Jane Austen: Persuasion

The 2012 Buddy Read

This was a buddy read in the context of a private discussion group; I’ll therefore only include my own comments in full, and redacted / anonymized versions of the comments of others, to the extent relevant.  Quotes not italicized and not attributed to a participant of the buddy read are, unless specifically indicated otherwise, taken from the book under discussion, Jane Austen’s Persuasion.


#5 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

I don’t know how much I can contribute discussion-wise (have yet to finish Bruce’s adventures and am also going to be very busy work-wise in the near future), but I’ll at least try to provide a few visuals … and also the odd highlight from the book, which after all on my personal shelves is competing for “second favorite Jane Austen novel after the inevitable Pride and Prejudice” with Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park (yes, I know, don’t get me started on that one!). 🙂


#6 – B.

Earlier:

B – Where do you think Persuasion is? *laughs*

M – IN THAT LOT!!! *shakes head and smiles*

B – I don’t know where to start.

M – Tell you what, I’ll find an audio download. Sorted!

So that is what I now have, two different versions in audio. One is abridged dramatisation from the BBC with added piano and excellent cast, the other is unabridged straight read. If I happen across the book in the meantime – I’ll be sailing with knobs on! And don’t forget the film – my version is a clunky video cassette with Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds.


#9 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

B. wrote: “And don’t forget the film – my version is a clunky video cassette with Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds.”

I have that one, too, and the longer one included in the “BBC Jane Austen” set (I think it’s from the 1970s — not the 2008 version, in any event). I like both of those; the older one is longer and more faithful to the book when it comes to a number of details, but the Amanda Root version gets the essence of the book across very nicely and to great effect.


#13 – B.

S. wrote: “If we don’t have it in the British bookshelf (as compared to the American bookshelf), I’ll get it from Gutenburg.”

doh! I can be such a dimwit. Gutenberg online means I will be able to transpose quotes as I go.


#14 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Kellynch Hall

… as incarnated in the 1995 movie starring Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds (Barnsley Park, Gloucestershire) …

… as incarnated in the 1971 BBC mini-series (The Orangerie, Frampton Court, Frampton-on-Severn, Gloucestershire) …

… and as incarnated in the 2007 TV movie (Neston Park, Corsham, Wiltshire).


#15 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Anne and Captain Wentworth
in the 1995 version (Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds) …

  

… in the 1971 version (Ann Firbank and Bryan Marshall) …

 

… and in the 2007 version (Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones).

  


#16 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Sir Walter Elliot
1971 (Basil Dignam) – 1995 (Corin Redgrave) – 2007 (Anthony Head)

 

Lady Russell
1971 (Marian Spencer) – 1995 (Susan Fleetwood) – 2007 (Alice Krige)

(Further major characters and locations to be introduced as they appear in the novel!)


#18 – H.

I see an “inflation” of grandeur! I think I like the earlier location the best.


#19 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

I can’t say I particularly care for the 2007 location, either. There also seems to be an inflation of youth in the actors chosen for that adaptation …


#27 – W.

And so, I do not care for Sir Elliot. But, I believe he is a character for whom I am not supposed to care.


#28 – B.

W. I’ll be with you next week so keep reading and posting your thoughts – once the peepers are unsheathed I will burn through them there pages.


#29 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

W. wrote: “And so, I do not care for Sir Elliot. But, I believe he is a character for whom I am not supposed to care.”

He can be great fun if you don’t take him seriously (which you manifestly aren’t supposed to do). I watched the 1971 BBC production again last night in honor of this discussion — will also be revisiting the Amanda Root movie tonight — and it occurred to me how tempting it must be for an actor to just “ham” the role. He is such a ridiculous character … but the ridicule comes out to greatest effect if you strictly stick to “less is more.”

Also, it strikes me that Austen is uncharacteristically direct in labelling him as “vain,” “conceited,” and “silly” even in the opening paragraphs … leagues from her usual delicate touch! — I like this bit, though, about his deceased wife:

“Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable; whose judgement and conduct, if they might be pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot, had never required indulgence afterwards.”

— Heeh. 🙂


#30 – B.

Great work with the piccie posting T.A – you have found some corkers.


