GWtW, P&P, and Other Obsessions

Hello All,

Enjoy this lovely, lovely guest post by Elissa McKinney–known to the Instagram world as the beloved @janeaustenhumor! I am excessively excited to have her as a guest here at Pen to Paper Collections!

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My name is Eliunnamedssa McKinney, a Janeite and Iced coffee lover. I’m an introvert by nature and love spending my free time reading, cooking, taking long walks, and (#duh) watching period dramas.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that this has to be the most predictable way for me to start this post. Let’s just roll with it. 

Hey, hi, hello! My name’s Elissa, but most people call me Lue. I was born and raised in the wild spaces of the west; a farm girl with a reading addiction. 

Gone With the Wind was the book that started my affinity for Period Dramas. Rhett Butler was (and still is) my dream man. As a 19-year-old looking back at my 11-year-old self, it probably wasn’t the best story to be fantasizing about… But once I watched the movie, Clark Gable wrapped me up in his handsome mustache and there was no turning back. The summer of 2006 was spent on a make believe plantation in Georgia. A stack of hay bales was Tara. My cousin and sister were forced into being Civil War reenactors daily. They might still resent me for it, but we all got really good grades in history the next school year. You’re welcome, guys.

Now apparently, there is a limit to the number of times a “sane person” can watch Scarlett O’Hara throw a temper tantrum. For my mom, that limit had been exceeded. 

She loves the book, but if I’d quoted “Lawzy, we got to have a doctor. I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies,” one more time, I think she may have sent me to off to live on an actual plantation. 

*Enter Pride and Prejudice*

It was a typical Thursday night “girls night” at our house. Manicures, face masks, and Italian sodas were happening. I started to pull out GWtW, but my mom said that she had a new period drama for us to try… I think you can probably figure out what happened next.

English Period Drama became my thing. I couldn’t get enough. Still can’t. 

The 2005 Pride and Prejudice laid the foundation for a lifetime of Austen love. 

I read all the novels, watched most of the film adaptions, and started expressing my enthusiasm for the genre by trying out recipes, phraseology and hairstyles from my favorite works. I also began to search for other PD authors and discovered Bronte, Hardy, Gaskell, Dickens and more. To quote Henry Nobley: “…the truth is, I enjoyed stepping into history. The idea of a simpler world where love is straightforward and lasting.” #relatable

Speaking of hashtags, in 2014 I created an Instagram account to connect with other Austen fans on the world wide web (specifically those who enjoy memes). I had no idea that three years later I would have over 16,500 followers. I am so grateful to be part of a community where people can come together and share a giggle about boiled potatoes, bonnets, or Darcy’s painfully awkward proposal. Yep. I adore our little corner of the universe. Jane Austen, “My heart is, and always will be, yours.”

Sincerely, Elissa

A(nother) Quick Look at Pride and Prejudice

Hello All!

If you haven’t read enough about Jane Austen on this blog, then today is your lucky day, because I’m at it again! I was given a writing assignment in a Theatre Appreciation class that incorporated noting a work (book, movie, or play) in which two major characters were in conflict with each other and briefly describing the characters, their conflict, and the resolution. My first thought was, obviously, Pride and Prejudice! I mean, what greater, more classic example could there possibly be? It was a no-brainer. Or maybe it’s just me? Either way, I chose to write about something I love, and this was my submission:

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a perfect example of a story in which two major characters are at odds. Many adaptions and knock-offs have been created from this story over the years, but one thing remains constant: the bitter tension between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Despite the opinion of many pessimistic minds, the story is not a petty representation of hate turning to love overnight, but rather the story of gradual transformation; specifically, of learning to let go of first impressions, or even second impressions, and coming to terms with the fact that they might have been drastically distorted.

Elizabeth is a woman whose “lively, playful disposition” leads her to witty conversation and a generally good-natured aversion to those think too highly of themselves to be in good humor. Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, is too serious to enjoy himself much of the time and far too self-important to find the company of a witty girl from a middle class family the least bit pleasant, much less find her handsome. At least, that is how he seemed to be on first observation. Behind his proud façade, however, is a protective, dutiful man, whose standards in place for himself are far higher than those he holds for the people around him.

