and that of Mr. Darcy, reasonable men determined to address the perplexing problem at hand. The rest of the assemblage, based on looks alone, he could not depend on. As if he were accustomed to entertaining such an assortment of personages, he opened his doors and called for tea.


More to follow. For context on what all this is about, please see my intro.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Austen in August: Persuasion Read Along (Chps. 8-18)

Check out my thoughts on chapters 1-7 here.

Ok! I'm running a bit late on this, as I have been in Texas for the past several days, but here are the questions for the 2nd installment of Persuasion Read Along posts, as part of Austen in August, and my erratically formed response below. 

  • Now that we've gotten to know most of them a bit, discuss the side characters: who is your favorite? least favorite? Were there things Austen did with these side characters that you absolutely loved or hated?
  • As Anne and Wentworth are thrown together more and more, how do you feel about the fact that they never address their shared history? Do you find either to be irrational or unjust in not being open with the other and broaching the topic? Do you find Anne too self-sacrificing?
  • Is there ever a time you dislike Capt. Wentworth? Were you put off by his treatment of Anne?
  • Discuss the incidents at Lyme; consider Louisa's fall from the cob and Wentworth's subsequent praise of Anne, the appearance of Mr Elliot and his reaction to Anne (and Wentworth's reaction to him), etc.
  • Discuss Anne's arrival in Bath, considering the continued presence of Mr Elliot, Anne's reaction to her family and the way she begins to distance herself from them and stand up for herself more than she has been known to do.
Chapter eight of this book is so maddening brilliant. We feel all of Anne's intense pain. I think the scene where she sits playing the piano is arguably the most amazing Austen ever wrote:
The evening ended with dancing. On its being proposed, Anne offered her services, as usual; and though her eyes would sometimes fill with tears as she sat at the instrument, she was extremely glad to be employed, and desired nothing in return but to be unobserved.

It was a merry, joyous party, and no one seemed in higher spirits than Captain Wentworth. She felt that he had every thing to elevate him which general attention and deference, and especially the attention of all the young women, could do. The Miss Hayters, the females of the family of cousins already mentioned, were apparently admitted to the honour of being in love with him; and as for Henrietta and Louisa, they both seemed so entirely occupied by him, that nothing but the continued appearance of the most perfect good-will between themselves could have made it credible that they were not decided rivals. If he were a little spoilt by such universal, such eager admiration, who could wonder?

These were some of the thoughts which occupied Anne, while her fingers were mechanically at work, proceeding for half an hour together, equally without error, and without consciousness. Once she felt that he was looking at herself, observing her altered features, perhaps, trying to trace in them the ruins of the face which had once charmed him; and once she knew that he must have spoken of her; she was hardly aware of it, till she heard the answer; but then she was sure of his having asked his partner whether Miss Elliot never danced? The answer was, "Oh, no; never; she has quite given up dancing. She had rather play. She is never tired of playing." Once, too, he spoke to her. She had left the instrument on the dancing being over, and he had sat down to try to make out an air which he wished to give the Miss Musgroves an idea of. Unintentionally she returned to that part of the room; he saw her, and, instantly rising, said, with studied politeness--

"I beg your pardon, madam, this is your seat;" and though she immediately drew back with a decided negative, he was not to be induced to sit down again.

