Sunday, 11 November 2007

New Stables

Old Grey Pony has moved.

Chez Grey is now Old Grey Pony at WordPress

See you on the other side of the paddock.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Accident and Coincidence in Persuasion. Part Two.

It is during the significant turning point of Persuasion’s storyline, the visit to Lyme, that the accidents of Uppercross come to a head, and where the strands of the web holding Wentworth close to Louisa Musgrove and away from Anne shift and snap in their course. The visit to Lyme heralds the closing of the country setting and the opening of the Bath one, and the change from country accidents to town coincidences.

The climax of the bond between Louisa and Wentworth, a frenzy of school-girlish admiration on her side and careless enjoyment on his, comes in the form of Persuasion’s most significant accident, Louisa’s near tragic fall on the Cobb at Lyme. The intimacy between Wentworth and Louise is child like and during their walks around Uppercross ‘he had had to jump her from the stiles’ as ‘the sensation was delightful to her’. From the steps on the Cobb Louisa insists Wentworth catches her, which he does, but a second, too precipitous jump leaves her seriously injured, concussed, unconscious for a period and bedridden during a long convalescence at Lyme. Louisa’s accident puts crucial developments into motion, realizations and reactions that pull Wentworth away from her and towards Anne:

…he had seen everything to exalt in his estimation the woman he had lost; and there begun to deplore the pride, the folly, the madness of resentment, which had kept him from trying to regain her when thrown in his way

Louisa’s obstinacy in jumping despite warnings of danger and Anne’s quick thinking and sensible reactions to the emergency, his feelings of guilt and responsibility and the group’s assuming there to be agreement between himself and Louisa force Wentworth to analyze his actions of the past few weeks, and to acknowledge his obligation to Louisa even while he confronts the reality that he is still very much in love with Anne, but honor bound to Louisa.

But as Louisa recovers she begins to fall in love with, and to be loved by, Captain Benwick. Benwick’s fiancé had died the previous summer while he was at sea, an accidental chance that left Benwick broken hearted and in need of healing himself. And though he could not be at the sickbed of Fanny Harville, he could be by Louisa Musgrove’s. The quiet, nervous girl that Louisa emerges as is the patient that Benwick can nurse, and the bookish, intelligent and kind Captain is exactly the man to now capture her heart. The news of their engagement frees Wentworth of any obligation and propels him to Bath in search of Anne, her love and her hand. But in Bath he also finds a man the narrative had introduced ever so teasingly, by coincidence of course, at Lyme: Anne’s estranged cousin Mr Elliot.

To be continued.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Progess. It's Mighty Satisfying.

I am back from our sojourn on Salt Spring Island, where you can be sure that though I got in many Austen style long country walks, the activities mostly boiled down to sitting around doing nothing but eating, drinking and basking in the sun and occasionally foraging for sun warmed blackberries, peaches, apples and figs. A city dweller has to make the most of fresh fruit, fresh air and sea breezes after all but it was my birthday and I celebrated by sitting down an awful lot and partaking of our host's fine beverages and cheeses. I really am quite amazed by how much a person can put away when they're on holiday, it's like psychological appetite enhancement.

I must humbly ask that my dear readership, parva sed apta, stand by me with angelic patience while I take yet a little more time off from writing. After more than twelve months of worry, of fussing about with paperwork, of pushing forward blind and not really knowing where were going and lamenting not having a lawyer, I've recently been notified that next week I am being granted my Canadian residency, for as some of you already know I'm Australian and married to a Canuck. My residency will finally allow me to work, study and leave the country. Though I'm just across the border in Vancouver I haven't been able to visit America in almost two years and I'll tell you, the stores in Seattle that carry Tom's Shoes and Ethiopian coffee beans and competitively priced liquor are not going to know what hit them. Me. In a caffeine fueled, Tom's wearing shopping frenzy with my Seattle based sister in law. (Hi Dieringers!)

But that's for later. Right now I need a little time to prepare for my entr
é into Canadian Residency. I'll still be manning Old Grey Pony as before when I've gotten myself organized. In the meantime, here's a few points of interest.

  1. Many Books is a fantastic resource from which you can download many books in PDF, eBook or iPod Notes format, and from where I just acquired some long desired works of Elizabeth von Arnim.
  2. Many readers of Jane Austen's novels and short stories enjoy a dive into the dubious world of Austen film and TV adaptations and I'm not immune to an occasional dip myself. I have seen every, and I mean every, adaptation and the only ones I can recommend unreservedly are Persuasion 1995 (Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds) and Northanger Abbey 1986 (Peter Firth and Katharine Schlesinger).
  3. It has nothing to do with Austen but I think Indexed is adorable. Enjoy.