Conflict arises first when Elizabeth feels that Mr. Darcy slights her by refusing to dance with her, but this is something she can look over by simply labeling him a pompous jerk and moving on. It continues to increase, however, when she hears the false tale of a man who has been robbed of his hopes and dreams by this arrogant, selfish Mr. Darcy. It comes to a peak when she discovers that he encouraged his best friend to abandon the relationship he might have had with her dear sister. She soon becomes aware that none of his errors were without explanation; most of which encompassed his loyalty to those he cared about, she being one of them. She believes it to be too late for reconciliation but is fortunately proven wrong. A casual reader and/or watcher would quickly assign the pride to Mr. Darcy and the prejudice to Miss Elizabeth, but I believe Jane Austen intended us to look further and discover that both characters were plagued by both pride and prejudice, and had to overcome the faults in themselves before they were able to see the good in each other.

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“Why Literature?” by Mario Vargas Llosa

Happy Monday!

Due to a busy homework schedule, I’m afraid I can’t write a long, intriguing post, but I had to take a moment to tell you of an essay that I had to read for my American literature class. 

It is an work entitled “Why Literature?” by Mario Vargas Llosa and is part of a larger work, The New Republic, which I have not read, unfortunately. 

This essay so eloquently and powerfully describes the importance of literature to the past, present, and future of our society. He begins by stating a popular question: why literature? And concludes his articulate and logical answer with a plea for us all. 

I myself have a plea to you all, and that is this: Go find and read Llosa’s essay in the first moment you find to do so, and let it open your eyes and mind the way that it did mine! 

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Hello All!

Today, December 16th, 2015, is Jane Austen’s 240th birthday! I’d like to take a moment to thank her for the masterpieces she gave to the world, and everything that she has taught me through them. Including this: The best guys aren’t always the ones with the most charisma, family is the most important thing (next to finding a husband 😉 ); there is “no enjoyment like reading” and “nothing like staying at home for real comfort”; love isn’t easy, but it’s worth it; the best remedy for anything is a little witticism; you can change the world with a pen and ink; don’t shy away from having an opinion just because you’re not expected to; and “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” These are few of many. Thank you, Jane! I want to be just like you when I grow up… maybe by the time I’m 240 I’ll be half the writer you were. 🙂

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Scattered Words

I think I just realized, or rather, just truly understood the fact that a writer has not the luxury of “last words.” Their words ring forever into the future-they have no end. The marks of their pen will forever stain the minds of those who dare to examine the words that they have written. This is apparent. Consider the poets and authors that were in existence before you and I… John Keats, Lord Byron, Jane Austen, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost. Through the works of their pens, they still speak. They have never ceased to give inspiration or insight. Their voice can still be heard every time we read their writing, and even after we close the cover of a book, we still ponder what was taken in and mull over it all in our hearts and minds. We borrow and quote their words; it is as if they were standing by with creased brow, in a romantic sort of daze, imparting it themselves. I am left in awe. Perhaps I am a bit strange for finding it of such depth, but it stirs my soul and my deepest thoughts alike. Writers have no “last words.” Their words are endlessly, carelessly scattered, and I will not feign disappointment that it is so, as I doubt they would.

Romanticism and Realism in 19th Century Literature

Hello All,

Sorry for my unforgivable absence as of late. I hope this makes up for it!

Romanticism and Realism in 19th Century Literature

Literature from the nineteenth century is a collection of masterpieces. Any person reading the former phrase may assume that these masterpieces can logically be thrown into one collective group labeled “Nineteenth Century Literature.” An avid literature lover would tell you, however, that the changing of styles just after mid-century creates a literary riff between the first half and the last half of the 1800s. The former entertained the idea of Romanticism in its works and styles, while the latter was the reign of the Realists. Both the Romantic Movement and the Realism Movement took place in the same century, but the drastic differences between the two, on several levels, render it difficult to believe.

As with most literature, the literature of the Romantic Movement was a direct reflection of its creative authors. Romantics observed the world around them with detest. Looking with a careful eye, they beheld greed, frustration, poverty, and distress. (Bernbaum xxvii) Rather than indulge themselves in these ugly truths, they began what could be considered a rebellion against them, which was the Romantic Movement. Literary geniuses such as Lord Byron and John Keats chose to see beneath the surface through the eyes of passion and emotion. They abhorred the reality of their day, but looked hopefully to the future.

