Jun 10, 2010

In which the Author meets her Alter Ego

Reading, you see, in those days was viewed as Virtuous use of Time and prized highly as more than a leisure activity. Reading in fact was a display, perhaps the Paramount display of Moral Fibre. Confined as we were to dull provincial precincts yet to be broadened by such miracles of modernity as The Internet, active and vigorous husbandry of the very fertility of our minds and imaginations required diligence measured in the count of turned pages and books returned to The Public Library. I happily tendered the required Diligence in anticipation of a Bounteous Harvest of thought later in life.

Alas, the Canonical Authors whose words I Pursued and Perused tended to be very Pale, very Male and on the whole, quite Dead. One does not mean to suggest that Paleness, Maleness and a condition of Eternal Repose or Unrest are, in and of themselves, evil or unsuitable things, but taken together in large helpings they do not constitute a Well Balanced Literary Diet.

Feminine Authorial voices were entirely absent from my book-bound peregrinations. Not intentionally of course; more simply as a natural course of the Times and of my evidently Masculine husk. One such unheard and unheeded voice belonged to the esteemed well remembered Jane Austen. I am familiar with her work only through glancing and half-hearted attention to Dramatizations of Her various Novels mounted for The Cinema and for audiences of Television. Her written Work however has somehow eluded my possession.

My Acquaintance with Ms. Austen was improved of late though after stumbling upon an Interesting Facility hosted at The Web Site known as Strange Girl. Nested within these passionate and informative pages is a Quiz that curious Readers are invited to take which identifies the Austen Heroine that they most closely resemble.

One might think that a person such as myself who having recently applied for yet another Extension of filing of various Tax papers and whose Garden is in a State of Overgrown Stupor might find more productive uses of Time. The merits of this argument are sound of course, but One is quite naturally prey to Idleness from time to time, and perhaps these fallow accidents of Ease and Sloth accrue benefits more subtle and less easy to measure in the here and now.

In taking the Quiz I am pleased to report that I am held to have much in common with Elizabeth Bennet, the Plucky and Proud protagonist of Pride & Prejudice. She is described briefly by Strange Girl here:

You are Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice! You are intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive. You have a good head on your shoulders, and oftentimes find yourself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of ridiculousness. You take great pleasure in many things. You are proficient in nearly all of them, though you will never own it. Lest you seem too perfect, you have a tendency toward prejudgement that serves you very ill indeed.

There seems to me to much to admire about Miss Bennet. I must confess to Affection for this quirky firebrand.

Many better informed Thinkers than I rate Pride & Prejudice as Miss Austen’s Signature Achievement, and Miss Bennet as a favorite character. Her enduring appeal is evidenced by countless tributes in Recent History, in Contemporary Times and even surprisingly in our Imagined Future. Jennifer Ehle (BBC, 1995), Virna Lisi (Italian Television adaption, 1957), and the ravishing Amy Wong (Voice characterization of Lauren Tom, 2001) of Futurama fame are illustrated here, each having paid Theatrical Tribute to Miss Bennet. Many Creative Liberties were taken by Ms. Wong in Matt Groening’s animated imaginings, known by it’s episodic name, The Day the Earth Stood Stupid, but it must be noted that she remained Very True to the boundlessly hopeful Spirit of our Heroine. One hopes, ardently that she, like the original Elizabeth finds her own Mr. D’Arcy somewhere in The Heavens.

I feel, quite strongly a kinship for Ms. Bennet when I see her thoughts quoted thusly:

"I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can."

I am motivated furthermore, to find some time this warm Summer Season, when such Diversions as Cross Dressing and Expressing as a Woman in Public Spaces are not well enjoyed, to gain better acquaintance with the work of Miss Austen, and other Notable Authors of the Fairer Sex. Perhaps in so doing One might better understand Ones own Complex Muse.

I encourage you too, to take the Quiz, and would be pleased beyond measure to find out which Heroines you feel affinity with, Dear Reader.

I remain, devotedly yours, and etc.


Claire L Hallam said...

Ah Petra, "there is no charm equal to tenderness of heart." It seems that I am closer to Elinor Dashwood- alas I am destined to have sense but not sensibility. The frocks were good of course.

Wendy said...

I'm another Elinor Dashwood type. Now I need to re-read and pay more attention to her. I think I like the modern frocks better.


Anonymous said...

Ooo la la she is my favorite heroine! so witty and beautiful, and oh so independent and curious! love it


Miss Neira

Couture Carrie said...

That description of "you"/Elizabeth is RIGHT ON! Really fun post, darling Petra!


Leslie Ann said...

I am Anne Elliot of Persuasion. Not that I know what that means, really.

Your writing style here was divinely wrought, Petra.

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