Back in a week or so.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, 17 August 2007

Short Haitus

Mr Hasenauer and I are getting out of the city for a few days and will be on holiday on Salt Spring Island, rusticating in a wee cabin on a vineyard.

Posts will begin again shortly on the 25th of August.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Extra Long Georgian Item of the Week

Emma, Lady Hamilton
c. 1765 - 1815

Study of Emma Hart as Circe
circa 1782-85
George Romney
Tate Gallery, London

One of the most scandalous relationships of Georgian England was the devoted alliance between Emma, Lady Hamilton and the hero of the nation, Horatio Nelson. Like any public and unconventional woman, an inordinate amount has been written about Lady Hamilton, much of it unflattering and most of it untrue. The daughter of a Blacksmith, Emma, born Amy Lyon in Cheshire circa 1761-5, at the age of sixteen or seventeen was a most ravishingly beautiful girl who had become the full time mistress of the Hon. Charles Greville in London after having been very lately abandoned pregnant by her former lover Sir Harry Fetherstonehaugh. Before her entry into the demi-monde Lyon worked as nursemaid in two or three private houses. Greville set her and her widowed mother up in their own home and Amy Lyon thereafter went by the more upwardly mobile name of Mrs Emma Hart. Her daughter Emma Carew was brought up by her grandmother in Wales.

During the five years she lived with Greville, Emma sat more than 100 times for the painter George Romney. Though a majority of these sittings were by Romney's obsessive desir
e, many of them were commissioned by Greville and it was the cost of these portraits that helped contribute to the massive personal debts that forced Greville to give Emma up in 1786 in search of a wealthy bride. Greville sent her to Naples to be the guest of his uncle Sir William Hamilton, leading vulcanologist and British Envoy to Naples and a widower, with the expressed plan of following her shortly. In reality Greville intended to remain in England and marry an heiress, and that the fascinating, charismatic presence and angelic, Grecian beauty of Emma would prevent the already fond Sir William from remarrying elsewhere and thereby disinheriting him. After months of waiting faithfully for Greville, the reality of her situation dawned on her and Emma became instead Sir William's mistress, whom she admired and grew to love, and as such she was educated and 'finished', the benefits of elocution, foreign language and singing lessons added to her natural graces, and in 1791 he married her, much to the chagrin no doubt of Charles Greville.

As Lady Hamilton Emma was literally the toast of Naples society. She was a favourite at the Neapolitan court of Kind Ferdinand IV and the close friend and confident of the Queen, Maria
Carolina (sister of Marie Antoinette of France). In Naples she developed her Attitudes, a repetoire of tableaux vivant poses representing classical characters from Ancient Greek and
Roman history, that became famous and much admired in Europe by many, including writer Johann Wolfgang Goethe and composer Joseph Hadyn, other artists and academics and many of the members of parliament, of royal families and of aristocracies within Sir William's vast and
varied ambassadorial and scientific circles.

Emma Hamilton as the Goddess of Health (Vestina)
circa 1786-90
Robert Cosway

The National Maritime Museum London

Although Emma was very beautiful, it was the way she could embody a character as an ideal and her eye for the visually artistic, the skills of a good model and a muse, that made her prized by many painters as a subject, including Vigée le Brun, Marie Antoinette's friend and principal portrait artist. The Neoclassicism of the Enlightenment and the European Republican admiration for Ancient Greece and Rome were the driving forces behind the radical change of dress in the Georgian period and the simple, classical, Grecian costumes of Lady Hamilton's Attitudes were hugely influential on the Directoire and Empire styles of women's dress in Europe and Britain. Lady Hamilton was certainly not clever, she could be very critical and she had a healthy appetite for admiration, and for wine but she was also good company, warm, loyal, an excellent wife to Sir William and a widely respected society hostess.

Emma first met Admiral Nelson briefly in August 1793 when his ship The Agamemnon docked in the Bay of Naples but it was not until he returned after five years of war in 1798 that their unique relationship was solidified. The bond between Sir William, Emma and Nelson was complicated and highly nuanced. A frail, injured and battle-weary Nelson was nursed back to health and joyfulness by an attentive Emma. First as his nursemaid, with the skills and patience she'd learned in her pre-courtesan career and then as his mistress, Emma nurtured and worshiped Nelson who was, at the same time, treated as a son and friend by Sir William. For the next 18 months, Nelson, who was childless but married to a wife in England, lived in a ménage-à-trois with the Hamiltons while his ships were moored in the bay of Naples.

