Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dear Miss Jane

(I know a good many of you read "Ink and Fairydust" but just in case you don't, I wanted to make sure you got a chance to see my editorial from this month. I think it'll bring you a laugh or two. ;) )

Dear Miss Jane,

My sister is wondering if you have ever time traveled.

Yes, I know it seems an outlandish suggestion for a proper vicar's daughter like yourself to go waltzing through time, defying who knows what laws of science and physics. Yet really, how else could your books be just as relevant today as they were when you wrote them?

You see, I'm quite certain you met Marianne Dashwood in the 21st century. Of course, living in the 1800's as you do, you couldn't write her as a goth with dark make-up and a tenancy to cut herself after Willoughby left. But, really, are you sure you didn't meet her in the high school group I grew up in?

I also can't believe you didn't meet Catherine Morland now as well. For I have a sneaking suspicion that she is not reading "Udolpho" but rather "Twilight" and that only the absence of "Dracula" on the printing presses of your day kept you from clarifying that what Catherine really believed was that Northanger Abbey was actually a vampire's lair.

And what of Anne Elliot? Even with the shortage of men caused by the Napoleanic wars in your own times, how could you possibly know that the marriageable age for women would rise into the mid-twenties and beyond, so that "Persuasion" has become an increasingly beloved book for the twenty-five and older young women who spend their years increasingly frustrated over their mishaps and mistakes in love?

Some of us even have a sneaking suspicion that you based Emma Woodhouse on myself, for I too love to improve and control the lives of others (with the best intentions, I assure you!) and find the most important men in my life taking on the role of the wise and patient Mr. Knightley.

I know Jane Bennets, sweet and kind and forgiving; and Elinor Dashwoods, practical and prudent; and have seen many girls that are reminiscent of your dear, charming Lizzie Bennet, whom you declared the most delightful creature to ever enter a book. I quite agree.

Even your men are still around today, though somewhat harder to find. I think perhaps we tend to love them too dearly, and not, perhaps, notice as you do that Edward Ferrers is struggling with finding his purpose in life, and that Mr. Darcy would still require an endless amount of patience (and a very sanguine temperament!) to live with, or that Edmund Bertram is really the most oblivious man in existence!

No, I cannot believe that you are a citizen of only one time and place. Surely you must have visited us, at least, and walked among my friends and talked to the many people who influenced my life. Then you must have returned to your quiet writing table in your little cottage in Hampshire and pulled all of us into your stories - having enormous fun renaming us in the process.

I think I can only thank you for treating us as kindly as you have, and showing us how we may improve those faults which to use seem to grievous, and entertain us greatly in the meanwhile.

Miss Jane - I salute you. And I keep my eyes open, hoping that someday I'll see you watching me from around the corner, determining the end of that unfinished "Sandition" or "The Watsons" and creating a new story for us to love.

Most Sincerely,


(Yes, "Miss Jane" is the correct terminology here. The eldest daughter of the family was always the "Miss Last-Name" and the younger daughters were "Miss First-Name". So Jane would have been "Miss Jane" and her elder sister Cassandra would have been "Miss Austen.")


Delaney said...

As I've said before, I love this. It just makes me smile every time I read it.

Nonexistant anymore said...

Very true! And wittingly written as well. Sadly I haven't read all of Miss Jane's work, so I don't know about Catherine Morland or Edmund Bertram, but I certainly agree about the others. Very delightful letter.