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A Jane Austen letter

The Jane Austen's House Museum has initiated a fund-raising campaign to purchase a rare letter written by Jane Austen. Whether or not you want to contribute, take a look at the letter on their site.

Past Meeting
Gothic Novels - Be Very Afraid!
2019 May 25

Our May meeting this year was a novel study of Northanger Abbey. Amy discussed the genre of gothic novels that grew out of medieval belief in the supernatural. The gothic novel had a tendency to certain cliches - atmosphere, castles, dark corridors, etc. Amy discussed Ann Radcliffe and her use of terror, the stimulation of the senses, versus horror, the use of physical things such as corpses.
Very little is known of Ann Radcliffe as no correspondence or journal survives though she was certainly a successful author. She sold the manuscript for the Mysteries of Udolpho for 500 pounds which was a great sum for the time. It was interesting to compare Henry Tilney's reaction to the Mysteries of Udolpho with his 'hair standing on end the entire time' with a more modern impression of the book, which is that the book is long and rather wordy. We discussed the possible differences in culture that would allow for this. One of the theories was that people would not necessarily have travelled as much and would require extensive descriptions of locale to fully immerse themselves in the books. Amy also wondered if it was simply an expression of requirement of constant stimulation in our modern brains.

Northanger was very much a parody of the typical gothic novel of the time and we enjoyed discussing the various ways Jane Austen poked fun at the cliches present in those novels.

After tea we separated into groups to discuss the following questions.

  • Discuss the role of the mentor: Catherine has Eleanor and Henry, Isabella has none - what is the importance of this on Catherine's and Isabella's characters?

    It was generally agreed upon that Catherine was in a better state to be mentored because of age and situation and that even had she the opportunity, Isabella would likely not have benefitted from a positive mentor.

  • What is the purpose of the narrator in the novel?

    It was felt that the narrator was a key link to the audience, the narrator 'felt like Jane'. Thus, we got the best sense of what it may have been like to have had something explained by her personally.

  • How much are Catherine's ideas based on her reading? How does Jane Austen make use of other work, fiction and non-fiction in Northanger Abbey?

    This group felt that Catherine was very much formed by the works she read as she had been very sheltered by sheer physical situation. It was also proposed that books like the Mysteries of Udolpho would have been, in that time, what every one would have been talking about in social settings and would have played a large social role. Jane Austen used other works to frame her plot and establish the characters.

Thanks to Amy and Amber for a memorable conclusion to the first half of the year.

Happy summer everyone! We will see you in September.

New Books

  • Jane and the Damned: It's More than Her Wit That's Biting
    by Janey Mullany

    The "stakes" are high and vampires rule when legendary author Jane Austen joins the ranks of the undead in Janet Mullany's bloody wonderful literary mash-up.

  • The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen
    by Beth Pattillo

    Ellen and Mimi Dodge have never been close, but their mother's dying wish sends them on a walking tour of Hampshire, England, that follows in the footsteps of Jane Austen. Their mother also left them something else: a diary that belonged to Jane's sister Cassandra.

  • Jane Austen: A Brief Life
    by Fiona Stafford

    Newly updated, Jane Austen: A Brief Life offers a rich and sympathetic insight into a writer who was just as much the Romantic genius as Keats, Shelley or Byron – full of youthful exuberance, intensely creative once she had found her individual voice, and dead before she reached middle age.

  • Pride and Prejudice and Puzzles: Ingenious Riddles and Vexing Dilemmas Inspired by Jane Austen's Novels by Richard Galland
    by Richard Galland

    Permit yourself the indulgence of an interval of recreation and amusement to make your acquaintance with the riddles and conundrums contained within; for you are sure to receive no inconsiderable pleasure from the puzzling over and resolving of them. Your quest for an amiable distraction will be over, leaving your curiosity entirely satisfied.

  • The Three Colonels: Jane Austen's Fighting Men
    by Jack Caldwell

    Two of the three military heroes emerge straight from Jane Austen: Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam and Colonel Christopher Brandon. The third, Colonel Sir John Buford, has been conjured up from the author’s fertile imagination. One is married (Brandon); one gets married (Buford); one wants marriage (Fitzwilliam).
    Thanks to Jennifer for this donation.

Time for a Laugh!

Ellyn Cardon, a senior undergraduate at Brigham Young University, is the winner of this year's JASNA Young Filmmaker Contest for her entry, Mrs. Bennet's Plan. This short spoof is worthy of Jane Austen's juvenilia.

Regular Meetings

JasnaCalgary is a region of the Jane Austen Society of North America. We are all interested in everything Jane, from love of her novels to scholarly pursuits. Five times a year we meet to enjoy talks, workshops, teas, and galas. Attend a meeting and if you have fun, join in! Membership is $15.00 annually to cover our tea and cakes and other expenses.

Our meetings are 2:00 - 4:00, held at Sunalta Community Association, 1627 10 Ave SW, a location that is wheelchair accessible.
View map for meeting location

Only a few special events require pre-paid tickets, such as the annual Tea celebrating Jane Austen's birthday.

Site last updated on 2019 July 4

Link to Jane Austen letter
Memories of May 25 meeting
New Books on the Reading Page

Comments welcome

Or email jasnacalgary@jasnacalgary.ca JASNA Calgary