Remember to use one of these before you leave!

    Answer Page for
  Have a question that's not answered here? Ask it via the Home Page.
Need help with an essay you've written? Look here

    Home Page     Jane's Life     Book Reviews     Contents Page     Links Page     Essay Help

<---More Recent 102. Who writes the answers? 101. "...Heart was irrevocably..." 100. How many books published and sold? 99. Who helped you publish? Earlier Answers-->

Name:Venessa Franklin
Question 103 It has been argued that Jane Austen's concerns are narrow and parochial, and that as a result her novels do not take part in the great debates of her time. What would you say? [Exchange relating to Qs 47 and 74] Could you please answer this question in relation to the novel Emma. The other answers were also helpful (thanks)
Reply Dear Venessa,

With reference to Emma the concerns are indeed deliberately parochial, specifically confined to the Surrey village of Highbury and the great estate of Donwell which dominates it and the not-quite-so-great estate of Hartfield where the young and motherless Emma holds court and tries to keep up the spirits of her depressed, valetudinarian father, old Mr Woodhouse, a trial for her if something of a comic turn for us. Emma was written just as the Napoleonic wars were coming to an end, and a sense of a world stage and international wars had receded. But Emma is examining society from top to not quite bottom (servants etc and the very poor are just offstage for the most part, though occasionally named [‘Patty’, ‘James’ etc.]). As a social discourse it seems to favour the old money dispensation and is suspicious of the incursions of those enriched by trade, even if characters are individuals differently inflected as to temperament and temper, whether we consider the Coles, the Westons, or the Eltons. But land ownership seems on the whole to bespeak stability and a sense of responsibility and concern, and snobbery and patronage or neglect of the poor or weaker members of village society are cardinal sins.

We are told that Emma herself was ‘very compassionate’, though she isn’t consistently so to people who irritate her through dimness, malevolence, challenges to her position or resistance to her charm. The latter seems to include Jane Fairfax, a highly trained and cultivated person who looks to have little money to support her natural claims to notice and support. Emma’s consciousness mediates the issues. Her insecure and aggressive attitudes are revealed and finally reproved with respect to her hurtful comments directed at old and poor Miss Bates on the occasion of the unhappy picnic at Box Hill, which was largely Mr Weston’s fault, incidentally, and that of Frank Churchill, whose Christian name seems eminently wrong for this young man of ploys and plots. The moral polarity of the book is provided by the caring landowner, Mr Knightley, whose force of personality and charitable disposition make the old dispensation and social arrangements seem ideal. The novel’s atmosphere almost of tittle-tattle and small concerns and irritations conceals an intense political drama and perhaps agenda. But it is important to realise that Emma is a novel, not just a discourse. Please develop your own ideas with reference to this scaffolding. If you find our material helpful please acknowledge us. This is of course something due to yourself also.

With best wishes,

Jane Austen.

March 14, 2006 00:50:45 (GMT Time)

Name:Joseph van Oss                     Top
Question 102 I am an instructor at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. One of my students cited your website as a resource used in writing a speech about Ms. Austen. I visited your site to verify her bibliography.
I am concerned that the author of all this information is nowhere accredited, nor even identified. Is there any special reason for this anonymity?
Reply Dear Joseph,

Clearly you are a conscientious academic teacher. In this case, as in others, if the work of others is cited, the citation should, I agree, be acknowledged, in this case with reference to the ‘site’, in what now seems a roughly agreed form in bibliographies. Otherwise such a citation will fall under the rubric of ‘plagiarism’ and attract the usual penalties.

I suppose it might be odd to announce that one ‘is’ Jane Austen’ and then lamely confess to being somebody else. The foundation idea is you are asking JA herself. Our site took original inspiration from a corporate endeavour with a fun ambiance and a mainly (secondary) school audience in a state of scholarly incipience about Jane Austen and many other things. With this in mind, I am sending you my name -as I will to whomever requests it -but stopping short of stating it here.

