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Posts Tagged ‘Mansfield Park’

Fanny Price is one of the most boring heroines in literature.  She is always good, always correct, and it seems that her only faults lie in being too timid and being too easily fatigued.

Edmund Bertram is one of the least interesting heroes in literature.  He is sincere, intentional, and sober.  His primary shortcoming seems to be thinking the best of people and making the most of bad circumstances.

But isn’t real life and real goodness more like this duo?  Do they not refute our human tendency to buy into bright personalities, to follow confidence, to love foolishly?  Isn’t it hard to draw the line between dying to self and giving in to the pressures of those less wise?

Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen, does seem to be busy pressing these truths.  The most charming characters are the ones who oppose the good.  Mr. Henry Crawford and his sister Mary may not set out to be wicked, but they don’t try to be good.  They try to seem good.  They may even wish they were good.  What good could be done with them if good people took them under wing, befriended them, taught, influenced, married them?

How are good people to resist the allure of reforming their lovers?  How are good people to judge accurately?

While simultaneously facing these dilemmas and illustrating them, Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram move through the excitement of new connections in the small neighborhood that has been their comfortable home.  Over and over again you see the heroine and hero making mistakes because of the things that influence their perspectives.  They doubt themselves.  They deceive themselves.  They reproach themselves.  They deny themselves.

And all through the plot, following paths merely tangential to each other, they’re getting a chance to discover the value of each other’s steady, reverential characters.  So when the events conspire to divide them from all the temptation of flattery, charm, and attraction, little wonder they proceed to fall in love with unsatisfactory brevity and with a felicity the envy of all their foolish relations.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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During Jane Austen Season on Masterpiece Theater this winter I decided to skip hassling my parents to record on the week when the biopic Miss Austen Regrets was on.  If it was like any other biography, it would be very dull.  If it was like the other movies, it would be very silly.  If it was like Becoming Jane, it would be annoying.  Unfortunately, as soon as my chances of viewing it were past, all the Austen fan sites came alive with gentle praise for the movie, and I regretted missing it. 
 
Finally the copy of Sense and Sensibility came from the library, its featured chapter being the hour and a half long Miss Austen Regrets, a wonderful film (immodest women, if that bothers you, which it does me – no brothers allowed) about Jane Austen’s views on love and marriage, mostly centering on her advice to Fanny, her niece.  It made me think.  I watched it on my anniversary, actually, and at first I thought it was rather the wrong choice for that, but then it was such a message of trusting God to do with your life what He wills, even if it isn’t marriage – but retaining a high value of marriage that I am reconciled to the decision. 
 
Not being a scholar of Jane Austen’s life, I am without criticism of the movie’s portrayal of her timeline, words, and actions.  I never thought of her as being so flirtatious, but that is because I prefer, like Elizabeth Bennett, to imagine that the people I admire share my values and convictions and that their faults, which all people must be admitted to have, are never those which expose a good understanding to ridicule.  I enjoyed the movie very much, especially the parts where Jane was writing Persuasion.  The makers of this movie, at least, understood that story. 
 
Cassandra’s relationship with her beloved witty sister the author is a fascination to me, and I am always willing to know more of it.  One thing brought up by the movie, however, was her brothers.  Jane Austen (and Cassandra, of course) had six brothers who played important roles in their lives.  Yet the only book Jane wrote where there was any substantial brother role was Mansfield Park, and though his character moves the story when it appears, and though he is dear and inspiring to his sister Fanny, he is really not all that central to the plot.  So I wondered why Jane Austen so rarely wrote about what she knew so well: the relationship of brothers and sisters. 
 
Do you ever wonder if Jane wrote Pride and Prejudice about herself and Cassandra – and her namesake was really the better representation?  Oh, I suppose outspoken and satirical Jane could never be the quiet and tender Miss Bennett.  Perhaps she really would have preferred marriage to Mr. Bingley for herself, though.  I agree with Miss Austen Regrets, that Mr. Darcy would not have done for Jane Austen (just as I imagine he would not have done for me, though like all good fans, I adore him). 
 
So now I’m back to reading the Annotated Pride and Prejudice, reveling actually in the comparative necessary openness of the written story as opposed to the famed 1995 Pride and Prejudice that got to so subtly show the change in the hero and heroine.  It is so relaxing to ponder what one reads, if it is a good piece of literature.  And who that has read Pride and Prejudice could argue that point? 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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I saw this idea on another blog, and thought that since I’m so negligent of keeping my own list, I’d try to post for you all what books I read through the year (on this one page) and whether I recommend them. As a matter of fact I have just catalogued all the books in my room like Gretchen and Natalie and YLCF blogged about, and I have over 300 (and a few duplicates to give away!).

