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2016/17 Group Reads - Archives > Emma - Vol 3, Ch XII - conclusion

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message 1: by Rose (last edited Jun 19, 2016 02:26PM) (new)

Rose Rocha dos Santos (roserocha) | 42 comments Hi, everyone!

This week's reading is about: Vol 3, Chapter XII to conclusion.

Or, if you're using another version of the book: Chapter 48 to end.

So, this is the final week and here you can post anything about these chapters or about the whole book, if you want (conclusions and the link to your reviews too).

It was awesome to discuss the book with all of you! I certainly learned a lot!


message 2: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2917 comments Mod
I couldn't wait and finished the book on Monday. I am glad that things worked out for Harriet.


message 3: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2224 comments Mod
I was waiting for the end to post a wonderful story I saw from a participant in another GR group. He is maybe in his 60's and had a successful engineering career in the military and civilian sectors. He was well-educated and read a lot of history, science, etc. But he could never understand why people would waste their time with fiction, that is, silly made-up stories.

Then, a few years back, he found himself at a summer cabin with nothing to read. His college-age daughter had left behind her copy of Emma, so he started reading it. It took him a while to get used to the different style of writing, but as he read on, he was amazed how involved he got with the characters and how his emotions were affected. He said that when he got to the end he was laughing, crying and jumping around the room. He went on to read all of Jane Austen and anything similar he could find. He was a romantic at heart and never knew it.

I love this story for a couple of reasons. One is that it supports my personal view that fiction has more impact on us than nonfiction because of the emotional side. The Kite Runner gave me more interest in Afghanistan than dozens of newspaper articles. (Journalists realize this and now use a lot of fiction techniques in long-form journalism, which usually has characters, setting, plot, etc.) Some studies have shown that people who read fiction score higher on tests of empathy (although those studies have also been questioned). But I'm sure this man's experience with Emma affected how he interacted with people in his life. Just the fact that he was willing to post this to the world is remarkable.

The other charming thing about this story is that as a fiction "virgin", he really didn't know how the story was going to end. Those of us who have been reading 19th century fiction for years automatically look to see who will match up with whom. We were doing that for the unfinished Drood by Dickens, for instance. It was all totally new and surprising to him, and I'm a bit envious of that experience.

I think Emma was a great novel for this man to start with, since the "hero" Mr Knightley is not a juvenile hero, and indeed has the temperament of an engineer. He's all about making things work in the world and as he freely admits, he's not poetic. Yet there's no doubt how much he loves Emma, and his kindness to her father is extraordinary.

At the end Knightley is actually the "clueless" one in 2 situations. He thinks Emma will be upset by Frank's engagement and that she'll be angry about Harriet's marriage. Of course, as it turns out, everything is for the best.


message 4: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2917 comments Mod
Robin, that is a wonderful story about the importance of fiction. And the fact that Mr. Knightly did not know how Emma felt about Frank shows us that he is not perfect, which is a good thing. It made for some very delightful scenes between those two.
I also like the fact that both Emma and Mr. Knightly were so concerned about the welfare of Mr. Woodhouse, who really did not deal well with change.


message 5: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments Well I was able to wait with the conclusion until this week. But that is only because it was a re-read and I knew all would end well. If it was my first time through, there is no way I could have waited!

I have enjoyed this re-read tremendously because I slowed down to notice the details and the double, if not triple parallel stories. I love how Jane Austen takes different characters and puts them in similar situations and then let us see how they respond. None of her characters are perfect, not even Mr. Knightley! They are all very human and that is why, I think, we relate to them so well.

Thank you everyone for your engaging comments and insights.


message 6: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments Hi, Robin, the person you mention is a Goodreads friend of mine! He seems to be a lovely, warm-hearted person, though we have never met face to face. Here is a post on Austenprose in which he tells his story in his own words: https://austenprose.com/2012/01/06/re...


message 7: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2917 comments Mod
Thank you for that link, Abigail. What a lucky man he is to discover the joys of reading fiction.


message 8: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1896 comments Mod
I've also enjoyed the reread very much, and though it hasn't changed my opinion about Emma (or the character!) it was lovely to do a slow read and discuss as I went along-really helped me to clarify why I felt the way I did about this novel, but also to enjoy the read and the characters and the beautiful writing all over again. It IS very different to read knowing the outcome, and fun to pick up all the hints that Austen left along the way about Frank and Jane's relationship and realize how Emma's conversation with Frank and Frank's actions and behaviour takes on a very different meaning when we know about his prior engagement. Thanks for a great discussion everyone!


message 9: by Robin P, Moderator (last edited Jun 19, 2016 07:51PM) (new)

Robin P | 2224 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "Hi, Robin, the person you mention is a Goodreads friend of mine! He seems to be a lovely, warm-hearted person, though we have never met face to face. Here is a post on Austenprose in which he tells..."

