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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Monday, January 2, 2017

Galigai, St. Swithin, & Diana Parker: the dying Jane Austen’s ambition for immortality & gender justice

I am VERY pleased and honored to announce that the 2017 JASNA AGM Steering Committee has notified me that I am one of the lucky ones who will get to deliver a breakout session talk in Huntington Beach, CA at the AGM that will run from Oct. 6-8, 2017!!!!

By the way, if you want to go, rooms at the beachfront hotel where it will be held are going to go very fast, based on past experience, so go here and reserve your room now:

This will be my third AGM presentation (2010 in Portland, OR and 2014 in Montreal), and I will be counting the days (277 to be exact) till it starts! And finally, for those who might be interested in coming to hear my talk, here's the beginning of my blurb describing what I'll have the luxury of 40 minutes to articulate in detail:

"Galigai, St. Swithin, & Diana Parker: the dying Jane Austen’s ambition for immortality & gender justice"

Nearly all Austen biographers, following her brother Henry (“in spite of such applause, so much did she shrink from notoriety, that no accumulation of fame would have induced her, had she lived, to affix her name to any productions of her pen“) and her nephew James Edward (“little thinking of future fame, but caring only for 'the queerness and the fun’ “), would have us believe Jane didn’t reach (or even wish) for literary immortality; that she’d be shocked to learn of her still widening fame 200 years after her early death while at the peak of her powers. 

I’ve come to know a different Jane, a proud, ambitious artist; and, ironically, I find the best evidence of her proud (but well-regulated) ambition, not in her six novels, but, when physical death loomed large, in her 1817 writings, in which she thrice asserted her power and her will to survive…at least, on paper!: 

(1) in her late letter to old friend Anne Sharp (“Galigai for ever and ever, the influence of strength over weakness indeed”); 

(2) in her last fiction, the Sanditon fragment (“The world is pretty much divided between the weak of mind and the strong; between those who can act and those who cannot; and it is the bounden duty of the capable to let no opportunity of being useful escape them. My…complaints…are happily not often of a nature to threaten existence immediately. And as long as we can exert ourselves to be of use to others,...the body is the better for the refreshment the mind receives in doing its duty"); AND 

(3) in her deathbed testament, the “fanciful” “When Winchester Races” (“When once we are buried you think we are gone But behold me immortal!...Set off for your course, I'll pursue with my rain.… Henceforward I'll triumph in shewing my powers…”). 

 I’ll start there, browse the novels & letters, then circle back to her juvenilia; and show that, for her entire writing life, Jane not only wished for immortality, she grabbed for it with both (far from mouldering) hands! 

See you there, I hope!

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter 

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