April:
Arena by Karen Hancock (mature scenes, science fiction/allegory, really vivid story)
 

May:
St. Elmo by Augusta J. Evans (good writing, gripping story, inspiring)
June:
 

The Shaping of Things to Come (a perspective on how the Church could react to the changing culture; definitely can’t endorse all of it; thought-provoking)

The Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock (an enthralling – do you know that word means “enslaving”? – fantasy; mature scenes, violent, theological; the first of a trilogy)July:
 

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (one of her later books, some familiar characters, but developed into less extreme versions than the other books. To be honest, I didn’t like this one nearly as much as her other books, but I did find myself relating to some of the conflicts in the story.)

Present Concerns by C.S. Lewis (a collection of many short, easy to read essays written by C.S. Lewis for newspapers and magazines and forwards of books, dealing with politics, philosophy, and issues of the day.)

Basic Essentials: Weather Forecasting by Michael Hodgson (an easy to understand crash course in predicting the next 48 hours’ weather without all the doppler and satellites and other technology. Using cloud observations, wind velocity, and barometric changes, you can get a feel for what is going to happen in the weather. I’m especially fascinated to know what the different clouds mean, and to discover that there are logical reasons connecting how they look, where they are, and what they do.)

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald (a Christian classic, so I’m told, which influenced both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The story of Diamond, a young boy who learns about faith through his friendship with Lady North Wind.)August:
 

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (a friend told me this was the best book of the Anne of Green Gables series. I’m not sure, since I read most of the Anne books long ago. The setting is Prince Edward Island during World War I, and in the respect that it revealed what life was like during those oft-overlooked days of history, I greatly appreciated this tale. It is also a nice story, filled with deep characters, as anyone who has read L.M. Montgomery might expect.)

Journey of the Heart by Jeannie Castleberry (The tale of a girl about my age dealing with feeling left behind by older siblings and friends who have husbands while she doesn’t. Through a lot of guidance from practically perfect parents, she learns about her relationship with God and her family, and about not settling for a man about whom God has not given you peace. I have to say that this story is not the best writing I’ve ever read; sometimes it reads like a bullet-point list of what it means to be committed to courtship.)

Epicenter by Joel Rosenberg (A hard-to-classify book explaining the Ezekiel prophecy, world events, and opinions of experts and world leaders that led Joel Rosenberg to write a series of novels recognized as prophetic. I appreciated the grasp he has on worldwide trends, and his emphasis on taking the Bible as a guide even for real-life decisions like drilling for oil in Israel or taking Bibles to the Middle East.)

The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers (a metaphor-charged story of a little girl who, burdened by guilt, turns her village upsidedown looking for someone who, instead of eating her sins once she died, could relieve her of her sins right now. I don’t agree with all of the theology, and the village people seemed to have more than their fair share of horrible sins, but the story was really good and well written.)

September:
Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney (a short book reminding me of the gravity of the gospel and the grace remembered when you focus on the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross while we were yet sinners.)

I, Isaac Take Thee, Rebekah by Ravi Zacharias (originally I thought this was a book for married people, but since I am preparing a Sunday school lesson series on the Church as the Bride of Christ I decided to read it. That is not the topic of this book. Ravi writes this application of the story of Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis to teach young people to prepare for or be diligent to work on their marriage. A theme is the will behind marriage. One of the most memorable illustrations is that of Ravi’s own brother who with his parents and aunt arranged his own marriage.)

Waking Rose by Regina Doman (the third in a series of modern retellings of fairy tales. Based on Sleeping Beauty, experience an exciting tale about waiting for love, about redemption, heroes, and the sanctity of life. With ample references to literature, and a Christian worldview, this approximately 300 page-book with a beautiful cover is a great read. I only need to mention that whereas her prior books were not distractingly Catholic, this book has more Catholic references: Mary, praying the rosary, etc.)

Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis (Another great CS Lewis collection of essays. This book has the seeds of most of the ideas you find cunningly presented in his novel. The first one – Weight of Glory, and the last two – Slip of the Tongue and Membership are my favorite, covering the more Christian and less philosophical topics. A good book for underlining.)

Pearl of Beauty compiled by Natalie Nyquist (I read this in one day. It is a collection of classic tales similar to Aesop’s fables in that there is a moral – for young women – to every story. Louisa May Alcott and George MacDonald are both represented. I’d recommend this book, not only because the stories are enchanting, but also because of the study/discussion questions Natalie included. I think it’s a great resource for raising or mentoring young ladies.)