Thanks for finding him! I tried to find his name but I think I'm no longer a member of the group where I originally saw his story. But as you can tell, the details stuck with me. He tells it much better of course.

Emma is the book that made me fall in love with Jane Austen. I had read P & P in school, which probably took away some of the fun and also I think I was too young. I remember finding the language off-putting. It was a few years latter that I read Emma and then read everything else more than once, including rereading P & P and appreciating it. The only one I haven't reread is Mansfield Park, which didn't even seem like a Jane Austen book.

I think the movie Clueless is quite a good modern interpretation. The heroine has the same well-meaning but self-centered view. I would have said that class distinctions don't matter in modern America, but it's really clear in the movie that there are hierarchies almost as strict today.


message 10: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2917 comments Mod
My daughter was in high school when Clueless came out and I have seen and enjoyed the movie more than once. There are definitely some parallels between the book and the movie.
I have read Mansfield Park twice and watched the movie version. I remember the movie, but not the book.


message 11: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) This was a first read of Emma for me. I enjoyed it and the discussion comments.
I especially liked the view of Emma as a caretaker of her father and therefore less of just a 'clueless interfering' maiden. She became more in my mind, a concerned young woman who was simply inexperienced and somewhat prejudiced according to the times. In the story it appeared that she could learn and grow wiser, especially with Mr. Knightley by her side.
The ending was happy for all concerned.


message 12: by Veronique (new)

Veronique That story of fiction reading discovery is lovely!

I have also very much enjoyed this group reading. Emma worried me. I'd seen several adaptations but had never read the book since I was worried I wouldn't connect with this character. I should have just trusted Austen. I loved it - from the plot and characterisation to its masterful treatment :0) I can finally understand why some people wax lyrical about it and consider it her best. Personally, I love all 5 I have read, each for different reasons.

So now I've only got Mansfield Park missing...


message 13: by Renee (new)

Renee M | 752 comments What a wonderful experience this has been! The conversation here has added so much to my enjoyment of the book. Including the delightful tale of the engineer who learned to love fiction. :)

I particularly enjoyed the scene where poor Mr. Knightly confesses his affection to Emma. I hadn't remembered it being quite so emotional. I completely agree with Robin in her assessment of his character being quite engineer-like; I thoroughly appreciated the mature hero on this go-round. And also had a much truer sense of Jane Fairfax. (Although some of that might be due to being a more mature reader myself this time.)


message 14: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2917 comments Mod
I find that when we discuss a book, I can see various aspects of the novel that I would not have noticed if I were reading by myself, or for the first time. I enjoyed Emma much more this time. I am glad that I decided to reread it. It is not my favourite Austen novel, but there are some scenes and characters that I really enjoyed.
The odious Mrs. Elton stays in your memory, perhaps because we may have known people who are really like that.
I have to agree that Mr. Knightly's proposal to Emma was a lot of fun to read.


message 15: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2224 comments Mod
Knightley's timing in proposing to Emma was fortunate. If he had asked her at the beginning of the novel, she probably would have turned him down, thinking she needed to live more and experience "true love" from some imaginary perfect hero (such as the unknown Frank Churchill). I think that, in addition to waiting for her to grow up (the idea of him loving her when she was 13 is a bit charming and a bit creepy), he was observing her maturing and being ready for his declaration.


message 16: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments Robin wrote: "Knightley's timing in proposing to Emma was fortunate. If he had asked her at the beginning of the novel, she probably would have turned him down, thinking she needed to live more and experience "t..."

I agree, plus if she accepted Mr. Knightley at the beginning of the book, we would have no story.

I have been observing the many parallel stories. Like Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, Emma and Mr. Knightley had to keep their engagement a secret also, though just for a short while.


message 17: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2917 comments Mod
Brit, you stated the case well: if she had accepted Knightly at the beginning of the story it wouldn't be the novel we have just finished reading.
I could see Emma growing up and becoming more mature during the course of the novel, a large part of this due to Mr. Knightly's influence. She needed to be told that her treatment and mocking of Miss Bates would hurt that lady's feelings, even if Miss Bates didn't show that she had been hurt.


message 18: by Renee (new)

Renee M | 752 comments I also had the impression that in many ways it was the attentions of Frank Churchill which cause George Knightly to examine his feelings for Emma. Just as Harriet's crush on Knightly causes Emma to realize that she has a deep love of her own for him.


message 19: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments Jane Austen did an amazing job of juggling many characters and stories in Emma. Persuasion used to be my favorite Austen novel, but now Emma is ranking right up there. I have read all her novels, and I hope there will be group read of another of her novels.


message 20: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) I agree with many comments here. Jane Austen managed to show comparisons which is often how we learn, for example, we don't understand joy unless we feel sorrow. By juxtaposing the characters Jane showed Emma learning and growing. Maybe part of the point of the story was to see that all things that come into a life are essential for the ultimate goal of appreciating what is good.


message 21: by Lily (last edited Jun 21, 2016 09:42PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Brit wrote: "Jane Austen did an amazing job of juggling many characters and stories in Emma. Persuasion used to be my favorite Austen novel, but now Emma is ranking right up there. I have read all her novels, a..."

