Wednesday, 28 May 2008

A scene from Jane Austen

Stuck in a Book has just presented a number of his sketches from the first year of his blog, and one in particular made me laugh. Charting the number of viewers of Pride and Prejudice there was a very sharp increase when it got to the pond scene. Yes, I would have to say I agreed with him.

Anyway, the point of it was - what is your favourite scene from a novel? He chose the altercation between Lizzie and Lady Catherine. I have to say mine is a bit of a three way tie between the part in 'Middlemarch' where Will and Dorothea finally allow their love to blossom; The ending of 'Good Wives' when Jo gets her charming professor; and the scene in 'Persuasion' where Captain Wentworth declares himself.

Oh dear - I'm detecting a theme!

Here for your reading pleasure is the scene from 'Persuasion'.

'Mrs Croft left them, and Captain Wentworth, having sealed his letter
with great rapidity, was indeed ready, and had even a hurried, agitated air, which shewed impatience to be gone. Anne know not how to understand it. She had the kindest "Good morning, God bless you!" from Captain Harville, but from him not a word, nor a look! He had passed out of the room without a look!

She had only time, however, to move closer to the table where he had been writing, when footsteps were heard returning; the door opened, it was himself. He begged their pardon, but he had forgotten his gloves, and instantly crossing the room to the writing table, he drew out a letter from under the scattered paper, placed it before Anne with eyes of glowing entreaty fixed on her for a time, and hastily collecting his gloves, was again out of the room,
almost before Mrs Musgrove was aware of his being in it: the work of an instant!

The revolution which one instant had made in Anne, was almost beyond expression. The letter, with a direction hardly legible, to "Miss A. E.--," was evidently the one which he had been folding so hastily. While supposed to be writing only to Captain Benwick, he had been also addressing her! On the contents of that letter depended all which this world could do for her. Anything was possible, anything might be defied rather than suspense. Mrs Musgrove had little arrangements of her own at her own table; to their protection she must trust, and sinking into the chair which he had occupied, succeeding to the very spot where he had leaned and written, her eyes devoured the following words:

"I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart
even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

"I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never."

Such a letter was not to be soon recovered from. Half and hour's solitude and reflection might have tranquillized her; but the ten minutes only which now passed before she was interrupted, with all the restraints of her situation, could do nothing towards tranquillity. Every moment rather brought fresh agitation. It was overpowering happiness. And before she was beyond the first stage of full sensation, Charles, Mary, and Henrietta all came in.'


Juliet said...

Sigh . . . That letter is absolutely my favourite scene from any novel ever. Reading it here made me go weak all over. How am I supposed to concentrate on my work now?!?

And it's renewed my determination to acquire one of these clocks (oh and the Mrs Wentworth mug!), so I can be reminded of this passage every hour of every day.

Many thanks for this excellent diversion from what I ought to be doing!

oxford-reader said...

I know just what you mean! I can hear the words in my head 'half agony, half hope'. Sorry to have distracted you!

And oh no! My money is going to run away so fast now that I've found this! I love the top, I wish I'd known about it when I met Colin Firth!

Juliet said...

Ahah, an empty purse will be your punishment for keeping me from my work! I don't usually go for 'souvenir gift' type stuff, but I think this collection is very amusing and well designed. Enjoy!

oxford-reader said...

I think I can cope with this punishment ;)
However - it's you who found your way over here! I have an excuse in the fact that there is NOTHING to do here at the moment ... I like to lead other astry: wish I could think of a Jane Austen quote to go with that!

Peta said...


I've clearly not read Persuasion for far too long as I'd forgotten just how lovely that letter was.

oxford-reader said...

Neither had I, and reading it again makes me think that I shall have to go back on my decision not to reread anthing I've read for my reading this year!

Peta said...

Pah. Rules are made to be broken. Well. Not all of them. Just ones like that! :D

oxford-reader said...

I do agree - and anyway, I've never read Northanger Abbey! I've read half of Mansfield Park and hated it - don't know whether to give it another chance!

Peta said...

Fanny Price is by far my least favourite JA heroine. The last time I read Mansfield Park was when it was (tragically) one of my A-level set texts and I've held onto the conviction that she is a quite detestable creature ever since. I could be over-reacting of course!

I'm planning on reading all the Austens again this year, and am putting faith in time as a great healer in the case of MP. I suspect that I might leave it until last though!

oxford-reader said...

The thing was, I got about halfway and then realised I couldn't remember who the characters were, nor what had happened to them!
I miss Austen. I need to read her novels!