Anne did not wish for more of such looks and speeches. His cold politeness, his ceremonious grace, were worse than anything.
The contrast between Wentworth and Anne is so stark: her angst so acute, his high spirits so cruelly mocking! Charlotte Bronte famously criticized Austen for her lack of passion, but how can one read this chapter, entering into all of Anne's feelings, as we must, and not want to weep for her? The hopelessness of Anne's circumstances gets reinforced time and again during this middle part of the book, even while Austen teases her (and us) with hope. The secondary characters to whom Misty draws our attention are the tools Austen uses to accomplish this dance, playing upon our emotions. Wentworth will display kindness towards Anne (when he removes her nephew from her back, when he places her in the Croft's gig, and when he brings an update on Louisa's condition to Kellynch Lodge), but then his conversations, always with someone other than Anne, emphasize the notion of his affections being directed elsewhere. His soliloquy on the nut, as well as his use of Louisa's first name ( "Dear, sweet Louisa!"), are all clear indications, in this society, of marital intentions towards her, and Anne certainly feels their blow. But remember, he refers to Anne by her first name as well: "But as to the rest, as to the others, if one stays to assist Mrs. Harville, I think it need be only one. Mrs. Charles Musgrove will, of course, wish to get back to her children; but if Anne will stay, no one so proper, so capable as Anne." The familiarity he betrays with her here (especially when maintaining such a formal tone towards Mary and particularly Mrs. Harville, with whom he is very intimate), while acknowledging his high opinion of her capabilities, makes this a giddy moment indeed: "She paused a moment to recover from the emotion of hearing herself so spoken of." And then he turns and addresses her directly! For the first time! Though he quickly subdues this outburst, he has already betrayed himself. By turning instinctively to Anne in his time of need, he reveals much of his true sentiments for her, demonstrating precisely the openness that Anne mistrusts Mr. Elliot for not possessing.

Austen's playing with both Anne and the reader's emotions in this manner, eventually working us up into a truly fevered pitch, takes its toll in rendering Wentworth a bit fickle. It is largely because Anne cares for him that we believe him worthy of her, for his behavior does not speak well for him. Don't get me wrong - I find Wentworth as irresistible as any Janeite - but at this point in the book, he's not at his best. We forgive him because we understand he is angry and hurt, but it is undeniable that he acts without proper consideration for the perception he creates and the effect it has on others, as he will admit himself in the last section of the book. In contrast, and perhaps precisely because he is so aware of his own actions and their consequences, Mr. Elliot is looking pretty great. He sees Anne's beauty when no one else does, treats her with flattering consideration, and provides us with the supreme gratification of knowing our heroine preferred to her odious sister. Between him and Captain Benwick, we become assured that Anne is not doomed to be an old maid, but it is perhaps Sir Walter's compliments on her approved appearance that hold the most weight, for if he is unreliable on every other topic, we can firmly depend on his expertise in matters of beauty.

I really do love Sir Walter, as horrible as he is. He is such an amusing character: so completely foolish and oblivious to all but his own concerns. I find him one of the most entertaining specimens of humanity Austen presents for our amusement. In fact, all the Ellitos provide me with a great deal of gratifying eye rolling. The Musgroves, on the other hand, bore me. Louisa and Henrietta are so vapid that, however good-natured they may be, or touching in their sisterly devotion, I find myself hard pressed to attend to passages focused upon them. Charles Musgrove is just irritating, with all his hunting fervor. This line, in particular, always makes me cringe:
Mary had shewn herself disobliging to him, and was now to reap the consequence, which consequence was his dropping her arm almost every moment to cut off the heads of some nettles in the hedge with his switch; and when Mary began to complain of it, and lament her being ill-used, according to custom, in being on the hedge side, while Anne was never incommoded on the other, he dropped the arms of both to hunt after a weasel which he had a momentary glance of, and they could hardly get him along at all.
I cannot tell you how often the image of Charles darting after that weasel has haunted me, but it sets up Wentworth to look particularly refined and gallant in comparison, and it is, in part, the inferiority of her companions that makes Anne's near perfection so starkly apparent.    

Generally, I think Misty's questions have been fabulous, and I again commend her for breaking up the book into the sections she did, but I do have a qualm with an assertion she makes, regarding "the way she begins to distance herself from them and stand up for herself more than she has been known to do." I don't think there is any evidence that Anne has not always allowed her conscience to dictate her actions, as she does when refusing to break her engagement with Mrs. Smith to attend the Dalrymples. We know she has never been in high favor with Sir Walter and Elizabeth, or even comprehensible to them, and I imagine it is because she has again and again been guided by values completely alien to them. We do not see enough of Anne's earlier behavior to mark this as a departure. Even the shame she expresses in Sir Walter and Elizabeth's grovelling attitude towards their grand relations is only a result of never having seen them in such company before, and while novel in that sense, it cannot be much different than the embarrassment they have caused her in a variety of other areas, particularly her father failure to be a proper steward to his estate. I think her determination to not go to the Dalrymples is an episode that shines more light on the characters of Lady Russell and Mr. Elliot than herself, for while they both honor the sentiments motivating Anne, they have no compunction in rearranging their own plans.

