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Jane Austen News – Issue 161

The Jane Austen News from New York

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?


 Pemberley in New York

If you loved the scenes of Pemberley in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and wished that you could visit the location where it was filmed,  then you might be able to do the next best thing if you’re able to get to New York between June 28th and September 18th 2019.

David Korins, the set designer for the musical Hamilton is behind the new exhibition which is due to open at Sotheby’s in New York on June 28th. It sees the essence of Chatsworth house and estate (which was the filming location for the series Death Comes to Pemberley in 2013, and the exterior filming location for Pemberley for the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film) translated for the smaller space of the galleries of Sotheby’s.

The exhibition will feature 45 artworks, decorative objects, pieces of jewelry, clothing and archive materials — all drawn from the Devonshire Collection, accumulated over about 500 years by the Cavendish family, and held at Chatsworth House. However, Korins realized that he didn’t just want to make the artwork and objects part of the exhibition; he wanted to include the details of the house itself. In the form of blown-up 360-degree sculptures, Mr. Korins will magnify small details — table legs, moldings, chair feet, corners of rooms — and use them as vitrines and set pieces for the artworks and objects on display.

Chatsworth Exhibition Rendering

The Duke of Devonshire said he’s thrilled by Mr. Korins’s imaginative design for the exhibition. “I think he has a brilliant way of getting across a grand space in a smaller space,” he said. “I think the architecture of this exhibition will focus attention on the works, and we’ll look at them in a different sort of way.”

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Don’t Insult Your Children, Give Them Jane Austen by Allison Burr

Give Them Jane Austen by Allison Burr

Don’t Insult Your Children, Give Them Jane Austen by Allison Burr

My kids saw that scoundrel Willoughby at Chic-Fil-A last night.

Or so they thought.

Willoughby - a cad by Jane Austen

We had just finished our chicken sandwiches and waffle fries and were headed off to Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God concert, but all four kids stopped dead in their tracks when they saw the unsuspecting dark-haired, large-eyed teenage boy behind the counter. I could read their body language; if this was indeed Willoughby, as they frantically whispered in my ear, he would surely do something reprehensible at any moment.  And they weren’t going to miss it.

Much to their chagrin, we ushered them out the door, and the Willoughby look-a-like was left to finish his work without further danger of besiegement.

In their overactive 10-, 8-, 7-, and 3-year-old minds, they had seen a villain behind the counter. The details of this poor boy’s true identity are of no consequence. The more important reality is that Jane Austen had captured their hearts and imaginations, and my children have not yet entered adolescence.

This surely qualifies as a parental milestone.

Now, I know the purists contend that the consumption of the screen portrayal should never precede the consumption of the written. I don’t hold to that particular standard (but undoubtedly have my own purist standards in other areas). As such, when we began the several-hour long 2008 BBC version of Sense and Sensibility, my kids were immediately enthralled and the questions came with great rapidity.

With my finger perpetually on the pause button in order to field the inquiries, I responded to these (and more) from both my daughters and my son:

How could John Dashwood be so weak? And Fanny be so evil?

Why don’t Elinor and Edward marry each other?

Why exactly is Marianne so foolish?

What does Elinor mean when she says she doesn’t disapprove of Marianne, but only her conduct?

Why doesn’t Willoughby act like a gentleman?

Colonel Brandon is the hero; right? Why can’t Marianne see that?

Why is Lucy Steele engaged to Edward when Edward is clearly meant for Elinor and Lucy seems so sneaky and unkind?

How can Mrs. Ferrars be so utterly vicious and yet everyone is falling down to worship her?

Can we please, please, live in a cottage by the seaside and string up seashells in the garden?

Other than the last one (which breaks my heart to say probably not), I delighted in pausing the visually stunning jewel to help my young children frame the story, discern wisdom from folly, and mourn over the broken hearts of Colonel Brandon and Elinor.

