'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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August 12, 2010

The heroine in her wrong-headed folly ...


A delicate, beautiful Chinese carved ivory basket, c. 1840-1860,
that I saw last weekend at Beauport.

Now that I think about it, from the title, this could be about the Georgette Heyer I just read (The Convenient Marriage - fun!), or even about The House of Mirth, which I'm planning to read soon, or about Edith Wharton herself (in the biography I'm re-reading, Henry James just referred to her marriage to Teddy as 'an almost -- or rather, an utterly -- incomprehensible thing'), but no.  I promised myself I would re-read Emma this month, and I will.  But there's an unintentional theme working here...

Before I return the Elizabeth Jenkins biography to the library (I would love to find a copy of this book for my own), I re-read the pages about Emma, just to get into the spirit.  Jenkins wrote something (well, many things) interesting:

'The structure of Emma not only exemplifies Jane Austen’s own peculiar method of showing each character in relation to all the rest; it suggests that of a Chinese ivory ball, and has an intricacy no less complicated and distinct. The heroine in her wrong-headed folly spins six separate, interlacing, circles of delusion. On this highly formalized base the characters move to and fro with a naturalness that defies description.’ '
This got me thinking about, among other things, what the six circles of delusion were, and I think I've got them.

1. Emma thinks Mr. Elton is falling in love with Harriet.

2. Emma thinks Frank Churchill is pursuing her {meaning Emma}.

3. Frank Churchill makes fun of Jane Fairfax, but is secretly engaged to her.

4. Emma thinks Harriet is in love with Frank Churchill.

5. Mrs. Weston thinks Mr. Knightley is wooing Jane Fairfax.

6. Emma does not know Mr. Knightley’s true feelings.
Writing them down here will keep me honest.  What do you think -- am I right?

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