Jane Austen January

Portrait of Jane Austen in watercolor and pencil by Cassandra Austen (1773-1845), digitally restored and remastered by Amano1 Source: http://www.janeausten.co.uk/regencyworld/pdf/portrait.pdf via Wikimedia Commons

On Christmas Day in 1997, I received a collected volume of Jane Austen’s novels from my mother.  It is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.  I had read Pride and PrejudiceSense and Sensibility, and Mansfield Park several times, but this volume introduced me to the other books.  In January of 1998, I read all of the books, and in every January of the following years, I made it a tradition to read at least a few Jane Austen novels.  This coming January represents the fifteenth annual Jane Austen January, and I’m hoping to make it into a somewhat informal blog event.

This year, I plan to read Pride and PrejudicePersuasion, and Northanger Abbey, but I might add in Sense and Sensibility as well, depending on how much free time I have.  My goal is to write at least one blog post about each of the books and, I hope, to engage in discussions with other readers.  I’m totally open to discussing other Jane Austen works, but I probably won’t read more than these four books, so my comments will be limited to my last reading.  (It’s been a while since I read Mansfield Park and Emma…)

Every time I read these books, I discover something new about them, though whether that is due to my changing over the years, to the books’ being that nuanced, or just to my possessing a truly terrible memory, I’ll never know.

Is anyone game to join me in this fifteenth annual Jane Austen January?  Please let me know in the comments below.  (Lurking is also totally welcome.)  Discussions can take place on Twitter, if that’s convenient, and in the comments feature on this blog.  Check the side bar for my Twitter info.  Please also feel free to do your own thang with posts on your blog, if you have one.  I do this event every year, alone; this is my first attempt to bring other folk into the mix, so we’ll see how it goes.  🙂

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It’s a dangerous business, going out your front door…

Usually, when I start a project, I want to have a clear idea of what it’s going to be.  In the present case, I don’t, but perhaps that lack of a preset expectation on my part will enable something organic, something creative, to occur.  I need a project to focus my mental energies and take some of those energies away from the neurotic meanderings of my mind, but I am yet unsure what sort of project will accomplish this goal without feeding further neurosis.  I will have to see what develops and whether I have the stick-to-it-ive-ness, as my sister would say, to keep it going.

My initial notion of this blog is based on a quote that was displayed prominently above the chalkboard in my eighth grade language arts class.

 “Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” – Edmund Burke.

Until today, I never knew it was a quote–my recollections from that class, now eighteen years past, are not perfect–but Google does not lie.  Mrs. Thomas, the teacher, had created a banner using stencils and colorful construction paper, and the quote certainly had pride of place at the front of the room.  I have always remembered the quote as “Reading without analyzing is like eating without digesting.”  Perhaps my substitution of “analyzing” for “reflecting” is indicative of my rather more active manner of thinking about anything that crosses my path.  When “reflecting,” one can recline in a leather wing chair and, with eyes unfocused, saunter along clearly set out mental pathways.  “Analyzing,” by contrast, conjures a certain twitchiness, a mental tangle that needs to be worked out.  One does not analyze in repose.  Or, at least, I do not.

Like many neurotics, I tend to analyze everything, including everything I read.  The trouble I run into is that I generally do not have anyone to talk to about the things that I read.  I don’t know anyone who has taste like mine, who has read what I’ve read and would be willing to talk about it.  All that analysis without an outlet leads to a whole lot of crazy–thoughts that never get out of my head, context that no one else can understand because they’ve never heard it.  Enter this blog!