#36 – W.

Okay. . . I am feeling very impatient with Anne’s behavior. She is a bit of a stick and I just want to shake her. I am just starting Chapter 9.

I am not thinking much of Ms Austen nor her skewering of social manners either. I am not finding any humor. I know this is to be a book about second chances and how we should not allow ourselves to be persuaded by others; but, honestly, when I put this book down at night, I do not think about the characters (something which is unusual for me).

I want to appreciate Ms Austen, but I feel like the odd woman out because I do not right now.


#37 – B.

W. wrote: I want to appreciate Ms Austen, but I feel like the odd woman out because I do not right now.

Oh dear, this does not look good for your happiness. Sir Walter has to be looked at through a comic eye – he is preposterous in much the same way some (a lot) of Dicken’s characters are. There really were many affected behaviours walking around on two legs at that time – possibly the worst time for it – not far enough away yet, from those barbarous times.

*raises, with a flamboyant flourish, a huge lace-edged, initialed in red, handkerchief to pat lips in a show of disgust for the peoples of the past*


#38 – B.

There – TA has said the same (sorry I started reading entries here from the bottom up – you just can’t trust me!)

He can be great fun if you don’t take him seriously (which you manifestly aren’t supposed to do)


#43 – S.

Started last night, and enjoying it.


#44 – W.

Chap. 12. Reading is much more enjoyable now. I believe my trouble was with Elizabeth and with Mr. Elliot. I just do not have patience for either of them.


#45 – B.

W. wrote: “Chap. 12. Reading is much more enjoyable now. I believe my trouble was with Elizabeth and with Mr. Elliot. I just do not have patience for either of them.”

My liking for this is the absurd characters and the wonderful heart-warming ending, but that is in our future.

You are right though W. – you are not to know that these people are ridiculous, so of course they irk until you can find it within yourself to smile at the ludicrosities that erupt.


#46 – B.

p.2 duodecimo –
1) A size of book page that results from the folding of each printed sheet into 12 leaves (24 pages).
2) A book of this size.

“Principal seat, Kellynch Hall, in the county of Somerset,”

p.5 – Every emendation of Anne’s had been on the side of honesty against importance.

p.11 – Mrs Clay: “We are not all born to be handsome. The sea is no beautifier, certainly; sailors do grow old betimes; I have observed it; they soon lose the look of youth. “

p.12 – A lady, without a family, was the very best preserver of furniture in the world.

p.13 – “Wentworth? Oh! ay,–Mr Wentworth, the curate of Monkford. You misled me by the term gentleman. I thought you were speaking of some man of property: Mr Wentworth was nobody.”

p.17 – The Crofts were to have possession at Michaelmas; and as Sir Walter proposed removing to Bath in the course of the preceding month

p.18 – “Then I am sure Anne had better stay, for nobody will want her in Bath.”

p.24 – As to the management of their children, his theory was much better than his wife’s, and his practice not so bad. “I could manage them very well, if it were not for Mary’s interference,” was what Anne often heard him say, and had a good deal of faith in; but when listening in turn to Mary’s reproach of “Charles spoils the children so that I cannot get them into any order,” she never had the smallest temptation to say, “Very true.”

p.28 – Mrs Croft: “It was you, and not your sister, I find, that my brother had the pleasure of being acquainted with, when he was in this country.”

p.34 – “So altered that he should not have known her again!”

p.35 – She had given him up to oblige others. It had been the effect of over-persuasion. It had been weakness and timidity.

p.37 – Cpt Wentworth: “I was as well satisfied with my appointment as you can desire. It was a great object with me at that time to be at sea; a very great object, I wanted to be doing something.”

