Where Memory meets Therapy and lives happily every after.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
overeverything; or, the side effects of reading Jane Austen (both dangerous and otherwise)
Now that I am fully engaged in re-reading Jane Austen, I am finding myself altered. The way that I speak, the way I see the world, the tenor of my cravings and desires: all are changed.
My sentences--spoken and written--are elongated and extended, they are longer and lusher; my words are enveloped in a slow languishing diction that rolls off my toungue like honey or molasses rather than my usual deluge pantingly spat out as quickly as linguistically possible. I choose words that are longer and more full: approbation, midsummer, unconcern, supplication. And, of course, everything is overthis-or-overthat. No, I do not mean that I am suffering from an onset of ennui or apathy. I am not as kids say "over it" in the sense that I am over everything in that I no longer care; no, instead, I am overtired, overhungry, overexcited...overeverything. The five mile drive from my home to the college is no longer "too far," it is, "overfar." The muffins I baked this morning are not "too moist," they are, "overmoist." I cannot point to exact Austen phrases that encourages this linguistic shift, but, I do know that is an occaision which always coincides with reading of Austen. And really, while I do not mind this alteration in vocabulary, it must be noted that my students are not overjoyed.
Another, side effect is that I also find myself craving tea and scones; well, technically speaking I crave any and all hot drinks and baked goods really. As a woman who is constantly trying to eat healthier, the plus side to these particular Austenesque cravings is that I want to dress up in long white muslin empire waisted gowns and walk 2 miles to my neighbor's house to imbibe said tea and scones. The downside is that often these indulgences come sans said lush 2 mile walk and thus result in only a plus backside. I do have a walking trail near my house, but there is something delicious about the idea of the lush, green, grassy knolls in Austen books and films that I can't find anywhere near me. American gardens and lawns are considered to be impeccable only when trimmed neatly down to their nubs. Many more English gardens, especially those in the country, tend to be wilder, verdant, with grass grown long enough beneath your feet that it seems to undulate with your movements. Ah, the differences between what we want and what we settle for, now, that is something Austen knows very well.
But for me, there is a danger that goes beyond words and walks. While, the formality of Austen makes her seem quite safe, for a single woman in want of a life she can disrupt even the most steadfast. Her books are rife with calling cards, social visits, matchmaking, promises, and romance; even in the most satisfied of hearts this much society and romantic intrigue can stir longing for a passionate, if very polite, intrigue. Oh, damn you Jane Austen for making me crave the dangers of love again, after working so hard on recovering from my last foray...Hmm, maybe I'll just settle for a very long walk and some very hot tea.
I am only on Sense and Sensibilty and there are many more Austen novels to go, so I'll read. I'll say my silly Austen words. I'll drink coffee and eat a muffin. I'll walk on the paved river trail next to a carefully manicured lawn while trying to think of ways to use approbation and disapprobation in a sentence. And, for now, that will have to be enough. For now.