Mr Darcy's Reputation Condemned At Lit Fest Writer and podcaster Dolly Alderton delivered a controversial judgement on Jane's most famous romantic hero, Mr Darcy, at Cheltenham Literature Festival this Sunday. Alderton put forward her opinion that Darcy is a conceited, rude, humourless snob, who has had a dangerous effect on dating culture. She also said that Darcy was probably the first written example of 'negging'; a phrase which was coined by the American writer Neil Strauss, in his book The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pick-Up Artists. Negging, in case you (like I) didn't know, is the act of emotional manipulation whereby a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment, or flirtatious remark, to undermine someone's confidence and increase the need for approval. Alderton quoted as one piece of evidence of negging from Pride and Prejudice, the point where Darcy says (in her earshot) that Elizabeth Bennet "is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me."
When you Google Mr Darcy there are so many female apologists for his behaviour. So many say he is just shy. Women are so, so keen to preserve the romantic mysticism of Mr Darcy. The idea that a man is there to be cracked or is hard to get or something to be won I think is very, very damaging. It should not be that difficult. Elizabeth is the prize to be won.Alderton was taking part in a debate about which romantic hero from literature, Darcy or Heathcliff, was the worst. Hopefully Darcy fans will be able to take some comfort therefore in the fact that the audience agreed that Heathcliff, "a man who hanged dogs, beat up old women and imprisoned young women", was worst.
Lucy Worsley Comes To Visit The Jane Austen Centre was honoured to welcome historian, author and TV presenter Lucy Worsley this past Saturday. Lucy came to visit us on her way to her Bath Children's Literature Festival event at the Guildhall, in which she read extracts from, and answered questions about, her newest children's book Lady Mary - the story of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon's famous divorce through the eyes of their daughter. While at the Centre Lucy was kind enough to sign fifty copies of her amazing book about Jane Austen Jane Austen at Home! It was a pleasure for visitors and the Jane Austen Centre team to meet her, and the team hopes to see her again the next time she's in Bath. (Keep your eyes on the Jane Austen Online Giftshop website if you'd like a limited-edition signed copy of Lucy's book Jane Austen at Home)
The Unfinished Books
This week the Jane Austen News came across some intriguing research by journalist James O Malley.
Following the realisation that there are quite a few books which he has started but then not finished (but at the same time refuses to admit giving up on) he thought that, as he can't be the only person who does this, wouldn't it be interesting to find out which books people most often do this with?
He got to work analysing GoodReads data and, from his analysis pool of around 24,000 users, he produced a list of the top ten most commonly unfinished books and, to our surprise, Pride and Prejudice was on the list!
- A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) - George R.R. Martin
- Alexander Hamilton - Ron Chernow
- Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman
- The New Oxford American Dictionary - Erin McKean
- Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking - Susan Cain
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondo
- All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doer
- Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace
- 1984 - George Orwell
We can understand not finishing the dictionary, but we hope that those who started but didn't finished Pride and Prejudice give it another go. As we all know, it's well-worth reading!
A Course On Northanger Abbey Hillsdale College (a university) based in Michigan, has released their full Jane Austen online course. The college offers a total of twenty-one free, non-credit courses in their online archives. Online courses, produced by the External Affairs department, cover a wide range of topics, including history, literature, politics, economics, and theology. The new course, The Young Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey, presents the youthful themes of Austen’s first novel. Associate Professor of English Lorraine Murphy, who taught the course, finds that the charm and humor of Northanger Abbey lend it universal appeal. She designed the lectures to be equally engaging to those who have read the book and those who are unfamiliar with the work. Murphy said Hillsdale’s values are reflected in the novel’s emphasis on “the moral value of having a thoughtful, disciplined mind.” The online course can be found here.
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Re: Darcy’s comment
Fascinating. Although we align ourselves with Elizabeth, I’ve always thought Darcy’s comment was more about Bingley than Lizzie. Still reeling from his sister’s near disaster, he has come to Netherfield for space, not romance. At this point, Lizzie is not a ‘person of interest.’ Knowing that Bingley’s comprehension doesn’t extend beyond the physical, he uses this comment to disconnect himself from his friend’s current interest, a girl he finds uncommonly pretty.
This is not negging; this is a man who, without being a wet blanket, wants his friend to leave him alone.
Happily, that will soon change.
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