One last thought in regards to Mrs. Smith, who I find endlessly fascinating, She is unlike any other character in Austen, perhaps bearing something of a resemblance to Miss Bates in her circumstances, but her intelligence sets them wildly apart. To have this glimpse into the life of the impoverished gentry is mesmerizing to me, and it allows Austen to provide her clearest expression of the importance of endurance and positivity, a theme present in all her novels:
 In the course of a second visit she talked with great openness, and Anne's astonishment increased. She could scarcely imagine a more cheerless situation in itself than Mrs. Smith's. She had been very fond of her husband: she had buried him. She had been used to affluence: it was gone. She had no child to connect her with life and happiness again, no relations to assist in the arrangement of perplexed affairs, no health to make all the rest supportable. Her accommodations were limited to a noisy parlour, and a dark bedroom behind, with no possibility of moving from one to the other without assistance, which there was only one servant in the house to afford, and she never quitted the house but to be conveyed into the warm bath. Yet, in spite of all this, Anne had reason to believe that she had moments only of languor and depression, to hours of occupation and enjoyment. How could it be? She watched, observed, reflected, and finally determined that this was not a case of fortitude or of resignation only. A submissive spirit might be patient, a strong understanding would supply resolution, but here was something more; here was that elasticity of mind, that disposition to be comforted, that power of turning readily from evil to good, and of finding employment which carried her out of herself, which was from nature alone. It was the choicest gift of Heaven; and Anne viewed her friend as one of those instances in which, by a merciful appointment, it seems designed to counterbalance almost every other want.
The picture painted also changes our perception of Anne's situation, which, though looking up at this point, still commands our sympathies. In Mrs. Smith, we see how fortunate Anne really is. Though her family's prominence has diminished, and though they be poor companions, she is still secure of the dignities of her rank. She has a great deal more security than most of Austen's heroines, and has little fear of ever finding herself in such truly wretched circumstances as Mrs. Smith's. I think Persuasion does more to illuminate the plight of women at this time period than any of Austen's novels.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Austen in August: Second Glances Excerpt and First Impressions Giveaway

There may not be many of you out there, but I am sure that at least a handful of people have been waiting impatiently for Second Glances to finally be complete. Today your curiosity can begin to be sated. Just go visit The Book Rat to read an excerpt and meet my hero, Sir James Stratton, as he descends upon Longbourn for the first time. I'll wait patiently right here...

...So what did you think? I hope my creation meets with your approval! As I had no new characters take part in First Impressions, writing Second Glances was a very different experience. I am very fond of Sir James, and I hope you come to love him too.

Not sure how Longbourn came to be found in such a state? Be sure to enter the international giveaway to win a copy of First Impressions, and you can find out exactly how the stage was set (you can read the first few chapters of that book here).

I have been away from home since last Thursday and do not return until tomorrow, an interruption which has left me behind on my Persuasion Read Along posts, but I hope to have the next section finished by Tuesday. In the meantime, you can read all the other participants responses to Austen's most beloved book (no arguments there, I am sure) right here, to say nothing of all the other fabulous posts that have been part of Austen in August. Misty, The Book Rat herself, has done a phenomenal job hosting this event, and we still have a few more awesome days of fun and excitement, to say nothing of giveaways, yet to enjoy. Don't miss out!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Austen in August: Austen's Top Five Insults

Please go check out my contribution to Austen in August, which was posted today at This event has really been phenomenal, and if you haven't had a chance to browse all the awesome Austen posts yet, contributed by a variety of devoted Janeites and authors, you should definitely take the time. There are also some really fabulous giveaways, let alone the Persuasion read along, so be sure to not miss out!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Mixed Up Mashup Introduction

Thing 1: It is has been to my great sorrow that I have no more mashups to write (find out what I speak of here). Bonnets and Broomsticks was a one time lark, and Northanger Abbey has not adaptations enough to make such an endeavor worthwhile, my prejudices entirely in favor of the 2007 cast.

