Friday, June 15, 2012

A post that is more or less about Emma, by Jane Austen

What is there to say about Emma which has not already been said? I hardly think that I can add anything to the world's discussion, except to document some of my experiences in re-reading this classic.

For starters, I have to tell you that I found this Jane Austen collection at our local used bookstore which I snatched up instantly. I already owned the works of Jane Austen but my previous copies were not 6x4"! I've scoured Google and Amazon and can't find the collection listed anywhere (even the website on the back of my book is no longer valid) but I did find the ISBN number for it on Amazon and I've linked to that. (It's remarkably cheap and incredibly cute.) I think it fitting to read Austen from tiny Austen-sized books! The cover art that you see here, is not of Emma but it is the only picture from the series of books that I could find online. As the Amazon reviewer mentions, the font in the book is small but, still, it adds to the experience. I quite liked reading this smaller edition. It also received compliments wherever I took it.

Mostly, my pint-sized edition received compliments from Emergency Room nurses who watched me read it during one extremely annoying Saturday morning wherein I spent 4 hours in the ER (for myself). (I'm fine. No worries. I made incredible progress with my book.) All of the nurses coo-ed over it. Then I was wheeled back for a CT scan (again, worries) I had the following conversation with the male attendant:

MA: What are you reading?
Me: Emma.
MA: Oh. Huh. Any good?
Me: (With an inward sigh of despair.) Yes.
MA: Have you ever read _________ (insert someone whose name I've forgotten but who writes modern thrillers)?

When a reader walks into the ER with a classic work of literature, you can actually add more pain to their experience by declaring that you'd never heard of it before. (Sigh.) At any rate, I made it through the ER experience just fine (I'm all good now! Really!) and also made it halfway through Emma before I finally got to go home.

I was charmed completely by this read through. I must have read it last at the beginning of my college experience. As it happens quite frequently, time and space cause me to forget the details of the story so although I'm familiar with the storyline, many aspects of it are brand new (all over again). I guess that's the beauty of a bad memory. (Although I've come to realize lately that my memory isn't exactly bad. If I experienced a traumatic event, I remember it in great detail. If I'm perfectly happy with something, I only think on it pleasantly and have forgotten the greater details. Wrong? I think yes.)

My favorite passage this time is as follows:

It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at any ball of any description, and no material injury to body or mind; - but when a beginning is made - when the felicities of rapid motion have once been, though slightly, felt - it must be a very heavy set that does not ask for more. (Chapter Twenty-four)

I think that is a very true statement. If you have never danced, you simply do not know what you are missing. If you have danced and enjoyed it, and haven't had the pleasure of a waltz most recently, you miss it something fierce. The moment your knees bend and the 'felicities of rapid motion' have begun, the spirit starts to soar a bit. (I realize she was making fun, in part, of the desire to dance - but still.)

The following quote is just, well, me when I was "just friends" with Jonathan and wished to remain so in exactly the way we were. (I wouldn't have minded it if we were more than friends at the time, mind you. But my lips were sealed tight on that subject. It was up to him to say something, after all! So long as we could continue on as friends. . . )

Could she be secure of that, indeed, of his never marrying at all, she believed she should be perfectly satisfied. - Let him but continue the same Mr. Knightly to her and her father, the same Mr. Knightly to all the world; let Donwell and Hartfield never lose none of their precious intercourse of friendship and confidence, and her peace would be fully secured. (Chapter 48)

Emma ends up being just as glad as I that her Mr. Knightly spoke in favor of marriage. (Whew!)

I also recently got together with my in-town friend to watch the 2009 BBC Version of Emma and we both loved it thoroughly. The only big variation it takes is in the opening scenes. In the BBC version it starts with Emma, Frank and Jane Fairfax as children. Otherwise, it follows the book closely and as it is a four part mini series, it also covers the story very well. I believe actress Romola Garai did justice to the role of Emma and it was a thorough delight. I heartily recommend it!

Watching the movie is definitely an experience which is made far richer by reading the book again. I felt I could appreciate it more fully and with greater understanding. Either which way (book or movie) I enjoyed my re-reading experience.

And now I shall stop rambling.


Melissa said...

I adore Emma! In fact, I got the BBC mini-series for my birthday this year. I recently re-read the book, too. Mr. Knightly is a favourite of mine (notice how I spelled favourite?!)

I read Persuasion for the first time this year (listened to it on audio, actually) and I love that book as well.

Joyful Reader said...

I hope I don't break your heart when I tell you I have never read Emma. BUT, it is in my stack to accomplish. I wish it were part of a reading challenge so that I would make it a priority. I can't wait to get to it.

B said...