The sumptuous period dress, the breathtaking landscape, the awe-inspiring country manors, and the rapid-fire colloquy amongst some of Austen’s most remarkable characters were exactly the type of feast my kids deserved. Not a culinary feast, mind you; but a literary, moral, and visual one.

Go-to books for a JaneiteWhy settle for one-dimensional twaddle that insults the Imago Dei status of your children, when you can bring them before the work of a master craftsman from another era?

No, my children did not understand every aspect of the witty repartee.  Nor could they grasp the magnitude of the moral and social norms under Miss Austen’s microscope.  But every morning, I read my children the Bible, and they also read it for themselves.  We require this in our family, even while knowing that they cannot possibly understand the depth of the riches contained therein.  But their current ages and developmental limitations should not preclude them from partaking in the banquet table in whatever ways they are able.

In the same way, when I first began reading Austen’s works 16 years ago, in a Brit Lit college course, I am quite certain I appreciated only a minuscule percentage of what Jane Austen was doing.  Two years later, I spent a semester researching and writing an honors thesis on the French Revolution’s impact on Austen’s body of work.  Clearly, I was smitten with her literature and desired to dig deeper.  And yet, every time I revisit Emma or Pride and Prejudice, I surely continue to miss nuances and connections, all these years later.  But I keep savoring the feast, both by book and by screen – and it is altogether better to do so alongside the inquiring, hungry minds of my children.

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Note: I recommend, without reservation, this series of 12 audio lectures by Professor Jerram Barrs of the Francis Schaeffer Institute on the life and works of Jane Austen.  The series is free for download, after a quick registration process, courtesy of Covenant Seminary.

Parental disclaimer:  Because my children are so young, I skipped the (brief) opening scene of the 2008 BBC version of Sense and Sensibility, and instead gave a brief synopsis to my children of an immoral man victimizing a young girl. 

 

*****

About the author Allison Burr:

Allison Burr resides in Franklin, TN, with her husband and four children. Allison Burr is primarily a homeschooling mama, but also an adjunct professor at New College Franklin, co-founder of Sword & Trowel, and resident domestic theologian at TruthBeautyGoodness.

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To Punish or Defend? The Regency Duel

A Regency Duel

Although one might need to read Georgette Heyer, rather than Jane Austen, to get a peek at a Regency duel, however, the activity is by no means ignored in Austen’s novels.

In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet voices her fears that her husband will fight Mr. Wickham, leaving her daughters to be turned out of their home by the Collins’. This may have been due to her over dramatic sense of self pity, but in fact, Sense and Sensibility’s Col Brandon and Mr. Willoughby do meet in an attempt to defend the (doubtable) honor of Eliza Williams.

“One meeting was unavoidable…I could meet [Willoughby] in no other way. Eliza had confessed to me, though most reluctantly, the name of her lover; and when he returned to town, which was within a fortnight after myself, we met by appointment, he to defend, I to punish his conduct. We returned unwounded, and the meeting, therefore, never got abroad.”

Colonel Brandon and Willoughby fight a duel in a 2008 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.
Colonel Brandon and Willoughby fight a duel in a 2008 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.

According to one definition, “A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two individuals, with matched weapons in accordance with agreed-upon rules.”

During the 17th and 18th centuries (and earlier), duels were mostly fought with swords (the rapier, later the smallsword, and finally the French foil), but beginning in the late 18th century and during the 19th century, duels were more commonly fought using pistols. Special sets of duelling pistols were crafted for the wealthiest of noblemen for this purpose.

The duel was based on a code of honour. Duels were fought not so much to kill the opponent as to gain “satisfaction”, that is, to restore one’s honour by demonstrating a willingness to risk one’s life for it, and as such the tradition of duelling was originally reserved for the male members of nobility; however, in the modern era it extended to those of the upper classes generally. From the early 17th century duels became illegal in the countries where they were practised. Continue reading To Punish or Defend? The Regency Duel

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