Thing 2: As I struggle to reinvent this blog to fit my new lifestyle, the one Austen related activity I have ample time for remains daydreaming while pushing my daughter's stroller about the neighborhood, a magical place I call Austenland (for those who have no notion what I speak of, check out my contribution to Austenesque Extravaganza 2011.)

So why not make use of the resources at my disposal? I propose a Mixed Up Mashup, where my favorite actors in each role portray the crazy ramblings of my imagination.  In order to proceed on this notion, a few necessities must first be addressed. When I did the mashups, I failed to find images of all my choices, and as I am too lazy to edit the original posts, I will simply fill in the holes (that I can) here. Presenting missing characters from ...

Raymond Adamson as Mr. Weston:

Robert East as Frank Chruchill:

John Fredenburgh as John Knightley:

Meg Gleed as Isabella Knightley:

Mollie Sugden as Mrs. Goddard:


Basil Dignam as Sir Walter Elliot:

Morag Hood as Mary Musgrove:

Valerie Gearon as Elizabeth Elliot:

Judy Cornwell & Roger Hammond as Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove:

Robert Glenister as Captain Harville:

Sense and Sensibility

Annie Leon as Mrs. Jennings:

More to follow soon!




Sense and Sensibility

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mansfield Park read by Wanda McCaddon

On our recent trip to Kentucky, the car ride was made far more enjoyable by the audio recording of Mansfield Park I borrowed from the library. It had been about three years since I last read the novel, and I was starkly reminded of how much I love this story and how very depressing it is when compared to Austen's other works. I could go off on my typical rant about the virtues of Fanny Price, the insufferable obliviousness of Edmund Bertram, and why the Crawfords are thoroughly deserving of their fates, but those topics have already been canvassed at length on this blog. Today I really just want to take a moment and commend Wanda McCaddon for her wonderful performance of this sadly misunderstood novel.

I am a big fan of audio books and have encountered all sorts. When selecting one, after making sure it is unabridged, my next thoughts are for the reader. A good performance makes such a difference in a recording, and Ms. McCaddon did a stupendous job with Mansfield Park. She provided just enough characterization to make the dialogue easily followable, but she did not make the frequent mistake of overacting, which is easily done on audio books. When actors get too invested in their characters, their vocal modulations go all over the place, causing a reader to have to fiddle with the volume constantly while driving (to the great horror of Secretary LaHood). One character is loud and piercing (say a Mr. Yates), while another (perhaps Fanny herself) is barely audible. But these are just examples, for Ms. McCaddon makes no such blunders. Her voice is crisp and intelligible throughout.

The other common problem I encounter are performances that attempt no character expression at all. If I wanted to listen to a reader drone on in uninspired monotony, I could listen to my Kindle.

I should mention that the disks come with an eBook, but as my copy from the library did not include this, I cannot say whether it adds any value. This Tantor Unabridged Classics recording ranges on Amazon from $25 to $40, which while not hugely expensive for an audio book, is pretty steep for something you will probably only ever use once. I suggest supporting your public library, as I will in my hunt for other Jane Austen recordings by Tantor. They have done all her novels, as well as a good smattering of Austenesque, and both Emma and Sense & Sensibility are also read by Ms. McCaddon.

Now I just need to take another ten hour or more drive.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Austen in August: Persuasion Read Along (Chps. 1-7)

I have decided to approach Misty's questions as a guide for my thoughts as I read and have provided my free-for-all approach to a response below, but here are the questions anyway, so that everyone can see the premise from which I meandered:

  • What are your initial impressions of the story? Do you like the set-up for the world and the conflicts? Did you find any of it hard to understand or relate to?
  • What are your impressions of the characters so far? Especially in regards to Anne, who is considered quite a bit different from other Austen heroines (besides being the oldest, she's had love and let it go, and now has had years to reflect on that).
  • Do you think Anne was right to have yielded to the pressure of those close to her - to have been "persuaded" - not to accept Wentworth's first proposal?
  • What do you make of Anne's family (and extended family, including Lady Russell), and her place among them? How do the people in Anne's life treat her, and what was your reaction to that?
  • Discuss Anne's first few meetings with Wentworth, or Wentworth's entry into the story in general.
Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch-hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage...

