Deborah Yaffe

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Kicking off the Austen Catch-Up Project

By Deborah Yaffe, Jan 4 2016 02:00PM

The first days of the new year are a time for bracing confessions of inadequacy, so here’s (one of) mine: I’m a lazy Janeite.


Every month or two, I notice a glowing review of a newly released Austen-related book, and I think, “I should buy that.” Or a Janeite acquaintance mentions the insights she gleaned from a classic work of criticism, and I think, “I really should have read that.” Or my Google alert tosses up a link to an obscure Austen-themed game or puzzle or straight-to-video adaptation, and I think, “That sounds fun. I should check it out.”


And then life -- with its laundry and its work deadlines and its tempting romance novels -- intervenes, and I never get around to any of it.


But now it is 2016! The air is fresh! The slate is clean! I will do better! And to ensure that this time I really will, I’m putting my private resolutions into bloggily public form and announcing my year-long Austen Catch-Up Project.


Subject to change, it’s going to go something like this, with blogs to announce my results along the way:

Jane Austen on film: Starting slow. . .

January: Watch “Austentatious” (TV show) (reviewed here)

February: Read As If! The Oral History of Clueless (2015), by Jen Chaney (reviewed here)


Jane Austen’s life: Biographies I meant to read but never did

March: Read Jane Austen: A Biography (1938), by Elizabeth Jenkins (reviewed here)

April: Read The Life of Jane Austen (1984), by John Halperin (reviewed here)


Jane Austen’s times: History I really should know more about

May: Read Jane Austen’s England: Daily Life in the Georgian and Regency Periods (2013), by Roy and Lesley Adkins (reviewed here)

June: Read In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815 (2015), by Jenny Uglow (reviewed here)


Jane Austen fanfic: Because it’s summer

July: Read Mrs. Bennet Has Her Say (2015), by Jane Juska (reviewed here)

August: Read The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen (2015), by Collins Hemingway (reviewed here)


Jane Austen criticism: Scholarly works I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t read

September: Read Jane Austen’s Philosophy of the Virtues (2005), by Sarah Emsley (reviewed here)

October: Read A Revolution Almost Beyond Expression: Jane Austen’s Persuasion (2007), by Jocelyn Harris (reviewed here)


Jane Austen miscellany: Because it’s holiday time

November: Play "Marrying Mr. Darcy: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game" (reviewed here)

December: Cook a meal from The Jane Austen Cookbook (2002), by Maggie Black and Deirdre LeFaye (reviewed here)


Even for as lazy a Janeite as I, reading nine books, watching a TV series, cooking a meal and playing a card game -- all in the course of a year -- shouldn't be that hard, right? Of course, along the way I'll undoubtedly rack up more AustenDebt, in books unread, shows unviewed and games unplayed -- but then there's always 2017. . .


4 comments
Jan 5 2016 12:12AM by Maureen O'Connor

Very ambitious for sure. I really enjoyed - and continue to go back to -- "Jane Austen's England:Daily life in Georgian & Regency Periods. Shows what real life was like for the vast majority of people at that time. Good luck - I guess multitasking - i.e. watch videos whilst preparing meals, doing laundry, etc.
Happy New Year.

Jan 5 2016 01:05AM by dyaffe

Thanks, Maureen -- I'm glad to get a good review for at least one of the items on my to-do list!

Jan 5 2016 03:17PM by Sarah Emsley

The Year of Emma is a great time to draw up an ambitious reading list. I like this one very much, Deborah, and I'll be interested to read your thoughts on all of these. Not sure if I can stand the suspense, though, while I wait to hear what you think of my book! All the same, I like that you chose September, because that's when the book was published (and also because Sept. 8th is International Literacy Day, and my birthday).

Jan 5 2016 03:22PM by dyaffe

Well, Sarah, at least by the time I see you at the next JASNA AGM I will no longer be worrying that you're going to ask me if I've read it. :-) Besides, I've heard it's excellent, so I'm looking forward to it.

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