The Two Kinds of Jane Austen Fan
E.M. Dadlez, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Central Oklahoma, this week published an article which puts Jane Austen fans into two separate camps. One side is for Pride and Prejudice and Emma, while the other one emphatically embraces the Austen of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility. "One cannot love both, not equally, not without reservations about one or the other set of works, even if one likes and admires all of Austen’s writing."We were intrigued by this and read further.
The heroines of these novels are near opposites, but each novel provides the same clear, strong focus on issues involving autonomy and autonomous agency. They just do so from diametrically opposed perspectives.
Perhaps the kind of preference which Austen lovers are wont to note involves a preference for one or the other of the following: an interest in forging independence or an interest in respecting that of others, an interest in self-development and autonomous agency, or an interest in recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others. Emma and Persuasion are both stories of change and self-development and maturation, one chronicling a turning inward and self reflection, the next describing a turning outward and a venturing forth into the world.At the Jane Austen Centre, visitors do often say that they have a strong preference for either Emma or for Persuasion, but perhaps this might explain why. A highly interesting hypothesis either way. The full article can be accessed here.
The 1785 Dictionary of Vulgar Phrases You've heard of Samuel Johnson who compiled the famous dictionary of the English language and published it in 1755, but an almost forgotten compiler is Francois Grose, who in 1785 created an alternative dictionary called A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. His aim was to record the slang words and phrases of his day in order to faithfully represent the language of the day. This meant that he included a lot of language which Johnson didn't feel were worthy of inclusion in his dictionary.
Grose was one of the first lexicographers to collect slang words from all corners of society, not just from the professional underworld of pickpockets and bandits.This week we came across details of Grose's dictionary, and had a highly entertaining time reading some of the entries which he included. These included:
The British Library
- Bum fodder: toilet paper
- To cascade: to vomit
- Mutton-headed: stupid
- Double jugg: a man's bottom
- Fart catcher: a valet or footman
- Admiral of the narrow seas: "One who from drunkenness vomits into the lap of the person sitting opposite him"
- Cake: a foolish man
- To screw: to copulate
- Kettle drums: a woman's breasts
- Eternity box: a coffin
- Pissing pins and needles: to have gonorrhea
- Gambs: thin, ill-shaped legs
- Hoggish: rude and filthy
- Jack weight: a fat man
- Looking as if one could not help it: a simpleton
- Owl in an ivory bush: someone wearing a frizzy wig
French Farce Meets Jane Austen If you speak French, or are not averse to watching subtitled films, then you might like to look up the newly released The Return of the Hero. The film is a romantic comedy which has been described as a "frothy confection that sits somewhere between Jane Austen and a French bedroom farce".
After a handsome army captain jilts her sister, Elizabeth decides to try and soften the blow by writing extravagant and thrilling letters in his name, and then kills him off in the final letter. Aggravatingly for Elizabeth, Captain Neuville is far from dead, and on his return slips into the heroic role that she created.
No More Late Fees
At the Jane Austen News we think libraries are great, and we like to keep an eye on new library news. This week a story about libraries in a county in California caught our eye. Libraries in Contra Costa County in San Francisco are going to do away with late fees on overdue library books.
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors moved to eliminate overdue book fines at libraries in the county, effective from January 1, citing concerns about the area's high cost of living, and about the number of patrons who currently have their borrowing privileges suspended because of fines.Out of approximately 650,000 library users across the county, an estimated 18% currently have their cards "blocked," meaning they cannot be used to check out books or other materials, according to County Librarian Melinda Cervantes. That includes 21,000 youth cards belonging to children who are unable to check out library materials during what Cervantes described as a "critical period" in their lives. Added to this, around 43% of youth who have library accounts currently owe fees on those accounts. What do you think of the move? A good way to open up literature to everyone? Or are the libraries in danger of becoming "free bookstores"?
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We have a free library system in Tampa, Florida USA as well. The stipulation is that if 7 days after your item is due and not returned to the library, your account is now locked until you return the item, so no use of the computer, no checking out any items until account is unlocked. Even though I am usually ontime with returning (or renewing books), there are times when I am on holiday and forget so it is much appreciated. I can’t say I know whether this system is abused by many or not, but I certainly like it!