Friday, May 13, 2016

A Little Trip

Steventon Parsonage Jane Austen's home until 1801.

"We have arrived at a certain level of specialty when we can refer to the Late Juvenilia of Jane Austen." (1)

Leo Rockas has certainly arrived at a high level of expertise regarding the work of Jane Austen. Leo is an educator, author and good friend of many in our Central and Western NY Region of JASNA. Fortunately for us, Leo will be presenting at our May Meeting. The topic is something of a mystery. All that is known is that it concerns a favorite word of Jane Austen's - Solicitudes.  Intrigued? Come and here the always interesting Leo Rockas speak at our next meeting.

Just in - Leo received a nice mention in a recent review of Love and Friendship, director Whit Stillman's movie adaptation of Lady Susan. You can find the review here.

Event:     JASNA CWNY May Meeting
Speaker: Leo Rockas
When:    Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 1 pm
Where:   Barnes and Noble, Pittsford NY

While Leo makes his journey from Connecticut to Rochester, let's consider another trip, a virtual trip. Recently, I started reading Deirdre Le Faye's Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels. Perhaps someday I'll write a book review, but for now let's just consider the first chapter where the author takes us on a trip to Steventon. The directions are quite explicit. "About six miles beyond Basingstoke the long, low, white-painted Deane Gate Inn ... lies at a T-junction where a lane is signposted 11/4 miles to Steventon". With directions like that and a reference to an inn, it should be possible to follow the trip on Google Maps. Type in "Deane Gate Inn Steventon UK, use the Street View icon and here you have it.

We are directed to "...turn down here and squeeze under a high narrow railway aqueduct..."

It is narrow indeed.

Then a little further on at another T-junction we find "...the centre of the Steventon that Jane Austen knew...".

"Turning left at this junction takes you between thick-hedged meadows until a fingerpost points up an even narrower lane, "To Steventon Church". On this corner is the meadow that marks the location of Jane Austen's first home, Steventon Rectory.

Take the turn and look out over the place where Jane Austen was born.

Nothing remains of the original house, of course. It was torn down in favor of a newer and less damp and drafty home. An archeological dig has recently been carried out to see what may remain underground.

So, with the help of Deirdre Le Faye's directions and Google Maps, we can travel through the English countryside to the site of Jane Austen's birth and that virtual journey will have to satisfy us until Leo completes his journey to our May meeting.

1. Leo Rockas, "Sisters Askew: "The Three Sisters" and Pride and Prejudice" Persuasions Online, vol. 33, No. 1 (Winter 2012)

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