March 2010 meeting: Mansfield Park vol III

(Written by Marilyn)

Seven members attended what turned out to be a stimulating meeting at NLA on Saturday  20 March in which we engaged in a spirited and most enjoyable discussion of Mansfield Park part 3.

The points discussed included:

  • MP was thought by some  to be the most dark and complex of JA’s  novels. Mary Louise felt Fanny could be understood in today‘s terms as an abused person.
  • Is JA using Fanny’s refusal of Henry to explain her own refusal to marry?
  • The brother, sister and first cousin relationships are somewhat confusing or discomforting.
  • The resolution does not satisfy some, especially as Henry is presented as making strong attempts to demonstrate his love for Fanny by improving his behaviour.
  • Edmund is weakened by blaming Maria for leading him astray.
  • The resolution in which the blossomed Fanny becomes the daughter Sir Thomas never had was perhaps a revolutionary idea, as was the growth of meritocracy displayed by the naval officers (William).

Other interpretations that were discussed included:

  • the idea that the novel is about individual authenticity, which may explain the resolution since Fanny and to a large degree Edmund remain authentic to themselves throughout, while others bend and sway;
  • the idea that the novel can be read in terms of King Lear (ie the father with the three daughters, two of whom are ungrateful)
  • the notion that the novel is politically engaged, with the Mansfield Park estate being a metaphor for the state of the nation as it was under the Regency.

Business matters discussed were:

  • Sue will chair meetings (for the next while at least) and Sarah will be our contact person.
  • our Conference Presentation will concern Rakes, Rattles and the Regency, with four speakers presenting the views of the group.
  • the May meeting will take the form of a brainstorm to inform the presentations for the Conference, being mindful that Anna is enamoured with Henry Crawford!
  • the April meeting will be devoted to those letters written during the writing and publication of Mansfield Park ie those written between 1811-1814 (See here for more detail).
  • in anticipation of the Conference, our Georgette Heyer discussion will be carried out via the Blog. Click here for a list of recommended titles. Other recommendations made during the meeting include The Spanish Bride and The Infamous Army.
  • Cheng advised us of her discovery of a bookshop dedicated to the Romance  Genre, which of course includes Regency romances. The shop is Intrigue, located Level 1, Garema Centre, Bunda Street, open Tues – Fri 10-6.

What a pleasant day we spent with such a cohesive group!!!!

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