I still get chills of excitement every time I read those words. He doesn't read?! Don't you just hate the man already? I believe the first few chapters of Persuasion are the absolute best Austen ever wrote (I could say much about how I think she is better on beginnings than ends in general, but that would be far too great of a tangent to take). Why is it so awesome that the book begins with Sir Walter Elliot and the Baronetage? One reason is that it allows Austen to reveal a ton of information about her characters in an amazingly small amount of time. By the end of the first paragraph we know all the members of the Elliot family, their social status, that Lady Elliot is long dead, and that she died without providing an heir to Sir Walter, and that Sir Walter is a pompous ass. Readers have an immediate sympathy for his motherless daughters, "an awful charge rather, to confide to the authority and guidance of a conceited, silly father", and by the end of the second paragraph, when we learn that only the youngest has yet married, we feel even more sympathy for the older, remaining Miss Elliots ("Always to be presented with the date of her own birth and see no marriage follow but that of a youngest sister, made the book an evil"). We make such rapid progress in this book, and then Austen casts us into limbo, forcing us to endure the dreadfully boring Baronetage and scramble our ways into whatever plot info we can take away from it. Oh good! there is an heir - a possible hero? Yes, we readily believe vanity to be the beginning and end of Sir Walter's character. He did not marry Lady Russell, but we do have a maternal figure. Yet still we do not know who is our heroine!

Austen toys with us so masterfully in this first chapter, playing with our expectation like the virtuoso she is, building tension before defying convention. When first Elizabeth and then Anne Elliot are finally introduced, it is clear that the authoress favors the latter:

... but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character, which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding, was nobody with either father or sister: her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give way; - she was only Anne.  

Now we feel our story begins in earnest, but it is only to learn that Anne is passed her bloom and Elizabeth is very pretty, though nearly thirty. This proceeds a discourse of Elizabeth's precise situation, which is intriguing, and we begin to wonder if we misread previous hints, and Elizabeth isn't our heroine after all, especially as she appears on the surface quite like Emma Woodhouse. We end the chapter with news of financial distress, and gain no real additional information about Anne until the last paragraph of chapter three, only a steady revelation of her good sense and intelligence amidst the pompous and ignorant. Then suddenly we end on her first significant words, "A few months more, and he, perhaps, may be walking here."

Ann Firbank playing Anne Elliot in the 1971 mini-series
Here the book goes from being about anything but Anne to nothing but Anne, and her perspective is dominant throughout the rest of the book. Though we greet the Elliots without the benefit of her good opinion, the Musgroves are entirely seen through her eyes, giving us extraordinary insight into this heroine's mind. I think Persuasion has by far the most introspective tone of Austen's novels; we have access to Anne Elliot's thoughts and feelings with an acuteness none of her other heroines achieve. I believe it was C.S. Lewis who wrote - though I have no notion where - about the psychoanalytic aspects of this novel. He made a very good point (wish I could share it), and the awareness of Anne's ego, long before Freud was even born, makes this a startlingly modern novel. Here is Austen at the height of her abilities, and she paints Anne Elliot so realistically that she could step from the pages and converse on any number of topics, from Shakespeare to the conveniences of modern plumbing.

If Anne's introduction is long and subtle, slowly revealing her inner majesty behind the facade of a wallflower, Captain Wentworth's is dynamic, like him, and comes in the form of a negative: "He was not Mr. Wentworth, the former curate of Monkford...". It is a phenomenal way to commence the chapter that finally delivers the eagerly awaited love story we knew just had to be coming, and it is particularly appropriate, for Wentworth will spend such a huge amount of energy denying his feelings. Austen creates an image of all that is amiable: confidence, ambition, and finally success combine in one idealized specimen of manhood. The next several chapters focus on the build up to the reunion between these fractured lovers. I think Misty made a a great choice in ending this segment after chapter seven, seeing us just past Anne and Wentworth's meeting, and making us stop and think about the painful blow just delivered: "Altered beyond his knowledge!" This might be the cruelest thing any Austen heroine ever has to confront in herself, for while character flaws can be addressed and dealt with, no rational person expects lost looks to be recovered. It is hard not to resent Wentworth, with his self-satisfied rejection of Anne and determined acceptance of "something a little inferior", but because he acts out of deep hurt, and because he is Wentworth, we easily forgive him.