A critic who agrees with you on the preeminence of Emma:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...

Another interesting comparison of her novels:

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/th...

A very different view:

https://lovelyliterature.com/2015/10/...

Another:

http://publishersweekly.com/pw/by-top...


message 22: by Veronique (new)

Veronique Renee wrote: "I also had the impression that in many ways it was the attentions of Frank Churchill which cause George Knightly to examine his feelings for Emma. Just as Harriet's crush on Knightly causes Emma to..."

Yes I saw it in the same way. Neither know the true extend of their feelings at the beginning of the book. It is only when there is the 'threat' of someone else that they realise it.


message 23: by Veronique (new)

Veronique Lily wrote: "Brit wrote: "Jane Austen did an amazing job of juggling many characters and stories in Emma. Persuasion used to be my favorite Austen novel, but now Emma is ranking right up there. I have read all ..."

Thanks Lily for these.
The second was particularly interesting. I agree that Emma is the technical masterpiece, and great fun too, but my heart is still very much with Persuasion. Ultimately, it doesn't really matter how we order them - they're all brilliant.
Yes please for another Austen read :0)


message 24: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2224 comments Mod
Yes, Lily, thanks for the links. Interesting how different people's preferences are.


message 25: by Lily (last edited Jun 22, 2016 08:17PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Veronique wrote: "...Neither know the true extend of their feelings at the beginning of the book. It is only when there is the 'threat' of someone else that they realise it. ..."

The age (and experience) difference also seems to be becoming proportionately less.

A fun goodreads discussion (from 2008) here:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 26: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Amazon is currently streaming Emma (free for Prime members)... this version is the 2009 BBC Masterpiece Classic mini-series of four hour-long episodes, starring Romola Garai as Emma.

This is my first read of Emma, and the first adaptation of it to film that I've ever seen. At first, I wasn't sure if I cared for Romola Garai's depiction of Emma, but as I continued to watch the series, I decided she was perfect. There were many perfect castings, including Miss Bates (Tamsin Greig) and Mr. Woodhouse (Michael Gambon). The depth of character of all the characters, combined with the lightness of so many comedic moments, really brought the story to life for me. Jonny Lee Miller was exactly as Mr. Knightley should be.

I loved this story, and it's at the top of my Austen rankings today -- but I have yet to read Persuasion, and while I'm pretty sure I've read Sense and Sensibility I'm so vague about it I figure I should just read it again.


message 27: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Janice(JG) wrote: "Amazon is currently streaming Emma (free for Prime members)... this version is the 2009 BBC Masterpiece Classic mini-series of four hour-long episodes, starring Romola Garai as Emma. ..."

JG -- Thx for that heads up. Something else to add to my to do list! Really hope I manage to take advantage of this!


message 28: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments How I envy you still having a first read of Persuasion to look forward to, Janice! I wish I could go back and relive that moment.


message 29: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1896 comments Mod
Yes-Persuasion was my favourite.


message 30: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments Ah, but the re-reads are great also. You know the ending and can slow down to catch the small details that enriches the stories so much.


message 31: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2917 comments Mod
Persuasion is my favourite too.


message 32: by Lily (last edited Jun 24, 2016 12:29PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Abigail wrote: "How I envy you still having a first read of Persuasion to look forward to, Janice! I wish I could go back and relive that moment."

Why? Abigail, I once seldom re-read. A few people on Barnes and Noble and Goodreads slowly introduced me to the value of reading again versus always going on to something new -- a different story, a new author, a different set of knowledge. Only now, late in life, am I beginning to wish I had always nourished a practice of reading a second, a third, even even a fourth time those books worthy of such investment. I now ask myself the question I place to you -- what is so special about a first read? Is it like the excitement of creating a new friendship versus relishing an established one? Is it like a new destination for a vacation -- or even to live? Is it simpler: hunger for fresh knowledge, surprise of an unknown plot?


message 33: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments I wasn’t dissing rereads—this isn’t a zero-sum game—I was simply acknowledging that a first reading is a unique experience, one that can never be repeated. Certainly the surprise of not knowing how the story will play out is part of it, and the feeling as the book’s insights and waves of beautiful language break in your mind for the first time is another part. Rereading a beloved book is a very different kind of experience (and one I often enjoy, having been an inveterate rereader from my earliest years).