October:
Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham, Jr. (see full review, recommend)

Love and Freindship (sic) by Jane Austen (see full review)

November:

Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings by Charles H. Hapgood (Focuses on the Piri Re’is map discovered in 1929, but compiled in 1513 by a Turkish sailor.  Through a discussion of comparative geography, navigational grids called portolanos, and projection; Professor Hapgood and his team of students and collaborators were able to show that: 1.  The map more accurately represented Middle America, Antarctica, and Africa than maps drawn at the time.  The existence of an antarctic continent was dismissed during the age of exploration for about three hundred years until it was, apparently, rediscovered.  2.  The reason the map was so accurate was because the makers of the map – it was a compilation of many local maps – could accurately compute latitude and longitude, technology absent during the Renaissance and the next couple centuries.  3.  The projection(s), or the way the map displayed the continents relative to each other, required trigonometry to account for the spherical surface of the earth.  Trigonometry was in use by the Greeks, but not in cartography during the sixteenth century.  In second grade I was taught that Columbus discovered the earth was round, and discovered America even though he thought it was India.  This book proposes that Columbus had access to an ancient map and was using it to search for land across the Atlantic.  He may have even had one identical to the Piri Re’is map, evidenced by a 70 degree tilt in that map of only the islands of the Caribbean.  You should read this book, but with a critical mind.  The author never considered the Bible as an explanation for his findings, and gives dates for his archaeology and geology inconsistent with the Bible, putting confidence in radioactive dating techniques.) 

The Highlander’s Last Song by George MacDonald (beautiful descriptions, some good philosophical things to consider, but don’t read it if you aren’t solid on biblical theology.  I love Scotland, and the hero was a wonderful leader.  The story shows real progression in each of the characters.) 

December:
The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager by Thomas Hine (A history of America centered on people between 10 and 20 years old.  Deals with economics, morality, media, and education.  I enjoyed a sweeping look at US history as well as perspective on what we consider normal for teenagers and adolescence.  The author does not have a biblical worldview; import your own into it for some impressive conclusions.  A good book, but for adult readers only.) 

The Immortal Game by David Shenk (Brilliantly organized, well-chosen information, at a captivating speed; this book traces the history of the world as associated with chess: Islamic Caliphs, the rise of queens in Europe, and artificial intelligence, among many others.)

What did you read?  Share in the comments, or link to your website if you have a similar list!

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

I saw this idea on another blog, and thought that since I’m so negligent of keeping my own list, I’d try to post for you all what books I read through the year (on this one page) and whether I recommend them. As a matter of fact I have just catalogued all the books in my room like Gretchen and Natalie and YLCF blogged about, and I have over 300 (and a few duplicates to give away!).

This list will be updated as I 1) read more books, and 2) remember more books I already read.

April:
Arena by Karen Hancock (mature scenes, science fiction/allegory, really vivid story)

May:
St. Elmo by Augusta J. Evans (good writing, gripping story, inspiring)

June:
The Shaping of Things to Come (a perspective on how the Church could react to the changing culture; definitely can’t endorse all of it; thought-provoking)

The Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock (an enthralling – do you know that word means “enslaving”? – fantasy; mature scenes, violent, theological; the first of a trilogy)

July:
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (one of her later books, some familiar characters, but developed into less extreme versions than the other books. To be honest, I didn’t like this one nearly as much as her other books, but I did find myself relating to some of the conflicts in the story.)

Present Concerns by C.S. Lewis (a collection of many short, easy to read essays written by C.S. Lewis for newspapers and magazines and forwards of books, dealing with politics, philosophy, and issues of the day.)

Basic Essentials: Weather Forecasting by Michael Hodgson (an easy to understand crash course in predicting the next 48 hours’ weather without all the doppler and satellites and other technology. Using cloud observations, wind velocity, and barometric changes, you can get a feel for what is going to happen in the weather. I’m especially fascinated to know what the different clouds mean, and to discover that there are logical reasons connecting how they look, where they are, and what they do.)

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald (a Christian classic, so I’m told, which influenced both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The story of Diamond, a young boy who learns about faith through his friendship with Lady North Wind.)

August:
Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (a friend told me this was the best book of the Anne of Green Gables series. I’m not sure, since I read most of the Anne books long ago. The setting is Prince Edward Island during World War I, and in the respect that it revealed what life was like during those oft-overlooked days of history, I greatly appreciated this tale. It is also a nice story, filled with deep characters, as anyone who has read L.M. Montgomery might expect.)

Journey of the Heart by Jeannie Castleberry (The tale of a girl about my age dealing with feeling left behind by older siblings and friends who have husbands while she doesn’t. Through a lot of guidance from practically perfect parents, she learns about her relationship with God and her family, and about not settling for a man about whom God has not given you peace. I have to say that this story is not the best writing I’ve ever read; sometimes it reads like a bullet-point list of what it means to be committed to courtship.)