For we know how he suffered. Every word describing his anger reflects his desperation to make sense out of his pain, attribute blame to she whom he had to give up, and vent his spleen:

He had not forgiven Anne Elliot. She had used him ill; deserted and disappointed him; and worse, she had shewn a feebleness of character in doing so, which his own decided, confident temper could not endure. She had given him up to oblige others. It had been the effect of over-persuasion. It had been weakness and timidity.

Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth in 2007 film
The question underlying this novel lies in this conclusion. Was Anne wrong or right to yield to Lady Russell's objections to her engagement to Captain Wentworth? At this juncture, all we can judge by is our firm knowledge that the repercussions of her decision caused even more pain to Anne than to the Captain, making the answer appear decidedly "yes". The example of he Crofts, too, who are an extremely happy couple, despite having married without fortune, reinforces Wentworth's opinion that Anne acted foolishly. Anne herself agrees, has been persuaded she was wrong:

She did not blame Lady Russell, she did not blame herself for having been guided by her; but she felt that were any young person, in similar circumstances, to apply to her for counsel, they would never receive any of such certain immediate wretchedness, such uncertain future good. She was persuaded that under every disadvantage of disapprobation at home, and every anxiety attending his profession, all their probable fears, delays, and disappointments, she should yet have been a happier woman in maintaining the engagement, than she had been in the sacrifice of it...

But the wonderful thing about the art of persuasion is that its work is never done. Events and characters introduced later in the novel will repeatedly remind us how very precarious a sailor's fortune is, and Lady Russell was quite right about the likelihood of the then Lieutenant Wentworth attaining rank and fortune, especially had he been hampered with a family. Furthermore, if Lady Russell had failed to advise Anne on this matter, would she not have been a negligent guardian? In recent years, I have become more and more convinced that Anne acted precisely right in breaking off the engagement, but I did not always think so. I'm curious to hear other answers to this question.The biggest one I am left with is why did Captain Wentworth not return to Anne when his fortune was established? As she reflects:

Had he wished ever to see her again, he need not have waited till this time; he would have done what she could not but believe that in his place she should have done long ago, when events had been early giving him the independence which alone had been wanting.

Despite all my feelings against such a conclusion, I have to lay blame for the continuation of the suffering both hero and heroine endure, regardless of who initiated, on Captain Wentworth. His childlike indignation is unproductive, and as if she has not endured enough, when he finally does return to Kellynch he seems bent on punishing her with indifference. Were he not so thoroughly charming, I could almost hate him.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Austen in August: Persuasion Read Along

How glorious to have an excuse to read! I haven't started it yet, but in honor of Austen in August and my very favorite of dear Jane's novels, I have coerced my family into allowing me this indulgence. I will read Persuasion! How perfectly delightful! I'm exuberant (can't you tell?).

Misty has provided some very well thought out and tidy guidelines for this discussion (check them out here: Three posts will follow this, addressing in turn the beginning of the book (chapters 1-7), its middle (8-18), and the end (19 on). I doubt I'll be able to resist a further post on the rewritten chapters. All this is to be proceeded by some getting to know you questions, which I will respond to now:

1. Was Persuasion the first Austen book you read?
No. My first Austen novel was Northanger Abbey, but Persuasion is the only Austen I ever encountered in a classroom. That fact is only notable because, as a student of English literature, I was assigned Jane Eyre no less than four times, Middlemarch twice, The Awakening at least three times, and all judiciously dispersed amid regular doses of Virgina Woolf. Amidst all this clamor for the great ladies of literature, where was my sweet Jane? Enduring horrific negligence, an untenable situation which I trust is now being addressed.

2. Is this the first time you've read Persuasion?

Apparently not. I do not know how many times I have read it, but let's just say I am as familiar with the wording of the Baronetage as Sir Walter himself. Further, I have several editions of the book, and am struggling to decide between two which I shall use for the read along: my extremely well-loved Oxford World's Classics (1998), or the annotated edition by David M. Shapard, my review of which you can read here. I think the latter has an edge, if for no reason other than that the former's spine is threatening to give out.

