“I am half agony, half hope.” Jane Austen, Persuasion
I’m knitting my sock around stitch by stitch, knot by knot, minute knucklebone by knucklebone, and I’m thinking of Jane Austen. She plied her careful ironies one by one, a moral, steady, intelligent chronicling of the minutiae of Regency life. She, or course, would herself have been intimately involved with needlework.
Austen kept no diary. There are letters, though. A vicar’s daughter, raised with her brothers and sisters in rural Hampshire in the late 1700s (sister Cassandra destroyed many of Jane’s letters when she died), unmarried though the quintessential writer of “marriage novels.” She manages to remain a cipher to us now, though her books ring with the clearest truth.
The Royal Mail is coming out with stamps for each one of the novels.
It’s a good time to reread Pride and Prejudice, the book that broke Austen out of obscurity, January being the novel’s 200th anniversary. And perhaps to rediscover its lesser sung gem, Lydia, silly and brash.
Still fresh enough for a bumpersticker.
One response to “Happy Anniversary, Jane”
Shakespeare, Austen — the greatest ones are always ciphers…