message 34: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2917 comments Mod
There are some books that I reread, others that I read only once. One of the reasons I read certain books is the feeling of comfort and nostalgia. This applies to children's books and "feel good" books. In the case of classics, the first read is generally to find out what is going to happen next. The second time around I pay more attention to the details and the language. In the case of Emma, I really didn't like it that much when I read it for the first time, but this time I did. I definitely think the input from group members was a major factor as well as a careful read on my part.


message 35: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Abigail wrote: "...Certainly the surprise of not knowing how the story will play out is part of it, and the feeling as the book’s insights and waves of beautiful language break in your mind for the first time is another part...."

Thank you for your thoughtful response to my musings, Abigail.


message 36: by Lily (last edited Sep 15, 2016 09:10AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Somehow, I can't let go of Emma this summer. I am in the process of reading the Norton Edition (fourth) commentary and am still learning more. Although I both read and listened as this discussion was happening, I was also juggling too many reads and other things this spring to be carefully attentive. Although it won't be right away, I now look forward to my next read of/listen to Emma. Hopefully, it will be with these notes nearby.

To share just a couple of the tantalizers (to me, at least):

1. "One could look at the novel as having twin themes: the education of Emma Woodhouse and the education of Harriet Smith."

2. "Critics continue to argue, however, about the degree to which gender roles in Austin ought to be seen as conformist or progressive." (Examples are provided, including Claudia Johnson on "the very non-traditional gender role played by a sensitive male character like Mr. Knightly" versus Marilyn Butler's view that "the novel lies squarely in a conservative tradition of British novels...." Rebellious female notions are disciplined away and British values defended vis-a-vis "the radical ideas of the French revolution.")

3. From biographical notes from her nephew, "Jane Austen lived in entire seclusion from the literary world: neither by correspondence, nor by personal intercourse was she known by any contemporary authors. It is probable that she was never in company with any person whose talents or whose celebrity equalled her own; so that her powers never could have been sharpened by collision with superior intellects, nor her imagination aided by their casual suggestions." Fascinating to consider the consequences of such isolation on her writings, both in relation to her peers and to the authors of today.

4. Comments on the nature of Emma's "art" and of the nature of the satire Austen uses, to what objectives. (Includes a discussion of "Horatian" -- gentle, amused versus "Juvenalian" -- lacerating blows to objects of scorn.)


message 37: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments Thanks for sharing those, Lily! It’s amazing how much there is to discover in her to-all-appearances straightforward novels. I recently read the Harvard annotated edition (edited by Bharat Tandon) and learned a lot (though I occasionally had to argue with the modern “equivalent” words Tandon offered).


message 38: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Abigail wrote: "Thanks for sharing those, Lily! It’s amazing how much there is to discover in her to-all-appearances straightforward novels. .."

I echo your thanks to Lily, and fully agree with you about how much there is lying beneath the surface of what appears at first look to be a fairly light and not very intellectually important novel. It's somewhat like the familiar metaphor of the swimming duck; it appears calm and peaceful viewed from above, but under the water there's a tremendous lot going on!


message 39: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Abigail wrote: "Thanks for sharing those, Lily! It’s amazing how much there is to discover in her to-all-appearances straightforward novels. I recently read the Harvard annotated edition (edited by Bharat Tandon) ..."

Thanks for the heads up, Abigail. Not right now, but hopefully at the time of next read.

Was it this one?
Jane Austen and the Morality of Conversation by Bharat Tandon Jane Austen and the Morality of Conversation by Bharat Tandon


message 40: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments I believe this is the link for the Norton Fourth Edition:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8...


message 41: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments I tried to pull up a link to the annotated Emma on Goodreads and the list of options kept sliding off into annotated editions of other novels. Here it is on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Emma-Annotated...

The Harvard (technically Belknap Press, an imprint of Harvard UP) series of annotated JA novels has lavish illustrations and a lot of useful context and commentary. I have read several of them now and like some better than others (they have different editors; I didn’t love the Northanger Abbey so much). They are useful to me because they offer very carefully prepared texts based usually on the first editions of the books.


message 42: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Abigail wrote: "I tried to pull up a link to the annotated Emma on Goodreads and the list of options kept sliding off into annotated editions of other novels. Here it is on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Emma-Ann..."


Thanks, Abigail! I think my library may just have that one, maybe as an anniversary edition... The size and the cover look familiar. I have not used it yet.


message 43: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments I liked the restraint of the editor, though I thought a few opportunities for comment were overlooked.


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