Better Emma than Fifty Shades of Grey...

And I suspect Jane Austen would agree, for any number of reasons :)

Barbara H. said...

I'm glad to know all is well after the ER visit! I *have* to have a book with me at such times. I'd go stark raving mad staring at the bare walls. I'm glad Emma kept you in good company. I had read it in a college literary criticism class and loved it -- that was my first Austen book. I just reread it not too very long ago. I like the Gwynneth Paltrow version of Emma but I like this newer version, too. Mr. Knightly is my favorite Austen male protagonist.

Diary of an Autodidact said...

I have had that *exact same conversation* about any number of classic books. To paraphrase another favorite author, "What DO they teach in schools these days?"

If it makes you feel any better, I have read and loved Emma. In some ways, I think that she is Austen's most dynamic (i.e. growing) protagonist. Her whole worldview turns on its head and she is transformed as a result.

Glad to hear you are ok.

Sky said...

I am of course, jealous of your dear little Austen book set, but I am pleased that it has found a good home! I am also glad that you had excellent company, if in a book, during your ER visitation!
I would much rather read Emma for the umpteenth time than *insert popular degrading novel here*.

My "other" book club is reading "50 Shades of Grey". I read the Amazon reviews and remain firmly convicted that I have absolutely no desire to read it, or be associated with it in any way! Based upon the reviews I am rather shocked that the author was able to squeeze a TRILOGY out of her limited vocabulary! SIGH....

I had heard of the BBC miniseries and I am looking forward to making a further acquaintance!

BerlinerinPoet said...

I watched that adaption with someone we both know whose name I will not drop, but rhymes with Feric Spearcy. (I know...I'm SO subtle) And when Emma at first tries to stop Mr. Knightly from "changing the friendship" he definitely yelled, "NOOOOOOOO!!!" Which was funny coming from the SOLE male in the room.

This is my favorite Austin and SO many people I know are reading it right now. My youngest sister just finished it. My pen pal is reading it, and now you. Maybe the muse of literature is trying to tell me something.

Your pint sized editions sound hilarious. And I've actually had a similar conversation to the one you had with your Male attendant. It caused similar sensations of groaning in me too.

Shonya said...

What a fun summer read! Glad you are ok, in spite of ER visits, and I'm thinking SOME PEOPLE will do *anything* to get time to read! lol ;)

Emmy D said...

So there IS something good about having a bad memory...good! I recently read Emma for the first time and was enchated. Now I just need to get to Mansfield Park and I'll have read them all...
Do you have a favorite Austen, Carrie?

*carrie* said...

I confess--I've never read it! But I have seen the movie (Gwyneth version) a few times.

As for you--all's well that ends well?!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I *THINK* I read it back oh, about eight years ago or so for a graduate English class (or did I?) Can you tell I can't remember it?

Glad to know you're well!

Anonymous said...

I was delighted to discover two of the Austen miniatures, "Mansfield Park" and "Persuasion", last fall at my local T J Maxx, of all places, for only $2.99 apiece! Hoping to complete my newfound collection, I searched the entire store over, but sadly, to no avail. I've never seen these offered for sale anywhere since.

Lisa Spence said...

I agree: that adaptation was fantastic!

Bluerose said...

I recently found some really old Jane Austen books, but they had such small print, I debated whether or not to get them. I did, for the artwork in the front more than anything. They ended up being free, so I am glad either way I got them.

Your set sounds really cute, but my eyes are hurting just thinking about the tiny print. ;)

I'm glad you're okay! I hate you had to spend so much time at the ER, but at least you got in some good reading time.

Litterairy said...

I spent my (only) ER wait time quilting. I realized I was drawing the attention of an elderly man. He and his daughter cheered when I got my needle threaded and he offered "My mother used to sew." He was curious to know what I was making and where I learned to sew. When he left he said, "It is so nice to see someone doing something other than staring at one of those little computer thingies." I daresay the same applies to your reading a *real* book. My favorite public reading interruption is when someone asks "What is your book about?" when I'm reading a classic.

Unknown said...

You are very funny. That's all.

Anonymous said...

Loved, loved, loved this post. Emma is totally on my reading list for the summer. I actually started reading it after I watched the BBC mini-series with my friends (which I agree, is well done).
Thanks so much for your interesting and refreshingly honest reviews.

Cassandra said...

I'm glad you were alright even though you were in the ER!

Now I want to read P&P again. Emma was not one of my favorites, but I can definitely appreciate it. The cover you posted is simply lovely!

Stephanie Kay said...

The BBC version is definitely better than the Gwyneth Paltrow version! But then, isn't the BBC version always better than Hollywood's? :)

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