This is a writersliftwednesday blog, sharing the works of fellow writers, poets and persons random. All re-blogs will be linked appropriately to their authors.
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The words of poetry are
but a mask,
pages, screens, books being
assets of anonymity
to hide the brutish specimen
that brute knows
the pathos is played
charms only with vain airs
Wonders never cease
in this topsy-turvy tale,
even surprises arise
surprisingly of all,
she fell, even then,
sight and seen,
no words read
your face occupies the entire doorway
or has the room become suddenly small?
i feel like thwacking your smile with a death ray
or smacking it fervently into the wall!
your nasty moustache with its fried egg stains
those urticating bristles on caterpillar lips…
just one look has given me stomach pains
i’d soon as not kiss you as cut off my nips!
when you lean over me with your fresh garlic breath
i feel like a vampire that’s getting ready to die
so i wouldn’t mind overdosing on some meth
if it meant i could avoid you in sheol’s by and by
you whisper, ‘what can i ding dong diddly do?
for you?’ sounding suspiciously diddly ho sweet
and you adjust those glasses you’re peering through
making my flesh want to crawl away up the street
at the altar of the temple of ghastly dreams
i am ready to swear on the shiny shinning
anything to expunge all the flanderish screams
visions of red and yellow cartoon skinnings
Jane Austen, the writer of Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility (among others) is widely considered ignored in her lifetime–and a bit of a prude. As Devoney Looser explains in The Washington Post, these are just two of the persistent myths surrounding Austen. Let’s see what else most people get wrong about her!
Jane Austen was a secluded, boring homebody
The myth of her sheltered existence originated with her brother Henry’s short biographical notice, published as a preface to the first edition of “Northanger Abbey” and “Persuasion” (1818). Henry describes his late sister as having lived “not by any means a life of event.” Today, it has become a trope.
But things happened to her! For one thing, she had seven siblings. Her father ran a small boarding school for boys out of the family’s home. How quiet a girlhood could that have been? Then she lived for several years in the resort town of Bath, the Regency-era young person’s equivalent of Cancun. She visited London and frequented its rowdy theaters, where vendors sold audience members rotten fruit specifically for the purpose of hurling it at the actors (thus proving that the fun practice of pelting poor performers was still alive and well in the 19th century).
Her family had colorful characters. Her aunt was arrested, tried and acquitted of a shoplifting charge, creating a scandal. Her flirtatious cousin Eliza, whose first husband was guillotined in the French Revolution, afterward married Jane’s biographer-brother, Henry. He became a failed banker whose losses cost his relatives tens of thousands of pounds. He lost some of Jane’s money, too.
Austen’s was a prude
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children’s books
One of the first two published illustrations of Pride and Prejudice, from the Richard Bentley edition (Source: Wikimedia)
Henry Austen’s biographical notice claims that Jane was “fearful of giving offense to God.” Novelist Charlotte Brontë cemented Henry’s prim and proper vision, complaining in 1850 that “the Passions are perfectly unknown” to the late Austen. (It may be an unfair charge from an author who transforms attempted bigamists into heroes and makes lovers out of violent boors, but I digress.) That opinion persists to this day, with the Guardian speculating that Austen is a model of “sexless greatness” whose own chastity gave us her “wonderful novels.”
However, you’ll find plenty of illicit sex in Austen’s fiction, including seductions, adultery, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and prostitution. “Pride and Prejudice” includes a flirt who runs off with a rake who’s later bribed into marrying her. “Sense and Sensibility” describes a young woman who is seduced, abandoned and pregnant, and whose mother had been an abused wife, a kept mistress and then sunk deeper still. And obviously, any author who could create Mr. Darcy — who “drew the attention of the room” by his “fine, tall person” and “handsome features,” and who’s been interpreted as a tasty dish by almost a century of actors, from Colin Keith-Johnston to Colin Firth — must understand the power of sex appeal.
Austen approved of slavery and colonialism
Was Austen proslavery and an apologist for colonialism, as the cultural critic Edward Said famously argued? These claims often come down to what she leaves unsaid, as it does for Said, who argues that her characters’ pointed silences when colonialism comes up signal the author’s elitist neglect.
Austen certainly benefited from the cultural and economic privileges of her race and class. However, anti-slavery commentary appears in “Emma,” when elegant Jane Fairfax decries the dehumanizing slave trade and governess trade, comparing the sale of human flesh to that of human intellect. It’s also been argued that the title of “Mansfield Park” intentionally echoes the name of Lord Mansfield, the judge whose 1772 ruling said chattel slavery was unsupported by English common law (Britain outlawed the slave trade in 1807, though slavery in its colonies continued until 1833.)
Also, Austen’s brother Francis expressed abolitionist views. In 1807, he wrote in his journal, “Slavery however much it may be modified is still slavery, and it is much to be regretted that any trace of it should be found to exist in countries dependent on England, or colonized by her subjects.” The Austen family probably shared his opinion.