INTERVIEWS WITH THE FAMOUSLY DEPARTED
Jane Austen Speaks
Jane Austen was born December 16, 1775 in England and died after an unknown illness on July 18, 1817, in England, too. Austen wrote in a realistic style with biting social commentary and became, after her death, one of the most read and loved English writers. Her works continue to be made and remade into dramas, movies, and her personal life (which her family kept private) has been the subject of conjecture and fiction.
WRR: So how are you getting along with your fellow deceased writers?
I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal. (Letter to her sister Cassandra 1798-12-24)
WRR: What’s the key to happiness?
Next week I shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you know my principal hopes of happiness depend. (Letter 1798-10-27)
…why did we wait for anything? Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation! (Emma)
WRR: And what causes unhappiness?
There are people who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves. (Emma)
WRR: OK. Still have to ask – hats?
It would be mortifying to the feelings of many ladies, could they be made to understand how little the heart of man is affected by what is costly or new in their attire. (Northanger Abbey)
WRR: You wrote a lot about how men are lacking. Anything good to say about men?
One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty. (Pride and Prejudice)
WRR: Why do women love dancing and men hate it?
To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love. (Pride and Prejudice)
WRR: So men and women are equal?
One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other. (Emma)
WRR: And which side understands better?
She was of course only too good for him; but as nobody minds having what is too good for them, he was very steadily earnest in the pursuit of the blessing… (Mansfield Park)
WRR: So women have it better?
To look almost pretty is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain for the first fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive. (Northanger Abbey)
WRR: What did you think of the U.S. Democratic and Republican parties: the fact that a woman, Hilary Clinton, was nearly nominated for the Presidency in one; and another woman, Sarah Palin, was named for the Vice Presidency in the other?
…from politics, it was an easy step to silence. (Northanger Abbey)
WRR: Presidential elections in general?
It was, perhaps, one of those cases in which advice is good or bad only as the event decides. (Persuasion)
WRR: Did you choose a side?
Here I am once more in this scene of dissipation and vice, and I begin already to find my morals corrupted. (Letter August 1796 on arriving in London)
WRR: How about giving your spin on a few events that have transpired since your passing, such as Global Warming?
I will not say that your mulberry-trees are dead, but I am afraid they are not alive. (Letter 1811-05-31)
WRR: Anything else?
What dreadful Hot weather we have! —It keeps one in a continual state of Inelegance. (Letter 1796-09-18)
WRR: Since you didn’t have the opportunity, what are thoughts about growing old?
It is a lovely night, and they are much to be pitied who have not been taught to feel, in some degree, as you do; who have not, at least, been given a taste for Nature in early life. They lose a great deal. (Mansfield Park)
WRR: During your lifetime, the sun never set on the British Empire. What do you think of the rise of India and China as the new superpowers of the 21st century?
Surprizes are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable. (Emma)
WRR: Have had the chance do much traveling since you died?
We do not look in great cities for our best morality. (Mansfield Park)
WRR: And have you changed your view about sex?
Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? (Northanger Abbey)
WRR: The great simile/metaphor debate?
I begin already to weigh my words & sentences more than I did, & am looking about for a sentiment, an illustration, or a metaphor in every corner of the room. Could my Ideas flow as fast as the rain in the Store closet it would be charming. (Letter 1809-01-24)
WRR: Mark Twain wasn’t a fan of your writings? He once said: “Jane Austen’s books, too, are absent from this library. Just that one omission alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn’t a book in it.”
Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. (Mansfield Park)
WRR: Your last thought before you died?
I shall soon be rested to sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment. (Mansfield Park)
WRR: The key to a long life?
People always live forever when there is an annuity to be paid them. (Sense and Sensibility)
WRR: Well, good luck to you. Let’s do this again sometime.
I do assure you that I am not one of those young ladies (if such young ladies there are) who are so daring as to risk their happiness on the chance of being asked a second time. (Pride and Prejudice)
Joe practiced law in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, for 14 years and designed large scale databases for AT&T for five years. He currently works for NextLevel Web Strategies, a legal marketing firm based in Princeton, NJ. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, received his J.D. from George Washington Law School and he has a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Drexel University.
Joe’s book, Philadelphia Originals, was released for publication by Schiffer Publishing in 2009. The book shows that the unique styles (how Philadelphians paint, sing, practice law, tell a joke, cook) of Philadelphia’s most notable professions can be traced back to the perfect complement of the spiritual William Penn and the practical Benjamin Franklin.
His second project. Philadelphia Before You Were Born, is a study of the last time Philadelphia newspapers used artists for all their illustrations. It was published in 2011.
Joe’s many other published writings include a humorous look at book clubs for the Bucks County Writer and the literary stages of a baseball season for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He also writes the Interviews with the Famously Departed Column for the Wild River Review.
Joe Glantz in this Edition
Dick Perez: Sports Artist for the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Phillies
From Washington DC to Salt Lake City: How Nancy Boskoff became Executive Director of the Salt Lake City Arts Council