3. How many other Austen books have you read? & 4. Will you read more of them/reread them?

I have read them all numerous times and cannot imagine why I would ever cease to do so. Those familiar with me and this blog are well-acquainted with my passion. One of the things I most look forward to in this read along is hearing from those who have not read Persuasion so many times. I have written here before about how sad it is to lose your first enthusiastic impression of a novel, even when each reread brings new pleasures. Perhaps this will help me recapture a sense of novelty.

Now I am off to start reading, possibly aloud to my child. It might be the only way to get this done.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Miss Woodhouse vs. Sir Thomas?

It is not infrequent that Austen's characters express seemingly opposing beliefs. Today I'd like to explore the question of when a man should marry.

Sir Thomas Bertram, Mansfield Park:

"I am an advocate for early marriages, where there are means in proportion, and would have every young man, with a sufficient income, settle as soon after four-and-twenty as he can."

Miss Emma Woodhouse, Emma:

"Only four-and-twenty. That is too young to settle ... [thirty] is as early as most men can afford to marry, who are not born to an independence." 

These sentiments might seem contradictory, but they are actually quite akin, as are the characters themselves. The difference in their notions is more a reflection of the listener each is attempting to influence than of some philosophical disagreement. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find two characters more alike in Austen than Sir Thomas and Miss Woodhouse, gender distinctions aside. Both are infinitely confident in their elevated social positions, both cling to the importance of upholding those distinctions that privilege themselves, and in a spirit of well-intentioned condescension, both manipulate their subordinates to no good end. This latter quality is what we see on display here. When striving to convince Fanny Price to accept Henry Crawford, Sir Thomas sees his age as being a strong factor in his favor, but when Emma wants to dissuade Harriet Smith from Robert Martin, she designates that same age as problematic. Granted, the key issue here is economics, and while Henry Crawford has "sufficient income", Robert Martin was not "born to an independence". Both Emma and Sir Thomas have strong grounds upon which to promote their arguments, but we must assume that they would be equally adroit in promoting the other perspective should it have suited their aims, especially as events prove both equally wrong.

I think Austen is trying to tell us that there is no one perfect age for a man to marry, and when we hear someone make vast generalizations on such subjects, we had best consider their motives before heeding their advice.    

This was fun.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Janeites Rejoice ...

... for we have a solid month and a half of celebrations before us. Two event will see us through these last hot weeks of summer, ringing in the invigorating, autumnal months ahead. First we have Austen in August, starting the 15th (next week!) and taking us through to the end of the month. Hosted by Misty, The Book Rat, this will be a celebration of all things Austen, complete with giveaways and guest posts, including one of each from yours truly, plus a read along! Be sure to vote on which novel we'll read before time runs out: For the past two years, I have been able to participate in Misty's Jane in June, of which Austen in August is the reincarnation, and I am always impressed by the frolicking atmosphere she creates in homage to dear Jane, who would certainly approve. Then fasten your seat belts ladies and gents, because September 1st bring us the Austenesque Extravganza, hosted by Meredith of Austenesque Reviews. I was astounded by this phenomenal happening when she held the first Extravaganza last year, and Meredith and her team seem posed to outdo themselves this time around. An entire month completely devoted to Austenesque is a miracle in and of itself, but when you see how much work these ladies have put into making their extravaganza fully extravagant, you will feel humbled by the astonishing depths of their achievement. I'm grateful to be able to do my little part to add to the party.

As observant followers may have noticed, I'm sort of beginning to rethink the purpose of this blog. When I first started it in the fall of '09, I intended it as a vehicle for marketing my book, but quickly I found myself using it to share my obsession for the emerging genre to which I was going to contribute, what I knew as Jane Austen Fan Fiction, or JAFF (thanks again to Meredith for providing a better title, for I believe it was she who first called it Austenesque). Book reviews became my main focus, I believe to the confusion of other writers and bloggers, who weren't quite sure what I was about. Perhaps that will now become clearer.

Though I intend to keep posting reviews, as I am able, the fact of the matter is I have no where near the time I once did to read. I cannot express strongly enough what agony this causes me, and for no one but my child would I make such a sacrifice. It is for her sake that I spend what spare time I now have writing rather than reading, for even if my work has little impact at large, it is a legacy for her, and I have a strong need to create something she can own. What better place to begin than right here?

