Saturday 1 May 2010


I don't know why but I both feared and expected something not very enthusiastic for today meeting. However I was also convinced that it depended on the fact that I  had a troubled time at trying to love this novel more than I actually did. You know I try to be honest, even blunt sometimes, and I was worried I could negatively influence my mates at the club. Instead, re-reading the novel and searching for essays and articles about it I got more and more convinced that Mansfield Park is very interesting and rich in threads for discussion, different in several ways from Austen's other novels, and you needn't love Fanny or Edmund to get caught  in it.
Anyhow,  fearing a less enthusiastic participation I had prepared a special warm up acitvity with a special message: one can have fun in a book club meeting though s/he hasn't read the chosen book, even if none of the present have read  it!

(you can see the clip I showed in my previous post)

Well, very few of us had really read the book, one had stopped in the middle, some had read about it or seen one of the adaptations (!!!) Incredibly, I had chosen the perfect beginning for such an afternoon. Geraldine and the bunch of her odd friends made some of us laugh ( those  who understand English) and some others smile (only after my translation) , and after that, we were ready to start.

We were just 8 but we discussed longer; some were absent, one had to go away after a while, but  Sig.ra Letizia ( the Miss Bates of the first meeting? ) came back after a long absence. And I was happy about it,'cause  she had much to say, interesting points, since she had  carefully read and reaserched about Mansfield Park. Then, last but not least, she brought a delicious home - made cake.

We discussed about
- Love & Marriage (reading the beginning of the novel about the 3 sisters)
- Fanny as the model heroine of good principles and good  manners
- the different beginning of 1999 and 2007 adaptations (little Fanny's leaving home and arrival at Mansfield)
- Country life - city life
- The role of the theatrical performance
- Fanny's feelings for Edmund & Edmund's for Fanny
- The Crawfords
- Role of family and education
- Comedy (Mrs Morris, Mr Rushworth)
- Edmund compared to  Edward Ferrars/Henry Tilney
- The figure of the rascal in Austen: Willoughby/Wickham/ Captain Tilney/ Henry Crawford

Sig.ra Pina was astonished, shocked by the final marriage between the two cousins which she considered deeply immoral, incestuous. None of us could convince her that  those characters were living in a different historical and social context , when and where it was not considered as such. Imagine that she is convinced that Austen is quite immoral, she has been convinced of that since the first meeting when she said she was shocked by Marianne's decision to follow Willoughby unchaperoned for an entire afternoon. Can you believe it?
She was the only one to express admiration for Edmund , the reason for that is  his convinced vocation to be a clergyman.

Sig.ra Letizia instead convinced me that I was completely wrong in considering her our Miss Bates. She is quite talkative indeed, but always says very interesting things and ... she bakes delicious cakes!
The girls were quite interested in the threads I proposed but too shy to interact with sig.ra Letizia. I was the only one who managed to cope with her.
We finally watched the end of 2007 adaptation (because the clip I had cut from  1999 film didn't want to work!) but Mara and Sig.ra Letizia had to leave before that and didn't eat the cake either nor are they among us in the pictures we took in the end.
Last meeting about Pride and Prejudice has been  the most crowded and the most exciting so far. However we had a pleasant afternoon today, too. Didn't we?
May is EMMA's month. We are discussing about Miss Woodhouse's story on the last Saturday of the month.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I cannot believe someone could think Jane immoral! I don't think there's anything of incestuous about two cousins being married. And Jane wasn't telling young girls to go away unchaperoned with young man, she was just describing a situation! By this I must believe she was encouraging people to elope when she wrote about Lydia! Anyway... I really like MP as I have already told you and I'm glad you liked it better this time. Looking foward to your Emma meeting!

Meredith said...

I'm glad it went a little better than you expected. I agree with Luciana, Jane is definitely not immoral! But I can understand it being a bit of a challenge to think about cousins marrying since it is so unheard of today.

lunarossa said...

I'm not a great fan of Mansfield Park and watching what I think is the last adaptation of the novel, the one with Billie Piper, has completely spoiled it for me. She can play a call girl but is a very unlikely Fanny! Anyway, it's good to have different opinions in a meeting, it sparks things up. I've just finished a book by Tracy Chavalier set at Jane Austen's time and I absolutely loved it. It's called Remarkable Creatures and no, it's not a JA spin off! You must absolutely read it, I'll post it to you. Ciao. A.

Maria Grazia said...

I didn't like Billie Piper as Fanny very much, maybe because I remembered her as the call girl? I've heard about Chevalier's Remarkable Creature and for what I read I think I might like it but ... do you really want to post it to me? Antonella you are really spoiling me!