Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 5, 2012

Saturday, 4th February 2012 – getting wound up with literature!!

We didn’t have much to say yesterday, but I did get the back lawn mowed, and although the workmen out in the street have moved along a few doors from here, they did actually clear up most of the refuse they had left behind – although on closer inspection, I think a fair degree of ‘raking’ will be required before I put the lawnmower over that area!!  Seems to be a lot of mini gravel material left behind!  And at least this morning, I was not disturbed by an early morning ‘banging’ on my front door, as occurred yesterday – to eventually open and find two police gentlemen awaiting my attention, asking for the name of somebody I’d never heard of! I guess they were satisfied that I was not whom they were looking for, as they were soon on their way, although I noticed their car was parked out the front for quite a while thereafter ‘considering their options’!

Anyway, it’s Saturday morning, and a rather warm day is anticipated – rather glad that today’s gym session was a 9am starting time before too much heat gets into the day. Incidentally overnight, I noticed that India finally had a win in the cricket – the second of the two 20 over matches, played here in Melbourne saw the Indians win rather convincingly in the final analysis, by 8 wickets – India 2 for 135 defeated Australia all out for 131 [including 4 run outs!!] .  Now I believe a triangular  50 Over series with Sri Lanka joining Australia and India, commences on Sunday, here in Melbourne again.

A bit tougher at the gymnasium this morning, the instructor felt I did things too easily on Thursday, so put things up another level for me, again!!  Legs felt a little heavier or more tired than usual. However, followed up with a bit of a Saturday morning wander around the town centre, called in at Blues Plus for my Saturday morning iced coffee, then up to the Sunbury market – not really to buy anything, but have a brief chat with a couple of people from the radio station, who have stalls at this monthly market.  Admittedly, I did adjourn briefly at the book stall – accosted by the owner who obviously loves a good talk and dropping names of the rich and famous that he knows!! While all of his books are second hand, I feel that they are generally a little over-priced, however he had a lot of great Australian historical stuff there, but not exactly what I was looking for. So in my case, all of his taking didn’t earn him any cash! Actually, I spent my weekly [or monthly] book buying quota yesterday, at Collins Book Shop in Sunbury – purchased another poet from the ‘Wordsworth Poetry Library’ series – this time ‘The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson’.  Now, there was a fascinating little opening quotation to the ‘Introduction’ written by Karen Hodder.

‘He’d been out walking one morning and he came back with a great wide-awake hat full of the most terrible-looking fungi, which he brought into the drawing-room where I happened to be with my mother. He showed her his hat full of these objects and said “Emily, will you please have these cooked for luncheon?”  My grandmother was absolutely horrified. “MY dear Ally”  – she always called him Ally – “you couldn’t possibly eat those. I’m sure they’re most unsafe and poisonous”. He said “Emily, I know quite well what they are. They’re very good to eat and I should like to have them cooked for luncheon”. I think my grandmother, although she was said to influence his poetry unduly, always knew when she was beaten, so she rang the rang and gave the hat full of mushrooms to the butler,  who carried them off and had them cooked. At luncheon they appeared on a very large dish, and they were handed all around the table, and everybody refused them until they got to him – he was, of course, last on the circuit – and rather aggressively he cook the whole contents of the dish and ate them all with everybody glaring anxiously at him, thinking that he would probably fall down dead.’  [from ‘Sir Charles Tennyson, cir. Norman page, pp. 166-67].

Now in this particular series of books, I now possess the grand total of two books  [works of the poets, Tennyson, and Wordsworth]!! The only copies in fact that the local book shop had in stock, so I must look up the relevant site, and see what else is available  – I see that I have 35 still to find!!!

Thinking about books, yesterday I finished another of Jane Austin’s novels –  Northanger Abbey, which was the first of Jane Austen’s novels to be completed for publication, ready for press in 1803, but not actually published, posthumously until 1817. I must have begun to read this about a decade ago, according to a bookmark I found in the early pages, but presumably decided at that stage of my life that I was not really in a Jane Austen frame of mind! Anyway this time, I read the complete novel over a few days, and rather enjoyed it, intending to work through the other six of her novels as time goes by – actually, I’m sure I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, have certainly seen two or three movie/drama versions of it on the TV over the years in any case.  Here’s a little plot summary of the story which I found.

.‘Northanger Abbey follows seventeen-year-old Gothic novel aficionado Catherine Morland and family friends Mr. and Mrs. Allen as they visit Bath. It is Catherine’s first visit there. She meets her friends, such as Isabella Thorpe, and goes to balls. Catherine finds herself pursued by Isabella’s brother, the rather rough-mannered, slovenly John Thorpe, and by her real love interest, Henry Tilney. She also becomes friends with Eleanor Tilney, Henry’s younger sister. Henry captivates her with his view on novels and his knowledge of history and the world. General Tilney (Henry and Eleanor’s father) invites Catherine to visit their estate, Northanger Abbey, which, from her reading of Ann Radcliffe’s gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho, she expects to be dark, ancient and full of Gothic horrors and fantastical mystery’.  The story contains a number of major themes, obviously applicable in particular to the period in English history and cultural practices at which time the novel was written. Those themes include:

  • The intricacies and tedium of high society, particularly partner selection.
  • The conflicts of marriage for love and marriage for property.
  • Life lived as if in a Gothic novel, filled with danger and intrigue, and the obsession with all things gothic.
  • The dangers of believing life is the same as fiction.
  • The maturation of the young into skeptical adulthood, the loss of imagination, innocence and good faith.
  • Things are not what they seem at first.
  • Social criticism (comedy of manners).
  • Parody of the gothic novels’ “gothic and anti-gothic” attitudes.
  • In addition, Catherine Morland realises she is not to rely upon others, such as Isabella, who are negatively influential on her, but to be single-minded and independent. It is only through bad experiences that Catherine really begins to properly mature and grow up.

I guess those are the kind of themes and subject matters that one would be asked to elaborate on as am English literature student of Jane Austen’s novels.  I don’t remember studying any of them myself, though I undertook English Literature at my final year of secondary school –  my favourite subject, but disappointingly, on perusing my old school reports, I see I only gained a normal Pass in the subject!! Presumably my teacher that year didn’t agree with my synopsis of the above kind of questions. Trying to recall which pieces I actually studied that year – one was Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’, then there was also ‘The Getting of Wisdom’ by Australian author Henry Handel Richardson, and the ‘exciting’ [how I felt, not, at the time] the ‘Selected Poetry of Robert Browning’ – will us students that year, ever forget poems of the likes of ‘My Last Duchess’, ‘The Bishop Orders His Tomb’, or ‘Fra Lippo Lippi’ –  nine and half pages of the latter, though all I can recall is the name.  There must have been other books on the syllabus, just can’t recall them now [we are speaking of 1964!!!]  –   ah yes, of course, I knew William Shakespeare had to be there, somewhere’  –   my favourite Shakespeare play, ‘Hamlet’. I even have a vinyl recording of the play here at home, with Richard Burton performing the role of Hamlet!!  Enough of this literary reminiscing!






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