In the coming weeks I am going to experiment with a few new notions and see what materializes. These upcoming Austen celebrations should provide a great deal of inspiration. I know I want to start playing with the Mashups again; now that we have a cast of characters, should we not see what we can make of them? Some might remember the post Austen in Walkingland, as might followers on Twitter: my contribution to last year's Extravaganza. I think this will be the premise for much fun with the Mashups. I hope you'll come back to check it out!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Profile: Colonel Brandon

"Colonel Brandon, the friend of Sir John, seemed no more adapted by resemblance of manner to be his friend, than Lady Middleton was to be his wife, or Mrs. Jennings to be Lady Middleton's mother. He was silent and grave. His appearance however was not unpleasing, in spite of his being in the opinion of Marianne and Margaret an absolute old bachelor, for he was on the wrong side of five and thirty; but though his face was not handsome, his countenance was sensible, and his address was particularly gentlemanlike."

Name: Colonel Brandon. Austen tells us no more. (For more information, check out this fabulous post on the subject:

Age: 35 when we first meet him. 36 before the novel ends.

Hobbies: Reading, music appreciation, hunting, and saving damsels in distress (though he sometimes too late).

Most Charming Quality: Steadfast devotion

Most Detrimental Tendency: The Colonel is terribly lacking in a sense of self-esteem, a thing his bride has in abundance. Life has taught him to value himself rather cheaply, but other than his self-deprecation, he is almost entirely lacking in those flaws that render other Austen heroes interesting.

Greatest Strength: He is a perfect combination of those two qualities for which the novel is named, and which its heroines individually embody. As Elinor notes, he is sensible, hut he is also provided with an abundance of sensibility.

Truest Friend: We must suppose it to be Sir John Middleton, as he is the only friend to the Colonel of which we know. Furthermore, we must suppose this to be a very unequal friendship, as far as intellectual companionship goes (credit is due to Andrew Davies for making something more substantial out of this relationship in his 2008 adaptation).

Worst Enemy: As his father and brother have died, we are left with Willoughby.

Prospects: Far better than he once expected. The passing of both father and older brother have left him in possession of Delaford, and following some five years of careful maintenance, he is presumed to have returned the estate to a condition in which it provides him with something like 2000 pounds a year, its value in its heyday. Of course, none of this provides the man with much personal satisfaction.

Favorite Quotations: "The cruelty, the impolitic cruelty,"--he replied, with great feeling,--"of dividing, or attempting to divide, two young people long attached to each other, is terrible.--Mrs. Ferrars does not know what she may be doing--what she may drive her son to."

"...where the mind is perhaps rather unwilling to be convinced, it will always find something to support its doubts..."

..."and yet there is something so amiable in the prejudices of a young mind, that one is sorry to see them give way to the reception of more general opinions."

"... though where so many hours have been spent in convincing myself that I am right, is there not some reason to fear I may be wrong?"

Musings: I have bee struck anew when writing this post at how little Colonel Brandon ever says for himself in the course of the novel. Outside of two or three longer speeches, in which he reveals his past and proves his goodness, he is virtually silent. This makes for easy portrayal of him in film as brooding and melancholic, but it renders my task here rather difficult. What Austen reveals about this hero is almost entirely secondhand - a very strange method for an author so meticulous in her character development. Granted, this is in keeping with her tendency to show character through action rather than relying on words alone, but the Colonel never comes to life in the manner of her other heroes. Rather than a distinct creation, he is almost a caricature of a romantic hero: hopelessly devoted to his love(s), the first to rescue those in distress, and the only Austen hero to ever even contemplate, let alone take part in, a duel. He is quite the knight in shinning armor, and perhaps the most interesting thing about him is that Marianne is so completely oblivious to his romantic potential, a classic example of the good guy being overshadowed by the bad boy. My strongest emotion in regards to Colonel Brandon is that of deep pity, for even after winning his lady love one must wonder if she will ever really comprehend him or be truly sympathetic to his plight. I fear marriage to Marianne will be just a new form of suffering for him to endure, and as I am loathe to write him of as a masochist, he has my heartfelt sympathy.