February 2021 meeting: A games afternoon

February 22, 2021

After a more than usually tough twelve months – not all of it being due to COVID-19 – we decided to start 2021 with something a bit lighthearted, and what can be more lighthearted than games?

Now, we are currently venue-challenged as our old venue, the National Library’s Friends’ lounge, is no longer open on the weekends. Will they reopen it on weekends once COVID-19 is under good control? We don’t know. Anyhow, we tried something different this month, and met under the trees at the Oaks Brasserie in one of Canberra’s older suburbs, Yarralumla. It worked so nicely that we’ve decided to do it again next month.

So, the meeting. We reversed our usual agenda order – partly because, being at a cafe, we felt we should start our meeting with coffee and cake rather than ending that way. We decided to do our usual end-of-meeting quiz and guess-the-quote challenges while we were imbibing. Quizmaster Anna put together an excellent quiz on the theme of games, drawing her ideas from a blog post she found, titled Card games in Jane Austen novels, on the Jane Austen Society of New Zealand website. Anna value-added the answers by sharing from the blog how Austen used the games to illuminate characters, to move her plots along and/or develop her themes. We’ve had some good quizmasters for our group over the years, and Anna is proving herself to be well up to the task set by her predecessors.

As usual, most of the quotes needed a lot of hints and guesses before they were identified. We often wonder how we can call ourselves fans given how often the quotes challenge us, but we keep trying.

For this meeting, Anna was also our games master, and had brought along two games for us to try. We got ourselves into the mood by starting with a bit of Tarot fun, using A Jane Austen Tarot Deck. What was forecast in the cafe stays in the cafe, but let’s just say we all found something to ponder in the cards!

Next up was the game that we’d all come for, a card game titled Marrying Mr Darcy. After all, who doesn’t want to marry Mr Darcy? For game aficionados it falls, apparently, into the “role-playing” group of games. Each player takes on the part of one of the eligible female characters from Pride and Prejudice. The aim is to improve themselves to attract the available suitors. This is done by playing “Event” cards. The game is divided into two parts: the Courtship Stage and the Proposal Stage.

It is not a simple game, but it was a hoot to play – and occasionally we even thought about how the “events” actually related to the book! Most of the time though we were concentrating too hard on how to play the game and avoiding having to marry Mr Wickham.

You can read more about the game on its dedicated website.

I’m not sure that we played the game with a great deal of finesse, but there are worse ways to spend your time than sitting under the trees on a warm summer afternoon with a bunch of people who share the same passion as you. I think all the members who attended would agree!

Roll on 2021 … we are off to a nice start.

And now for a bit of fun, Gnooks!

March 8, 2010

According to its Home Page, Gnooks is  “a self-adapting community system based on the gnod engine.” In it, they say, you can “discover new writers you will like, travel the map of literature and discuss your favorite books and authors”.

Try going to the Literature Map. Type in your favourite author, like, oh, just for the fun of it, Jane Austen – and check out the result. What you are supposed to get is a “map” of authors you are likely to like (given, that is, you like the author you typed in). The closer an author is on the map to the author you typed in, the more likely it is, they say, that you will like that author. The idea is that this might introduce you to some writers you haven’t read.  The Jane Austen map isn’t bad, as these things go. It “suggests” writers like the Brontes, Margaret Atwood, and Edith Wharton, though the “nearest” author by my reading of the map is Agatha Christie! Hmmm… What, I think the “map” doesn’t give enough weight to is Austen’s wit – though some witty writers do make the map. It appears to give more weight to subject matter – women, and more widely societal pressures – and geography than to the more abstract stylistic things. Still, Gnooks could be a fun thing to while away some time on a rainy afternoon or an insomniac night. Have a look…

Oh, and there are maps for Movies and Music as well.

(Thanks to ANZLitLovers for bringing this to my attention)

Jane Austen and Mary Crawford – which is which?

February 1, 2010

Emily Auerbach in Searching for Jane Austen states that “Austen gives Mary Crawford the breezy tone and sharp bite of her own letters” and asks  “Which of the following is from an Austen letter and which is a remark by Mary Crawford?”:

“What a difference a vowel makes? If his rents were but equal to his rants.”

“It is a vile world, we are all for self and I expect no better from of us. But though Better is not to be expected, Butter may, at least from Mrs Clements cow”

“Expect an agreeable letter; for not being overburdened with subject – (having nothing at all to say)- I shall have no check to my genius from beginning to end”.

“It is impossible to put an hundredth part of my great mind on paper”.

Its not too difficult but a very interesting comparison.