Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jane!

Today is Jane Austen's birthday (born 1775--you do the math as to which anniversary this is...)

I enjoyed reading her published letters (mostly to her closest friend & older sister Cassandra; which more letters could have been saved!). Especially interesting to me were her "book reviews"; insightful comments on books she read. Would also have loved to browse her (family's) own personal home library.

Wonder if any of legion of Austen scholars/historians have been able to investigate what titles she and her family borrowed from lending libraries in Bath or wherever.

Her NORTHANGER ABBEY is a favorite of mine, in part because of description of un-heroic Catherine's childhood play (realistic & amusing!), and her love of reading (tho not of the "highest literary level" perhaps!

CASTLE OF UDOLPHO by (got to look up author)is actually much more than the sensational novel that many (who never read it) suppose dismisively. One modern edition--perhaps Oxford Classics-- includes critical essay pointing out how its heroine's applying logic, cool reasoning and scientic method (then-in vogue among upper classes with intellectual interests)helps her overcome superstition and emotional excesses, and likely helped inspire Austen's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.

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