In 1800 the Hamiltons and Nelson returned to England, where society was far less forgiving and where Nelson, his estranged wife and family were adored and Emma was despised and ridiculed in the press. Nelson did spend some time with Fanny, Lady Nelson at first but eventually gave her up entirely and, between naval engagements, he was most often a guest in Sir William's house in London and openly continued his affair with Emma. The affair was an outrageous scandal, sympathy and solidarity for the abandoned and blameless Lady Nelson was intense and Emma, though the wife of the highly respected Neapolitan ambassador, was denied presentation at court and duly shunned by good society. But she was believed to have become a friend of the Prince Regent, naturally. In 1801 while in the late stages of pregnancy, she still went abroad in London, defying the accepted practice of gentlewomen to not socialize at large once they had began to show, and to remain confined entirely to their homes in late pregnancy. She was consequently lampooned in the press as hugely obese and, despite her education, charm and grace, as vulgar and irredeemably working class.

Their daughter Horatia was born in 1801. Sir William, quite elderly by this time, died in London in 1803 and Nelson purchased a house for Emma at Merton but he himself was assigned to the HMS Victory and would not return to England for two years. Their second child Emma was born not long after his departure and died early of chicken pox. Upon his return , he and Emma lived happily for a few short months as husband and wife at Merton before he was recalled to the war. Horatio Nelson was killed in action at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. In his will, Nelson entrusted Emma's care to the nation, as his estate must fall to his brother, but this was ignored by George III and his government. With her working class roots, her questionable past and her penchant for self-display Emma Hamilton was an embarrassment. Struggling to keep up Merton as a monument to England's beloved Nelson, she swiftly burned through all she had within three years and after borrowing money she couldn't repay, she spent a year with Horatia in King's Bench debtor's prison, where the Prince Regent dined with her on occasion. She then left England permanently for France. Emma had always been a drinker and she died destitute of alcoholism ten years later in Calais in 1815. Emma Carew is believed to have died without issue, abroad or in Wales not long after her mother. Horatia Nelson was taken in by Nelson's mother's relations and later married the Reverend Phillip Ward at the age of 21. They were apparently very happy and had ten children together, eight of who survived to adulthood and whose descents still live in Norfolk.

I sometimes wonder if the very public and well publicized scandal of Emma and Nelson had an impact on the way Austen chose to portray the navy, sexual misconduct and sexual misconduct within in the navy in Mansfield Park.

Emma Hart, later Lady Hamilton in a White Turban
George Romney
The Hunting Library, San Marino, California

Monday, 13 August 2007

Philosophical Gothic

Residents of Vancouver BC may be interested to know that in January 2008 the East Vancouver Cultural Centre will be housing the Catalyst Theatre's very well received production of Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was published in 1818. The production is an original and faithful adaptation by Jonathan Christenson.

Photo by Photomagic featuring Tracey Penner

Friday, 10 August 2007

Books on Tape Techie Time: iTunesU Podcasts

Life can be so sweet when you least expect it. It's not as if I was having a boring Friday night but certainly it was well behaved. While we here at Chez Old Grey Pony were relaxing on the sofa, eating spaghetti, listening to music and gleefully playing with our facebook pages, we couldn't help but wistfully think of our more cashed up acquaintances drinking wine and eating tapas on a restaurant patio somewhere late into the summer evening. But, ours is the fate of all who must pay off student loans and I cheerfully sat down to stroll through my iTunes podcast menu while the blueberry muffins we were baking were in the oven.

Little did I expect to come across The Greatest Podcast of All Time.

iTunesU features a brand new selection of free podcasts created and published by universities for their students and the Lit2Go (love the name) cast created by the University of South Florida is phenomenal and includes, among many others, a fantastic reading of Sense and Sensibility in the Group 9 collection and Northanger Abbey in the Group 12 collection. I don't know who the narrator is but his voice and his style of reading are excellent and it's very refreshing to listen to an Austen novel read by a male narrator for a change, and who is much more talented at reading than some of the actors narrating purchasable titles.

Lit2Go is very exciting and features many classics, too many to mention here but a quick look reveals several Georgian and Austen related works, including:

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Castles of Athlin and Dublayne by Ann Radcliffe

Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

The Purple Jar by Maria Edgeworth

There are so many more and a quick special mention to the Brontë sisters, Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Lewis Carroll and Virginia Woolf, as well as poetry and traditional readings and also another collection En Espaňol. Nice one, University of South Florida. If you do not have iTunes already, you may download it free of charge on the Apple website.

I'm going to have a good old browse through the rest of iTunesU and a blueberry muffin.