With exquisite timing, I have caught the virus that my son and his girlfriend brought back from the Reading music festival. It began with 36 hours of the worst neuralgia I’ve ever had, and then mutated into your more average fluey-virus-thing. So, the writing course begins its first week without much input from me so far, my son cheerfully plays computer games and catches up with his friends but packs no bags before his departure to university this weekend, and I have still to catch up with comments on your blogs and emails and all the other things I really need to be doing. Please bear with me – I hope very much to at least post something here before the end of the week as there are already things I’d like to tell you about the writing course.

All I’ve managed to do so far is listen to the first third or so of Jane Austen’s Emma. I’ve reached the part where Frank Churchill comes to stay and is already leading Emma astray by tempting her into being rude about local people, and especially into taking her envy of Jane Fairfax out in conversation about her. It is so well observed by Austen that the scene is almost painful. But it only makes me more convinced that the marriage between Emma and Knightley is doomed to be an unhappy one. It’s a marriage to satisfy the superego – Emma takes it as punishment for having been so silly and egotistical, and Knightley, who has always enjoyed reprimanding her, wins a lifetime to do more of the same. But given that people don’t change, or not as intrinsically as that, they cannot make one another happy. Emma is too fond of her own flaws and far too much in need of validation to be satisfied by stern, critical George Knightley. And Knightley is going to find himself married to a woman who can’t help but meddle and gossip and behave in ways he will ultimately find very trying, not least because she will have failed to heed his firmly stated advice. He’s a man who will require perfect obedience, and Emma is far too stubbornly self-willed and used to having her own way. It’s intriguing how Austen makes it work out so optimistically on paper, though I feel it’s the good girl part of her getting somewhat out of control. It comes from thinking the best of her characters, I feel sure.

And in the absence of anything more sensible from me, I’m hoping to be able to send you the link to a short video that came from my nephew via his mother, Mr Litlove’s sister, and which I found most entertaining. If you like French films, cats or existential despair, you’ll love this.

43 thoughts on “Bleugh

  1. I hope you feel better soon. You have my sympathies. my teen completed her first week at A level college and has gone down with glandular fever. Today I have started to feel under the weather with my usual headache and possible sinusitis. It’s that time of year when the bugs enjoy doing the rounds.

  2. Your son in university already… how fast they grow. I just come back from visiting mine in Toronto… yes, time flies and they’re gone. As for Emma and Knightley, don’t you feel a little Eliza and Henry Higgins in them? Interesting that you don’t expect an amicable marriage. Always enjoy your analysis. 😉

    • Doesn’t it just? I do hope your son is having a wonderful time in Toronto. As for Emma and Knightley, yes I can sort of see the analogy, but Eliza Doolittle is saved from poverty and loneliness by Henry Higgins; he has something valuable to give her in his overbearing pedagogy. Emma has all the status and money that she needs; she already considers herself educated and accomplished. It’s the pride she has in herself that makes me wonder how long she will enjoy Knightley’s moral instruction. But of course, the joy of these things is that we’ll never really know and it’s just fun to speculate!

  3. How typical! Isn’t that always the case. You would think they would bring you back a nice tee-shirt but instead you get a virus! 🙂 (sorry–not a smiley face situation at all…). I hope you are on the mend soon–and no hurries catching up–I understand how hard it is to keep up with blogs–I have the same problem and that is when I am reasonably healthy! I started reading Emma ages ago and recently picked the book back up–but am having an awful reading week–now an audio of it sounds like a good idea! Be well!

    • Heh, no that’s very funny and true. Any other souvenir would have been nicer! (I also got a big bag of dirty washing, so perhaps I should say ‘as nice’). I really love the classics on audio book because it takes all the work out of reading them. I know I shouldn’t say such things but I always struggle with anything before the 20th century because of its length and general lack of forward motion. But I appreciate such books when I get into them, so… audio is a good solution. Thank you for your lovely wishes and we will chat more very soon!

  4. Bleugh indeed. In fact my spell check wants to change that to ‘blue ugh’ which also seems like a fairly accurate assessment. Clever things these spell checks. I’ve been meaning to ask you who you are doing your course through. I’m dying to hear about it. The Bears send their love and suggest that lots and lots of honey would be a good idea. But then they always think lots and lots of honey is a good idea.

    • Oh the Bears are darlings, as always. The course is through the Creative Non-Fiction site/magazine run by Lee Gutkind. It’s a well organised course and pretty slick so far, and I will definitely be giving updates. That spell check correction is funny. I have a cousin who claims that spell check wants to change his name to Iguana Boost, but that may just be mythologising.

  5. So sorry to hear that you are a victim of the family plague…and it’s completely *insane* that your son is university age. I agree with you that Emma and Knightley are doomed to end badly, unless they convert that scolding/naughty girl dynamic into some curious BDSM-ish sex game. That will probably be next in the fan fiction genre.

