Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Love and Freindship by Jane Austen // Going Mad is Better Than Fainting

First off, I did not misspell the title. This is Austen's original spelling, so I thought I'd keep it, even though the cover below corrects it. The edition I read (the free Kindle one) kept all of Austen's original strange spellings and sometimes lack of punctuation.

How nice to read a short book in one day, after reading the long, yet unfinished saga of Westeros!

Love and Freindship is a short novelette composed of letters from Laura to her best friend's daughter, explaining to her the "Misfortunes and Adventures" she has experienced.
It is obviously one of Austen's younger works - her writing style has clearly not yet developed. Scenes are sometimes abrupt and short, and a few of the characters are never properly developed. There are some forced scenes, but that is mostly for comedic effect, as in one where Laura, her friend Sophia, and two random fellows that just happened to walk in all happen to be the grandchildren of a random old gentleman that is there as well, by his four different daughters. WHAT??

The whole book is obviously a parody of the concept of "sensibility" - the over-the-top response to any emotional influences. According to this parody, if anything unpleasingly startling occurs, the logical thing to do is to faint on the sofa (obviously). If your husband is trapped under a fallen carriage, the correct course of action is this:
1. Run up to the carriage screaming.
2. Implore him not to die, and with heartfelt words inquire how he came to be in this part of the country.
3. Choose one of two courses of action. (a) Faint (duh) or (b) go mad.
We learn by the end of the book that it is more beneficial to your health to choose (b) and go mad, because then you are actually exersizing by all that activity that being mad requires. If you faint on the cold ground (especially if you faint repeatedly), you are more liable to get a consumption and perish of it.
"Beware of fainting fits... Though at the time they may be refreshing and agreeable yet belieive me they will, in the end, if too often repeated and at improper seasons, prove destructive to your Constitution... Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint - "
Another course of action that "sensibility" requires is that you completely, unfailingly, and utterly go against your father's wishes, whatever they may be. He quite obviously does not know what is best for you, and even if you love the girl he wants you to marry, it would be a disgrace to your "sensibility" if you did. So what you do is you "gracefully purloin" all his money (because it is rightfully yours - you need it to do grand things with!) and go off to find yourself a wife.
My Father ... insisted on my giving my hand to Lady Dorothea. No never exclaimed I. Lady Dorothea is lovely and Engaging; I prefer no woman to her; but know Sir, that I scorn to marry her in compliance with your wishes. No! Never shall it be said that I obliged my Father.
I found this short book to be a nice little adventure and extremely funny. Almost every sentence is another comment on the stupidity of sensibility. You can see how this book was the precursor to the more serious Sense and Sensibility, which is also a comment on the same topic.

To conclude, some more of my favorite quotes. If I could, I would actually post the whole book here, as One Big Favorite Quote, but it's easier to just tell you to read it.
My Father started - "What noise is that," (said he.) "It sounds like a loud rapping at the door" - (replied my mother.) "it does indeed." (cried I.) "I am of your opinion; (said my Father) it certainly does appear to proceed from some uncommon violence exerted against our unoffending door." "Yes (exclaimed I) I cannot help thinking it must be somebody who knocks for admittance." "That is another point (replied he;) We must not pretend to determine of what motive the person may knock - tho' that someone DOES rap at the door, I am partly convinced."
Convinced as you must be from what I have already told you concerning Augustus and Sophia, that there never were a happier Couple, I need not I imagine, inform you that their union had  been contrary to the inclinations of their Cruel and Mercenery Parents; who had vainly endeavored with obstinate Perseverance to force them into a Marriage with those whom they had ever abhorred; but with a Heroic fortitude worthy to be related and admired, they had both, constantly refused to submit to such despotic Power.

Postscript: I am generally not going to be writing reviews of the books I read through this Jane Austen "marathon," but for the first two I thought I would, because they are less well known. For the other six, I'll make some combined posts where I discuss Austen's works as a whole.


  1. I love this story. It was actually the first work I read by Austen. :-)

    1. Really? It is a good introduction to her works - which is why I'm trying to read her books in the approximate order she wrote them... I'll be able to see her development as a writer.
      I just have Emma and Persuasion left - but the Austen project got put on hold for the Tale of Two Cities readalong. :-)



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