Not only am I not ‘JA’ when I answer the questions, I am not quite myself considered as ‘the scholarly practitioner who makes all-too-considered (?) pronouncements about my own themes and intellectual predilections’ in other contexts. Students can still acknowledge the sources of their ideas with reference to the site address itself. With good wishes.

Yours sincerely,

(Name supplied to questioner)

February 26, 2006 01:38:18 (GMT Time)

Name:Martha Duncan                     Top
Question 101 Could you verify that the following quote is from Jane Austen and also indicate the book or other work in which it was stated? I have been unable to verify this information thus far and would like to use the quote.
"The very first moment I beheld him my heart was irrevocably gone."
Reply Dear Martha,

The statement is made by Catherine Morland’s false friend, Isabella Thorpe, on Catherine’s discovery that she and her brother James are ‘in love’, in chapter fifteen of Northanger Abbey (1818). The statement is part of her repertoire of affectations, however, as she will later cast James off in favour of Frederick Tilney, the richer brother of Catherine’s friend, the poisedly ironic Henry Tilney. The story of this will emerge only in letters from the disappointed James and the now 'cast off' Isabella after Catherine was invited to the Northanger Abbey of the title. Isabella was composed of affectations, but I still felt a little sorry for her!

With best wishes.

Jane Austen.

January 21, 2006 00:09:05 (GMT Time)

Name:Lindsay Madeja                     Top
Question 100 I am writing a newspaper article about Pride and Predjudice and a recent novel by Elizabeth Aston entitled Mr. Darcy's Daughters. Could you please tell me how many of your books have been published and sold over the years and how many (if any) languages your books have been translated into? I appreciate your speedy response.
Reply Dear Lindsay,

I died early, aged 41 in 1817. I had completed six, if you like ‘major’ novels—Northanger Abbey, the most immature but published only after my death with Persuasion (the ‘other Bath novel’, as it were). First to be published was Sense and Sensibility (1811) when I had only six years to live, then Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815) and then Persuasion. I was already ill when that was completed, and I left an incomplete novel, Sanditon, and a fragment, The Watsons, written c. 1804 in Bath. Both were published later as people were eager to see anything I had written! So they also published even my early try-outs and juvenilia in due course. I have been translated into so many languages, but long after my death—certainly at least 30.

With best wishes.

Jane Austen

January 15, 2006 22:49:36 (GMT Time)

Name:Robert Wood                     Top
Question 99 I am curious to know how your (Jane Austen's) writings came to be published.  I read somewhere that your brother Edward saw to the publishing after your death.  Is this correct?
Reply Dear Robert,

I enjoyed good and friendly relations with all my brothers, including Edward, but the most practically helpful was irrepressible Henry, an officer class ‘militia’ man, an Oxford man, a banker and finally a bankrupt--then to the church he did repair, as to a refuge in time of trouble, with various incumbencies and I believe some writings of his own which show what a talented, interesting person he was. He helped me publish my first novel (to be published), Sense and Sensibility (1811), rather late in my short life when I had only six more years to live. Henry was also instrumental in getting Northanger Abbey and Persuasion published, in one volume, in 1818, after my final illness hastened me away in 1817. I was already ill when writing Persuasion. I lightly revised Northanger in 1816, but it still looks like the most immature of my mature novels, if you see what I mean. My family was supportive in general, but Edward, the most powerful, helped me, my mother and sister, to a house in Chawton, not a publisher in London, and that a bit reluctantly, it seemed. My father helped me but failed to get an early draft of Pride and Prejudice published (not his fault). I tried to get what became Northanger Abbey published c. 1803, but with no positive results. Henry helped set up a connection with the distinguished publisher John Murray also; sister Cassandra zealously guarded my posthumous ‘shrine’. Yes, Henry was the man. He has my eternal gratitude.

With best wishes,

Jane Austen.

November 29, 2005 02:21:03 (GMT Time)