Literature throughout the Romantic Era was characterized most often by the subtle rejection of reality. Often, writings focused on anything but the here and now, and used symbolism, formality of speech, and heroic, uncommon characters.(“Terms and Themes”) Good over evil accompanied heart over head to paint a utopian picture of what life ought to be; full of beauty and freedom. In the words of Ernest Bernbaum, “Romanticism is not a systematic philosophy, but an intuitive faith expressed through the emotional and symbolic art of literature.” (Bernbaum xxvi) Stories were told, rather than shown, by intrusive authors who interact with their readers through direct address and questions. (“Romanticism versus Realism”) In Romantic literature, passion triumphed, honor reigned, and love conquered all.

Romanticism was influenced by the political and social happenings of its time. At the same time that romantic literature was popular, the “Era of Common Man” was at its peak in America. Furthermore, the early woman’s movement and the abolition of slavery were in full bloom. This era of Romanticism began in the same years as the French Revolution and was preceded by the American Revolution, as well as the Irish Uprising of 1798. These occurrences in history encouraged satirical poetry and rhymes concerning freedom, such as Mary Shelley’s “Ode to Liberty” (“The Culture of Rebellion…”) Romantic literature was also a reaction against the ideas of the Enlightenment Period. (“British Romanticism”) Revolution was in the air, whether against reality or oppression, if they are not one and the same.

The Realism Movement was upheld by authors who were unconcerned with what should have been and ought to be, but rather, what was. These writers were disciplined in their attempt to disclose reality. They looked around them and wrote what they saw, in spite of its ugliness and horrific effects. Well-known writers such as Leo Tolstoy and Mark Twain did not back down from the challenge of presenting the world as it was, including every ugly detail and horrific scenario. They were the messengers of truth. In revealing the inhumanity of the times, they were trying to prove how it should be changed.

Realism in 19th century literature was characterized by detailed presentation of reality. It focused directly on the here and now, and the real over the fantastic. (“Terms and Themes”) Stories of this era were shown, rather than told, by absent authors, who had no interaction with their readers. Life was vividly depicted through the words of these authors, as they spoke of everyday characters doing everyday things, who were in control of their own destiny, but fought against reality itself. Dialogue matched that of the characters spoken of, and greed, lust, confusion, and labor were common issues to be dealt with. (“Romanticism versus Realism”) Idealization was set aside and reality was placed in its stead.

The state of society in the Era of Realism greatly affected the literary works it produced. Just after the Civil War in America, people were, unfortunately, forced to be aware of just how ugly reality was. It was in this time, that the Realism produced was a reaction against the Romanticism before it.  It was not long before the “Gilded Age”, as it was labeled by Mark Twain, was making an appearance. It was a time of unacceptable social issues, covered by a thin layer of false success. (“Terms and Themes”) Realism was a reflection of the urbanization and industrialization of this period in time, corrupted by harsh child labor and atrocious working conditions. In a society where people were afraid to speak out, Realism brought awareness.

The nineteenth century is home for both the Romanticism and the Realism Movements, thus a casual observer would not assume the radical differences which exist between the two. These differences were results of the differences in authors. Dissimilarity of writers brought about a major variation in characteristics. Social and Political conditions were also a major factor in the literary results of these movements. Both had great value in the world at the time and in the future. Romantic or Realist in style, the literature of the 19th century is not to be overlooked.

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Citations:

“Romanticism versus Realism.” Romanticism versus Realism. Web. 29 Sept. 2015. <http://www.macalester.edu/~hammarberg/russ251/romreal.html&gt;. 

“Romanticism, Realism and Naturalism.” Romanticism, Realism and Naturalism. Web. 29 Sept. 2015. <http://www.luc.edu/faculty/cschei1/teach/rrn.html&gt;.

 “British Romanticism.” British Romanticism. Web. 20 Oct. 2015. <https://faculty.unlv.edu/kirschen/handouts/british_romanticism.html&gt;.

“The Culture of Rebellion in the Romantic Era.” The Culture of Rebellion in the Romantic Era. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.<http://web.utk.edu/~gerard/romanticpolitics/rebellion.html&gt;.

“Terms & Themes.” Terms & Themes. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.<http://coursesite.uhcl.edu/HSH/Whitec/terms/R/Realism.htm&gt;.

Bernbaum, Ernest. Anthology of Romanticism. 3rd ed. Ronald, 1948. Print.