What we're about

This group is for those who wish to study the works of Jane Austen, along with any novels, poetry, criticism, plays, visual art, etc. that serve to enhance our understanding and enjoyment of this great novelist. Our group, which was christened on 9/24/14, started with the novel, "Emma", considered by many to be Austen's best. We read and discussed the text, volume by volume for a total of three sessions, one per month. We then looked at Sir Walter Scott's seminal critical review of this novel to see how it was received in Austen's day. As a companion reading to "Emma", we then proceeded to Gustave Flaubert's "Madame Bovary" for a cross cultural comparison of the two Emmas.

From there we read:

"Persuasion" and Romantic poetry of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron, Austen biographies, "The Mysteries of Udolpho" by Ann Radcliffe, "Northanger Abbey" by Jane Austen, "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens, "Lady Susan" by Jane Austen,"Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen,"The Bride of Lammermoor" by Sir Walter Scott,"All Roads lead to Austen" by Amy Elizabeth Smith, "Evelina" by Fanny Burney, "Love and Freindship" by Jane Austen, "Pride and Prometheus" by John Kessel, and "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, "Jane Austen:The Secret Radical" by Helena Kelly, "Mansfield Park" by Jane Austen, "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte, and "North and South" by Elizabeth Gaskell.

We cap each Austen reading with a session on critical essays by scholars and a "Film and Feast" session featuring a comparison of clips from film adaptations of the novels along with a potluck feast of British and Regency inspired foods.

Occasionally we schedule a game night for active members, where we challenge each other with pub type quizzes, along with Austen related literary games.

Readers at all levels of familiarity with Jane Austen, who wish to better understand her genius (we typically avoid fan fiction and sequel literature in our reading selections, although we do pass comment upon them from time to time), are invited and encouraged to join us!

Here are some guideline criteria for potential members to consider. They are taken from the philosopher John Locke's "Rules of a Society". They also happen to be the ones Founding Father Benjamin Franklin chose as base qualifications for membership in his Philadelphia Junto! In our case, while we are open to hearing all varieties of interpretation, we rely on what texts reveal when coming to conclusions. Necessarily, we may sometimes have to agree to disagree about some matters. Scholars do this! We do this as well. Please do not bring any personal agendas to our meetings:

"1. Whether he (she) loves all men (women), of what profession or religion (or no religion) soever?

2. Whether he (she) thinks no persons ought to be harmed in his (her) body, name or good, for mere speculative opinions, or his (her) external way of worship.

3. Whether he (she) loves and seeks truth for truth's sake; and will endeavor impartially to find and receive it himself, and to communicate it to others?"

Francine Prose's, "Reading Like A Writer" is also highly recommended reading for active members of our group. Prose shows readers a way of discussion to which our group at the very least aspires!

2019 Schedule

Thursday, January 17, 2019, 6:30 PM, "Sanditon" by Jane Austen, to Chapter 12

Thursday, February 21, 2019, 6:30 PM, "Sanditon: Jane Austen's Last Novel Completed", to end

Thursday, March 21, 2019, 6:30 PM, "Middlemarch" by George Eliot, Books 1-3

Thursday, April 18, 2019, 6:30 PM, "Middlemarch" by George Eliot, Books 4-6

Thursday, May 16, 2019, 6:30 PM, "Middlemarch", by George Eliot, Books 7-8

"Also read again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen's very finely written novel of "Pride and Prejudice". That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings of characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The big Bow Wow strain I can do myself like any now going: but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of description and the sentiment, is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!"

Sir Walter Scott , Journal entry on March 14, 1826

"Forget the Jane Austen you think you know. Forget the biographies; forget the pretty adaptations. Ignore the banknote. Read Jane's novels. They're there to speak for her: love stories, yes, though not always happy ones, but the production of an extraordinary mind, in an extraordinary age.

Read them again." Helena Kelly, "Jane Austen, The Secret Radical"

Upcoming events (1)

Let's Meet to Discuss "Sanditon" by Jane Austen

Le Pain Quotidien

Jane Austen started writing "Sanditon", a novel about health and hypochondria by the sea, in the year of her death, 1817. She developed the novel to the 11th chapter, but then succumbed to her fatal illness, leaving only a fragment of what promised to be a marvelous work. In this session we shall discuss Austen's "Sanditon". In a second session (February 21, 2019) we will consider the conclusion written to the novel authored by "another lady" via "Sanditon: Jane Austen's Last Novel Completed". Published in 1975, long before the spike in Austen's popularity, with the book market increasingly swamped with prequels, sequels, and completions, this unidentified British novelist's work has been judged "seamless" by critics. Both the original text and the completion are included in this book: https://www.amazon.com/Sanditon-Jane-Austens-Novel-Completed/dp/0684843420

Past events (45)

Let's Meet To Discuss "North and South" Part 2

Le Pain Quotidien

Photos (12)