Monday, 3 January 2011

Oh, Mr Knightley

I've been re-reading Emma and dipping into A Truth Universally Acknowledged, a collection of essays edited by Susannah Carson. Alain de Botton's thoughts on Austen's novels strike me as particularly perceptive:
These are books that speak to us of our own lives with a clarity we cannot match.
Thus Jane Fairfax's secret smile of delight at the new pianoforte, Frank Churchill's laughingly spelling out the word BLUNDER in the alphabet game and Mr Knightley's glorious 'if I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more' speech to Emma could all be happening right now.
Happy New Year!

15 comments:

LifetimeReader said...

Ooh--must go look up the Carson immediately! Yes, it is all so immediate and real to me in Emma--but I couldn't decide if that is because I understood Emma before I understood real romance, or if it is just true.

bookssnob said...

I LOVE MR KNIGHTLEY! Emma is my tied favourite Austen and I envy you re-reading it. I feel the same about Austen - her novels are so true, so immediate, that they speak to you in a way no others can. I adore them. If only I had brought my Austens to New York with me!

Steph said...

Oh, Mr. Knightley indeed! Such a great hero, and I love his "if I loved you less" speech so very much!

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

I fell in love with Mr. Knightley when I was I fourteen and I don't think anyone has ever come close to eclipsing him in my affections since! I loved the Carson book but it definitely made me want to reread all my Austen books immediately afterwards.

Carolyn said...

I've definitely grown fonder of Mr. Knightley over the years, as he seems less like a father figure! Also, I saw your comment on Rachel's blog about not being able to join in on Virago week because you're reading Austen but... all of Austen's novels have been published by Virago Modern Classics, so you're not off the hook yet! ;)

Annie said...

I had a terrible introduction to 'Emma'. It was one of my set texts for A Level and the teacher we had was so appalling it took me almost a year to read it. It became a family joke. Now though I can read it with with greater pleasure and Mr Knightly has even replaced Darcy in my affections. I haven't come across the Carson, but as one of the things I would like to do this year is read more 'bookish' essays I shall look it out straight away. Thank you.

Eva said...

That essay collection sounds fascinating! I very much enjoy de Botton's writing. :)

Also, squee for that speech of Knightley's.

Maggie said...

I found you via Lilac, and am so glad I did as I am about to look at all the bookish links... a lovely way to pass half an hour on a cold, grey, damp and dark winters morning.
I am currently following a new year intention to read a classic a month, not the usual Austens and Dickens etc., though my first was Thomas Hardy, but more modern ones, like Muriel Spark, Fitzgerald and so on.

StuckInABook said...

I have the Carson waiting... but I must confess I find Mr. Knightley creepy rather than romantic.

Mae said...

I'm reading Emma at the moment but, to be honest, I'm struggling with it. This is the third (i think) attempt to read it. I'm at a lost to think why I'm struggling when I zipped through the other Austen's I've read!

potter jotter said...

Mr Knightly over Mr Darcy everytime for me. Though, as a book, I prefer P&P to Emma.

Shelley said...

I'm always looking for essays, so thanks for the idea.

I just watched the...is it 2009?...version of Emma, and I wanted to say that I liked it especially for one scene in which the camera lingers on the face of Miss Bates. For a moment we get a glimpse of what her life is like from the inside out. Her figure is tragic as well as comic.

Lilacs In May said...

Mr Knightly seemed to me like a father figure indulging his daughter. Did I miss the passion? I need to reread, it's been too long.

Vintage Reading said...

LifetimeReader, the Carson is an excellent book of essays. Interesting what you say about real romance, you kind of think Austen must have experienced it hereself.

booksnob, I know you love Mr K, too! Which is your other favourite?

Steph, that speech gets me every time.

Claire, Mr K is closely followed by Captain Wentworth. I can day or leave Mr Darcy!

Carolyn - oops didn't realise VMC had published all of Austen - careless of me but a perfect excuse to re-read.

Annie, I have to say I wasn't mature enough to tackle Emma at school. I would highly recommend the Carson - it must be due out in paperback, soon.

Eva, I'd like to read more de Botton. Very perceptive essay.

Maggie, thanks for dropping by. I like the sound of your reading plan. I'm stuck in an Austen phase right now and who can say when it will end?!!

StuckinaBook, really? Is it the age difference? I'll be looking out for your review on the Carson.

Mae, maybe you will come to Emma in a few years and enjoy it? Fingers crossed!

potterjotter, I love P&P, but I can take or leave Darcy. There's a beautiful new annotated P&P coming out but a little out of my budget!

Shelley, in one of the Carson essays somebody makes the point that Austen would have identified more with the life of Miss Bates, a mature single woman who is penniless, than she would with the life of Emma, a rich heiress. Very poignant.

LilacsinMay, I think the age difference between Emma and Mr K is 16 years, assuming he is 37 to her 21, so yes, I suppose he is a father figure. I wonder if that was a typical age gap during the Regency?

StuckInABook said...

I think it is the age difference... but mostly because their relationship seems SO much a paternal-filial one, rather than a lover one. Or perhaps brother/sister ("We are not too much brother and sister[...]?" seemed to me like Jane Austen saying "Yes, you are!")

And... am I right in thinking that, somewhere around the proposal, he mentions having held her in his arms as a baby? NOT romantic!