Love this on p.39:

They were actually on the same sofa, for Mrs Musgrove had most readily made room for him; they were divided only by Mrs Musgrove. It was no insignificant barrier, indeed. Mrs Musgrove was of a comfortable, substantial size, infinitely more fitted by nature to express good cheer and good humour, than tenderness and sentiment; and while the agitations of Anne’s slender form, and pensive face, may be considered as very completely screened, Captain Wentworth should be allowed some credit for the self-command with which he attended to her large fat sighings over the destiny of a son, whom alive nobody had cared for.

p. 43. We are introduced to a character called Charles Hayter and it being such a unique surname that I wonder if this is the base for Peter Smalley’s naval protagonist First Lieutenant James Hayter.

p.51 – “This nut,” he continued, with playful solemnity, “while so many of his brethren have fallen and been trodden under foot, is still in possession of all the happiness that a hazel nut can be supposed capable of.”

p.53 – “If it were war now, he would have settled it long ago. We sailors, Miss Elliot, cannot afford to make long courtships in time of war. How many days was it, my dear, between the first time of my seeing you and our sitting down together in our lodgings at North Yarmouth?”

p.55 Captain Harville’s being settled with his family at Lyme for the winter [a]nd to Lyme they were to go–Charles, Mary, Anne, Henrietta, Louisa, and Captain Wentworth.


#48 – W.

You see that bit on Page 18? That’s when I lost what little respect I had for Elizabeth and Sir Walter. Anne is better off with Mary and the children.

And what transpires between Mary and Charles regarding the children – how true. Poor Anne to be the ear for those “secrets.”.

I wish she would just tell CPT Wentworth she still loves him.


#49 – B.

W. wrote: “You see that bit on Page 18? That’s when I lost what little respect I had for Elizabeth and Sir Walter. Anne is better off with Mary and the children.

And what transpires between Mary and Char…”

Anne is very annoying – such a doormat but then she is rather over a barrel isn’t she. Horrible situation.


#50 – B.

The steps leading beach to cob at Lyme Regis are known as ‘Granny’s Teeth’


#51 – B.

Gutenberg inaccuracies sometimes amuse me inordinately:

p. 61 – “No, ma’am, he did not mention no particular family; but he said his master was a very rich gentleman, and would be a baronight some day.”

Does anyone else remember the Baron Knights


#52 – B.

p.58 Anne found herself by this time growing so much more hardened to being in Captain Wentworth’s company than she had at first imagined could ever be, that the sitting down to the same table with him now, and the interchange of the common civilities attending on it (they never got beyond), was become a mere nothing.

p.67 Mrs Charles Musgrove will, of course, wish to get back to her children; but if Anne will stay, no one so proper, so capable as
Anne.”

p.73 One man’s ways may be as good as another’s, but we all like our own best.

p.81 They could not listen to her description of him. They were describing him themselves; Sir Walter especially.

p.84 “less thin in her person, in her cheeks; her skin, her complexion, greatly improved; clearer, fresher.”

Regency skin care lotions; Gowland Lotion:

During the Regency the Gowland’s Lotion may have been the most famous of them all. Prepared by Macdonald, Humbert, & co. in Longacre, it was priced at 6s. the Quart. e Said to cure everything from pimples to scrophula, this lotion was a must have for the fashionable lady of the era. It was not for everyday use but to combat sudden eruptions of the skin, sunburn etc. In Modern domestic medicine f Thomas John Graham commented “These red, stationary pimples in the face, form a complaint called by professional men gutta rosea, and are often a source of much disgust to the female part of society. Gowland’s lotion is a favourite remedy for their removal; but, as it is a solution of corrosive sublimate, it is by no means safe.”

The Medical lexicon g gives the following information on the recipe:

“Lotion, Gowland’s. An empirical preparation (Bitter almond, sugar, distilled water. Grind together, strain and add corrosive sublimate, previously ground with spiritus vini rectified.) Used on obstinate eruptions.” and The Modern Practice of Physic h further explains the formula as “A remedy much employed by women who are troubled with eruptions in the face is Gowland’s lotion, the basis of which is the oxymuriate of mercury or superacetate of lead; but it is a hazardous application when continued for any length of time.” It was obviously best suited to oily skin, although the addition of mercury and/or lead would indeed make it unsafe!

http://hibiscus-sinensis.com/regency/…


#53 – B.

All this talk of rank and status and money becomes quite wearisome doesn’t it and it is for this very reason I cannot stomach more than one Heyer a year either. Elizabeth and Mrs Clay in particular are the personification of their very own snap-clasp handbags, nothing of intellectual worth in there that hasn’t been donated by another.

