Needlework and Word-Games

By Nokes, David | The Spectator, January 22, 2000 | Go to article overview

Needlework and Word-Games


Nokes, David, The Spectator


JANE AUSTEN AND LEISURE

by David Selwyn

The Hambledon Press, 25, pp. 352

I declare,' cries Miss Bingley, 'there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!' Which perfectly true observation is only spoiled when, having twirled over a few pages in a demonstration of her utter delight, Miss Bingley yawns, looks bored, and casts around the room 'in quest of some amusement'. For all one knows, David Selwyn's book might have been treated to a similar fate, but that would have been quite unmerited; for, with its assiduous devotion to needlework, music, dancing etc, it is a perfect boon for those long, dull afternoons when reading about these things is so much less fatiguing than doing them.

Yet there are perhaps a few places where one might query an observation, or quibble with an aside. When Selwyn writes that Cassandra kept 'some' of Austen's letters ,merely to give as mementoes to her nieces' and with 'no thought that there would ever be any public interest in them' one might possibly raise an eyebrow. Did the family really have no thought that there would be public interest in this remarkable woman (of whom, in the initial tribute to her in Winchester Cathedral, there was no mention of the awkward fact that she wrote novels)? And if a polite neglect was really all that was anticipated, how unfortunate it was that some of her letters came to be burned while others were judiciously censored.

Selwyn mentions that Jane, together with her mother and sister, lived in Southampton between 1806 and 1809 and that Jane ,seems to have liked it'. That may be true, but is not really the general impression gained from her letters. She frequently complained about being forced, against her will, into the role of an impecunious hostess. 'Our acquaintance increase too fast,' she protests at the rapid succession of Footes, Berties and Lances, all expecting legs of mutton (not underdone), rice puddings and apple dumplings. While Cassandra was at Godmersham in Kent, enjoying the civilised pleasures of their brother Edward's lavish estate, she was frequently treated to Jane's outbursts of abusiveness, which she apologised for, but explained she did it 'for want of subject, having really nothing to say'. It should be remembered that Southampton was the place where, as a little girl, Jane almost died of typhoid fever, and it was ever afterwards commemorated in her youthful story 'Love and Freindship' [sic] as the place for 'stinking fish'.

Happily, such minor criticisms affect the first half of the book only, for thereafter Selwyn's gaze rises from Jane's surroundings to her work, and to the worlds which truly engaged her, of books, the theatre and of minor verse charades. The chapter on books is almost 60 pages long and full of piquant details; for example the fact that Fanny Price (of Mansfield Park) is 'borrowed' from Fanny Price in George Crabbe's Parish Register, while not new in itself, introduces numerous interesting possibilities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Needlework and Word-Games
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.