Epicenter by Joel Rosenberg (A hard-to-classify book explaining the Ezekiel prophecy, world events, and opinions of experts and world leaders that led Joel Rosenberg to write a series of novels recognized as prophetic. I appreciated the grasp he has on worldwide trends, and his emphasis on taking the Bible as a guide even for real-life decisions like drilling for oil in Israel or taking Bibles to the Middle East.)

The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers (a metaphor-charged story of a little girl who, burdened by guilt, turns her village upsidedown looking for someone who, instead of eating her sins once she died, could relieve her of her sins right now. I don’t agree with all of the theology, and the village people seemed to have more than their fair share of horrible sins, but the story was really good and well written.)

September:
Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney (a short book reminding me of the gravity of the gospel and the grace remembered when you focus on the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross while we were yet sinners.)

I, Isaac Take Thee, Rebekah by Ravi Zacharias (originally I thought this was a book for married people, but since I am preparing a Sunday school lesson series on the Church as the Bride of Christ I decided to read it. That is not the topic of this book. Ravi writes this application of the story of Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis to teach young people to prepare for or be diligent to work on their marriage. A theme is the will behind marriage. One of the most memorable illustrations is that of Ravi’s own brother who with his parents and aunt arranged his own marriage.)

Waking Rose by Regina Doman (the third in a series of modern retellings of fairy tales. Based on Sleeping Beauty, experience an exciting tale about waiting for love, about redemption, heroes, and the sanctity of life. With ample references to literature, and a Christian worldview, this approximately 300 page-book with a beautiful cover is a great read. I only need to mention that whereas her prior books were not distractingly Catholic, this book has more Catholic references: Mary, praying the rosary, etc.)

Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis (Another great CS Lewis collection of essays. This book has the seeds of most of the ideas you find cunningly presented in his novel. The first one – Weight of Glory, and the last two – Slip of the Tongue and Membership are my favorite, covering the more Christian and less philosophical topics. A good book for underlining.)

Pearl of Beauty compiled by Natalie Nyquist (I read this in one day. It is a collection of classic tales similar to Aesop’s fables in that there is a moral – for young women – to every story. Louisa May Alcott and George MacDonald are both represented. I’d recommend this book, not only because the stories are enchanting, but also because of the study/discussion questions Natalie included. I think it’s a great resource for raising or mentoring young ladies.)

October:
Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham, Jr. (see full review, recommend)

Love and Freindship (sic) by Jane Austen (see full review)

November:

Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings by Charles H. Hapgood (Focuses on the Piri Re’is map discovered in 1929, but compiled in 1513 by a Turkish sailor.  Through a discussion of comparative geography, navigational grids called portolanos, and projection; Professor Hapgood and his team of students and collaborators were able to show that: 1.  The map more accurately represented Middle America, Antarctica, and Africa than maps drawn at the time.  The existence of an antarctic continent was dismissed during the age of exploration for about three hundred years until it was, apparently, rediscovered.  2.  The reason the map was so accurate was because the makers of the map – it was a compilation of many local maps – could accurately compute latitude and longitude, technology absent during the Renaissance and the next couple centuries.  3.  The projection(s), or the way the map displayed the continents relative to each other, required trigonometry to account for the spherical surface of the earth.  Trigonometry was in use by the Greeks, but not in cartography during the sixteenth century.  In second grade I was taught that Columbus discovered the earth was round, and discovered America even though he thought it was India.  This book proposes that Columbus had access to an ancient map and was using it to search for land across the Atlantic.  He may have even had one identical to the Piri Re’is map, evidenced by a 70 degree tilt in that map of only the islands of the Caribbean.  You should read this book, but with a critical mind.  The author never considered the Bible as an explanation for his findings, and gives dates for his archaeology and geology inconsistent with the Bible, putting confidence in radioactive dating techniques.) 

The Highlander’s Last Song by George MacDonald (beautiful descriptions, some good philosophical things to consider, but don’t read it if you aren’t solid on biblical theology.  I love Scotland, and the hero was a wonderful leader.  The story shows real progression in each of the characters.) 

December:

The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager by Thomas Hine (A history of America centered on people between 10 and 20 years old.  Deals with economics, morality, media, and education.  I enjoyed a sweeping look at US history as well as perspective on what we consider normal for teenagers and adolescence.  The author does not have a biblical worldview; import your own into it for some impressive conclusions.  A good book, but for adult readers only.) 

The Immortal Game by David Shenk (Brilliantly organized, well-chosen information, at a captivating speed; this book traces the history of the world as associated with chess: Islamic Caliphs, the rise of queens in Europe, and artificial intelligence, among many others.)

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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