On the other hand though we have Mrs Smith:

As soon as I could use my hands she taught me to knit, which has been a great amusement; and she put me in the way of making these little thread-cases, pin-cushions and card-racks, which you always find me so busy about, and which supply me with the means of doing a little good to one or two very poor families in this neighbourhood.

p.96 “I suspect,” said Sir Walter coolly, “that Admiral Croft will be best known in Bath as the renter of Kellynch Hall.”

p.97 He would gain cheerfulness, and she would learn to be an enthusiast for Scott and Lord Byron; nay, that was probably learnt already; of course they had fallen in love over poetry.

p.98 She has a blister on one of her heels, as large as a three-shilling piece.

Will be starting chapter 19 tomorrow.


#54 – W.

B. wrote: “Gutenberg inaccuracies sometimes amuse me inordinately :

p. 61 – “No, ma’am, he did not mention no particular family; but he said his master was a very rich gentleman, and would be a baronight som…”

I laughed out loud at “baronight.”


#55 – S.

So did I!


#56 – W.

B. wrote: “W. wrote: “You see that bit on Page 18? That’s when I lost what little respect I had for Elizabeth and Sir Walter. Anne is better off with Mary and the children.

And what transpires between…”

Anne reminds me of Dorothea from Middlemarch – both wearing the “hair shirt” a bit overmuch.


#57 – W.

I enjoyed reading about the Crofts’ removal of “some” of Sir Elliot’s looking glasses. Sir Elliot gives new meaning to “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”


#58 – B.

W. wrote: “I enjoyed reading about the Crofts’ removal of “some” of Sir Elliot’s looking glasses. Sir Elliot gives new meaning to “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.””

I think it was Misfit who first introduced me to TSTL – too stupid to live.

But hang in there – those who laugh last laugh loudest and Anne will have her day.

And there’s you dropping the Rolling Stones in – excellent – and I will do the same to portray Anne at this moment in the proceedings:

You can’t always get what you want but you could try sometimes you might find you get what you need

That’s the nub, isn’t it, she is so passive that she doesn’t even try.


#59 – W.

Great way to start the work-day. Thank you.


#62 – B.

I saw a funny term today:

Austenazis, as referring to those rabid fans of Austen. And there is a very strong metal called austenite. Who knew.


#64 – B.

S. wrote: “I read a lot of Heyers about 25 years ago, while nursing my grandparents. Great to turn your mind off. (And their tiny local library had a ton of them.)”

Then they will be bitter-sweet memory inducers for you xx No doubt I will plop one on the summer reading shelf which I am trying to organise right now as I have such a full real-life agenda for the season. Have been listening to the librivox recording of Persuasion and I am ah but an hour or so left until I am done and dusted.


#66 – W.

Chapter 21 tonight.


#67 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Help!! There I leave you happily sipping prosecco and nibbling BBQ, salads and cheese while I’m off to spending a few dreary days in a large conference room, and when I come back you (and Anne, and Wentworth) have already been to Lyme and back and have arrived in Bath!

Will be back duly with illustrations after lunch …


#69 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Oops, sorry, so it’s “after lunch” only by an extended, transatlantic definition … anyway, a few quick snaps location-wise; will follow up with more posts later. These are from a 2009 trip to Southern England that included both Lyme Regis and Bath:


#70 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Lyme Regis:

 

Lyme Regis, the Cobb (and can’t you just see Meryl Streep a/k/a Sarah Woodruff (John Fowles’s French Lieutenant’s Woman) standing there as well?

 


#71 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Jane Austen Centre, Bath:


#78 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Bath: The Assembly Rooms

 

  


#80 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Bath: The Circus and Royal Cresecent

 

 


#82 – W.

Oh, thank you so much TA for sharing your Lyme Regis and Bath with us. The photos help me to visualize the locale – beautiful. Perhaps when I retire in my old age, I will retire to Lyme.

As for that conference room. . . yuck! I do hope all is hashed out quickly!


#83 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

W. wrote: “Oh, thank you so much TA for sharing your Lyme Regis and Bath with us. The photos help me to visualize the locale – beautiful. Perhaps when I retire in my old age, I will retire to Lyme.

