We love old books here at the Jane Austen News, but this week we came across an example of a highly unusual one up for auction that might have raised a few eyebrows in the Austen household.
A 300-year-old sex manual which was as good as banned until the 1960s because of its shocking content (though we hasten to add that by today’s standards it’s not nearly so shocking) has sold for £3,100. An astounding sum considering that its guide price was just £80-£120!
The 1720 book titled Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed In Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation – contains a range of bizarre advice.
Some of the strange pieces of advice within the manual include:
- Don’t lie with beasts – lest you wish to run the risk of giving birth to monsters
- During sex women should “earnestly look upon the man and fix her mind upon him”. Then the child will resemble its father.
- Want a girl? After sex, a prospective mother should lie on her left. For a boy, she should lie on her right.
- Don’t rush off – “When they have done what nature can require, a man must have a care he does not part too soon from the embraces of his wife”.
Auctioneer Jim Spencer said of the book: “It’s gone crazy. The impact of the sale of this book has been phenomenal. I started receiving emails every few minutes from people interested in buying the book.”
The new (anonymous) owner said: “I wanted to buy this book because it’s about pre-modern medicine and it’s European. It’s about herbalism and the natural world mixed with medicine. It’s also a piece of art featuring woodcut illustrations.”
Well we’d hope that the owner hadn’t bought it for its dubious tips on how to ensure that you have a boy or a girl.
The role-playing group Regency Encounters, a group which is dedicated to providing the ultimate experience in role playing experiences for Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons, and Jane Austen fans (though not all in the same role-playing experience event!) are in the midst of creating a kickstarter campaign.
The hope is that the group will, with the help of Austen fans around the world, raise the money needed to buy Luckington Court, which was the location used for Longbourn in the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. It’s had a few interested parties looking at the multi-million dollar home, one of which was Prince Harry! Currently neither he, not any of the other viewers, have had an offer accepted though, so it’s still on the market and there’s still time for the Regency Encounters campaign to raise funds.
The campaign is set to begin by May, or June at the latest, and the Regency Encounters group hope to buy the property and restore it. After this they hope to invite Austenites to Luckington Court for rewards stays. Kickstarter pledges will, depending on the amount, feature an overnight stay, or tea in the drawing room.
We may not have a new Austen adaptation coming up very soon (though we’re very much looking forward to the new Pride and Prejudice adaptation due to be screened in 2020 on ITV), but period drama fans in the US and Canada have a treat due in cinemas on May 11th.
Anton Chekhov’s famous play The Seagull has been turned into an excellent feature film by director Michael Mayer and playwright Stephen Karam, and judging from the trailer will be a wonderful watch.
The Seagull follows an aging actress named Irina Arkadina, who visits her brother, Pjotr, and son, Konstantin, on a secluded country estate. As temperatures (and passions) rise with the rise of summer, Irina disrupts the calm social scene by introducing a successful novelist, Boris, to Nina, a free-spirited young woman from a neighboring estate. Nina ultimately falls in love with Boris, which causes a stir among her peers — namely Irina’s son, whose affections for Nina come to a head as Boris seemingly chews up her heart and spits it out.
Sadly there’s no news yet on a UK release date. And while we’d prefer an Austen, we still have our fingers crossed that we don’t have to wait too long until the film of The Seagull comes to the UK!
Austen fans in Avon, Connecticut might like to know about the upcoming “Shades of Jane Austen” event.
The library’s free Shades of Jane Austen series continues this Saturday (April 7th) from 2pm – 4.30pm at Avon Free Public Library, this time with a presentation of “Fashion in Fiction: Jane Austen’s Regency Novels” by fashion historian Kandie Carle.
Wearing authentic Regency attire, Carle will provide a detailed overview of the clothing of the Regency Era (early 1800s) for both gentlemen and ladies. Then Ms. Carle will share excerpts from Austen’s personal letters as well as passages from some of the novels, highlighting Austen’s use of clothing and fashion to define character and class, enhance story line, and develop plot points.
More information on the library’s website here.
We found this wonderful good-news story this week, and all of us here at the Jane Austen News thought that it was such a marvelous example of how books bring joy to people, and help to create bonds between families and within communities, that we had to share it with you.
In Afghanistan, providing libraries isn’t high on the list of government priorities: fighting the Taliban has to take precedence. However, in western Kabul, a big blue bus run by volunteers is bringing joy to some of the capital’s younger generation.
The bus is called the Charmaghz, a name which means walnut in Dari (one of Afghanistan’s national languages) and it has special resonance as it represents the brain in local culture.
“It equates to logic. We are trying to promote critical thinking. We want the kids to have opinions and share them, debate and be willing to listen to others’ opinions.” Ms Freshta Karim, founder of the bus, explains.
As well as the skills of listening, debating and critical thinking, another thing the Charmaghz is trying to promote in its own small way is literacy. It’s a big problem in Afghanistan. The United Nations says only 31 per cent of Afghans are literate. An estimated 3.5 million Afghan children have never gone to school and 75 per cent of these children are girls.
With this in mind, the bus not only stocks over 500 books, in Dari, Pashto and English, but it also has volunteers who travel with it to help teach reading and to read stories to the children who come to visit it on its travels.
Apart from reading, we also have board games like chess; we also have poetry recitations and we play them songs about our country and culture.
What a fantastic idea!
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