This blog explores social attitudes in Jane Austen's time, discusses her novels, reviews forgotten 18th century novels, and throws some occasional shade at the modern academy. The introductory post is here. My "six simple questions for academics" post is here.
She alone was sad and insignificant: she had no share in anything; she might go or stay; she might be in the midst of their noise, or retreat from it to the solitude of the East room, without being seen or missed. She could almost think anything would have been preferable to this. -- Fanny Price at her most Eeyore-ish in Mansfield Park
The East room is Fanny's refuge, her “nest of comforts,” even though it’s chilly and she has only battered school-room chairs to sit in and it’s decorated with drawings and furniture “too ill done for the drawing-room.” Here she keeps objects of sentimental value, like a sketch from her seafaring brother. She has her geraniums and her books. Fanny is a collector of books and she likes reading. As she is pacing and thinking, Edmund visits her, to tell her he plans to will relent and join the others in some private theatricals. He and Fanny both know Sir Thomas would disapprove, so Fanny can't give him her whole-hearted concurrence.
Edmund awkwardly tries to segue out of the uncomfortable disagreement by talking about her books: “[Y]ou will be taking a trip into China, I suppose. How does Lord Macartney go on?” He babbles nervously: “And here are Crabbe’s Tales, and the Idler, at hand to relieve you, if you tire of your great book. I admire your little establishment exceedingly; and as soon as I am gone, you will empty your head of all this nonsense… and sit comfortably down to your table. But do not stay here to be cold.” And poof! he’s out the door, down the stairs and down the hill to Mary Crawford at the parsonage...