As for that conference room . . . yuck! I do hope all is hashed out quickly!”

It’s being hashed out ever since 2004-05 … 🙁 … and in the context forming the background of this week’s doings, since 2007. Will likely be going on for another year or so, too. (Sigh.)

Agree with you on Lyme, though! It really is a charming place — I’d have loved to be able to spend more time there when we visited in 2009.


#84 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

That all said, back to Persuasion and Bath:

Anne and her family take lodgings in Camden Place, which is on Royal Crescent — as pictured above. (Here’s a period view:)

In real life, Camden Place would have been a cut or two above what Jane Austen‘s family would have been able to afford. During their first years in Bath they did, however, live quite comfortably, in Sydney Place and Gay Street, respectively:

 

… and they had also been looking at lodgings in Great Pulteney Street, where Austen ultimately has Catherine Morland staying in Northanger Abbey:

However, after Jane’s father died, her mother could no longer afford their lodgings in Gay Street. They then had to remove to Westgate Buildings, and their own coming down in the world is mirrored in the situation of Anne’s friend Mrs. Smith, who is not only gentility in dire straits in that, though formerly a classmate of Anne’s at an [undoubtedly] upper class girls’ school, she married a tradesman with an undistinguished last name and is now suffering the consequences of (1) widowhood and (2) her husband’s economic failure; moreover, her loss of status is also expressed in her having to take lodgings in an undesirable building in an unfashionable part of town — Westgate Buildings:

 


#85 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

B. — thanks for finding that bit on Gowland’s Lotion; I had been wondering whether Austen was using the name of a real product or had just invented something … sounds like just the thing for Sir Walter, doesn’t it? 🙂


#86 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Images from the already-mentioned movie/TV adaptations:

Elizabeth Elliot and Mrs. Clay:
1995 (Phoebe Nicholls and Felicity Dean)

1971 (Valerie Gearon and Charlotte Mitchell)

 

2007 (Julia Davis and Mary Stockley)

 


#87 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Mr. Elliot, the heir presumtpive:
1971 (David Savile) – 1995 (Samuel West) – 2007 (Tobias Menzies)


#88 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Charles and Mary Musgrove (née Elliot):
1995 (Simon Russell Beale and Sophie Thompson)

 

1971 (Rowland Davies and Morag Hood)

 

2007 (Sam Hazeldine and Amanda Hale)


#89 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Admiral and Mrs. Croft:
1995 (John Woodvine and Fiona Shaw)

1971 (Richard Vernon and Georgine Anderson)

2007 (Peter Wight and Marion Bailey)


#90 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove (Sr.) and their daughters Henrietta and Louisa:
1995 (Roger Hammond, Judy Cornwell, Victoria Hamilton and Emma Roberts)

   

1971 (William Kendall, Noel Dyson, Mel Martin and Zhivila Roche)

 

2007 (Nicholas Farrell, Stella Gonet, Rosamund Stephen and Jennifer Higham)


#91 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

Captains Harville and Benwick, and Mrs. Harville:
1995 (Robert Glenister, Richard McCabe and Sally George)

  

1971 (Michael Culver, Paul Chapman and Helen Ryan)

 

2007 (Joseph Mawle and Finlay Robertson — I think Mrs. Harville was skipped in that adaptation)

 


#92 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

… and finally, Anne’s down-at-heel friend Mrs. Smith:

1971 (Polly Murch) – 1995 (Helen Schlesinger) – 2007 (Maisie Dimbleby)


#93 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)

B. wrote: “My liking for this is the absurd characters and the wonderful heart-warming ending, but that is in our future.

You are right though W. – you are not to know that these people are ridiculous, so of course they irk until you can find it within yourself to smile at the ludicrosities that erupt.”

Amen, B. — W., I do hope looking back on the book you’ll come to share that view!

Of course, it IS easier for us as readers/bystanders to find the likes of Sir Walter, Elizabeth, Mary and Mrs. Clay ridiculous. I’m sure in Anne’s place I would have found them a major pain in the … (and refraining from telling them so to their faces just about every other minute would have required a major and practically constant gnashing of teeth).

 

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