An immodest proposal

My reasons for marrying blogging are, first, that I don’t want to subject my real-world friends to my gushing about books all the time, and GoodReads just won’t cut it. Secondly, that every time I post on facebook about books, my friends’ interactions with that post add so much value to my reading life, and therefore I am convinced it will add very greatly to my happiness. And thirdly – which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that I am currently reading my last Jane Austen novel for the first time, and I want to record my thoughts for posterity.


Awkward Mr. Collins references aside, I am very excited to get back into The Blogging, since I’ve been reading some great stuff and would love to have a place to talk about it and hear from other readers/thinkers.


And yes – I am currently reading Lady Susan, Miss Austen’s posthumously published novel, in a volume that also includes The Watsons and Sanditon, two of her unfinished stories. I have read all of her other novels, so this is the last one, and it is the last time that I will read a Jane Austen novel for the first time (do you follow?). I am definitely enjoying it – as a major Austen fan, I have read her more famous novels at least a bajillion times each, and it is so refreshing to read language that I know as hers, but it’s new and unknown and unexpected. I don’t actually know how this story ends, which is so fun.


Lady Susan is completely different from Miss Austen’s other novels. To start with, it’s written entirely in letter form. This style was popular when she was writing it, but I don’t think it suits her. As a storyteller, Miss Austen wants to really get into the emotions and reactions and minute expressions of each character, but it sounds so forced in a letter. The observations and descriptions for which we love Miss Austen are much better suited to a novelist than to a regular human writing letters to another regular human. Another major difference is that the title character is morally corrupt. Miss Austen’s other novels regularly feature amoral characters (Wickham, the evil Mrs. Dashwood, etc.), but they are usually side characters, and frequently more like caricatures than real people. Lady Susan is a complex, complete, multifaceted character, and yet she is nowhere near the angel (or, if flawed, at least honest) heroines of the other novels.


More books on deck:


And now for some spoilers:




So I’m at the part where Frederica has come to Churchill, and so has Sir James (Gasp!) and Frederica is of course distraught, because he’s vile. Lady Susan is upset that Sir James has come, I think? But I’m not sure if that’s because she didn’t plan it, or because she doesn’t like him. The fact that she’s trying to pawn her daughter off to someone disgusting so that she can just get rid of them both makes Lady Susan stone cold. And of course, Frederica has written to her hero Reginald to come to her rescue. First of all – gasp! Writing to someone of the opposite sex to whom you aren’t related is a BIG EFFING DEAL. Second of all – she totally digs him, and this plea for help is gonna make him totally dig her, and you KNOW that Lady Susan will be sooooo maaaaad….


Stay tuned for more (gasp!) drama!! from the 18th century.




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