Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jane Austen's Juvenilia

Over a year ago I read a collection of Jane Austen's "Juvenilia" (I believe I read the Penguin book entitled The Juvenilia of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronteand in a separate book I read another of her  juvenile works: her facetious "History of England." Unfortunately, the book did not contain the complete collection, but it did contain some (more selective) examples of Charlotte Brontë's juvenile writing which I found to be more interesting (although, a warning, much less morally sound).

I thought volume I and II of the Austen collection ridiculous. I suppose that in this Austen poked fun at works of the Camilla type. She handled and administered her humor heavily. I do not care overmuch for that sort of ludicrous humor. I could already see for myself the extremes present in Camilla without reading of the extremes in the way Jane Austen mocked themparticularly in Love and Freindship* in which the romantic persons were rebellious and thieving and wild.

I liked volume III much better. The humor was more mild and the story more reasonable. This section reminded me of the drafts/unfinished works The Watson and Sandition although not as promising as either. The writer of the introduction to this collection of Austen's "Juvenilia" likened this work to the early draft of Pride and Prejudice, "First Impressions."

I was not familiar enough with the real kings and queens of England (pure laziness as we have a decent history of the kings and queens of England which I should have perused yet again while reading this work) to appreciate her humor (although since I think her style in this work probably resembled volume I and II in the other collection, I might not have liked it in any case).

*Everyone points out the so-called misspelling of Austen here. I am not sure that the word actually was misspelled. I do not believe  the English language had standardized spelling, punctuation and capitalization until near/during the 19th century, and I doubt standardization took immediate effect. Even if people did consider it actually misspelled in Austen's time period, do not you think it likely she did it as a joke?!

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