“Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?”

22 Feb

I finally managed to go see the show A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy, with 3 weeks left before closing at the Morgan Library this past weekend. Of over 3,000 letters that Jane ( I feel I can call her by her first name) is assumed to have written, 160 survived. The Morgan has 51 of them in their collection. Along with letters to her sister Cassandra, her favorite correspondent, the show also displayed pages of her unfinished manuscript The Watsons; first editions of her novels; various illustrations; as well as some works from her contemporaries. This was why the exhibit was so enjoyable, you were able to view her work in the context of the world she lived. You gained insight to what informed her work and the influences her contemporaries had upon her. For example, we all know how important dances for socialization are in Jane’s novels but I always wondered how every one knew the latest ones. An answer to my question was on display, a book by Thomas Wilson that must have been in wide circulation, its title ” An Analysis of Country Dancing, where in all the figures used in polite amusement are rendered familiar by Engraved Lines” (published 1811). Most importantly, A Woman’s Wit delved into Jane Austen as a person and allows her ardent admirers to have a chance at knowing her wit through a facet other than the pages of Pride and Prejudice.

A letter to Cassandra, from the Morgan's online exhibit of the letters


One Response to ““Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?””

  1. Dana February 22, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

    What about the part where we spent half of the time eating in the cafe, enjoying mushroom tarts and surprisingly good macaroons?

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