    • LOL! What’s the betting that some similar book is in production right now? Yes, thank you it IS insane that I have a son of university age. Do bear in mind that I was a child bride. 🙂

  6. Oh dear, feel much much better, you poor thing!

    I’m rereading Emma currently too and thinking about how much Austen dislikes fun guys in all her books except Northanger Abbey. The cheerfulness always turns out to be flightiness and/or weakness of character, and the heroines end up with the serious fellows. All but Catherine Morland.

    • Thank you, dear Jenny. And what a great coincidence about Emma. You are so right about Austen’s heroes though I had never thought about it before. That does explain why I love Henry Tierney so – he is the only jolly one of the bunch!

  7. Hope you feel better soon. That video was hilarious, I am still giggling.

    So you predict a doomed marriage for Emma and Knightly? Surely this is the virus affecting your head! Just kidding. : ) Austen never concerned herself with sequels, so we’ll never know. Just tell me you do believe that Elizabeth and Darcy had a blissful union and all will be forgiven.

    • Ha, you know I considered at one point doing a post on all the Austen marriages, but then when I thought of Pride & Prejudice I though, no, that’s sacrosanct and there’s nothing I could possibly dare to say about it. So please forgive me – I will leave Elizabeth and Darcy to their happy ever after. 🙂 And so glad you enjoyed Henri – I just love it.

  8. Oh Henri, I love you! I wish you would visit us and teach our thuggish Mister Puss some sensitivity.

    I’m so sorry you’ve been feeling so ill, hope you are better soon. I enjoyed your analysis of Emma and Mr Knightley’s future prospects: I’ve always felt more optimistic for them, since they both seem to respect and like each other a great deal, but then perhaps I’ve allowed Jane and my own desire for happy endings to persuade me too easily.

    • This comment keeps making me laugh! ‘Thuggish’ is SUCH a brilliant term. Even if it may be a tad hard to live with. I’m always open to being swayed in my analysis and there’s absolutely nothing wrong in wanting those happy endings; I do, too. They definitely respect one another, that’s very true, and who knows how many marriages have survived with less!

    • Aw thank you, (Pete!). Do you know, the French seems really, really odd to me. But it’s been a while since I actually heard any live French so maybe my ear is shot? I would love a French person to tell me if it’s peculiar or not (she says encouragingly). Big hugs (disinfected) to you.

  9. Get well soon. Great video. Hope all goes well for your son. Knightley locks Emma in the attic with a virtual game of invent your own version of life and pursues Jane Fairfax Eyre who has come to nurse Mr Woodhouse as he faffs on creating ennui for all time.

    • Lol! Love it! Will you do that with any classic I mention? What if I said Middlemarch? Or A Tale of Two Cities? What a fun game that would be! Son went off to university today, so I’m thinking your daughter must be off soon, too. Let me know how she gets on, won’t you?

  10. Oh no! I had hopes that you had missed the virus. Hope you feel better soon. I agree with you about Emma and Mr. Knightley, not sure how they will ever get on together as a married couple. Loved the cat film!

    • Yay, vindication! And I thought about you (and Danielle) as I posted the video clip as fellow bookish catty people. 🙂 It just keeps cracking me up and is providing very good medicine!

  11. I read your take on Emma with interest. As I’m just going through a major Austen pahse, finishing all her novels, reading her biography, looking back I’m far less keen on Emma who seesm to be liked by so many than by Fanny Price, the delicate over sensitive.
    Get well soon.

    • That’s so interesting. I’m tempted to see that as the introvert/extrovert divide. Bubbly, sociable Emma is seen as more likeable that shy, retiring Fanny, despite the way she behaves. I have to confess that Mansfield Park is the Austen I’ve yet to read. I keep sort of saving it up, though I’d like to get to it, too.

      • I was pretty sure you have not read it because I thought you would have made the compariosn. I think like me you will sympathize a lot with Fanny. She’s highly sensitive, anxious, very shy and a real introvert.

  12. Hope you are feeling better now. I’ve always thought that Mr Knightley is sexually attractive to Emma and as, such, will tame her. I read somewhere that Austen planned for her characters beyond the end of the novel and had said that Jane Fairfax would not live many years after her marriage. Sad.

    • Ooh that’s a very interesting take on the Emma/Knightley marriage, I like it. But poor Jane Fairfax. She is definitely a woman created determinedly by Austen not to have much luck.

  13. I couldn’t agree more with you about Emma and Knightley! In Margaret Drabble’s The Garrick Year, her heroine writes about the dreadful matches in Austen. I love Emma, but, honestly, the only Austen hero I like is Captain Wentworth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s