Jane Austen, My Hero

This is my copy of Persuasion from one of several English classes I took with Professor Susan Gubar at IU Bloomington. – http://www.tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

It was 200 years ago yesterday that my literary muse Jane Austen died at age 41, in Winchester, Hampshire, England. She is, in fact, buried in Winchester Cathedral. By 41 years of age, she had written books that hold us spellbound even today. Jane Austen’s work should be outdated, but that is not the case. Her work is timeless, her female heroes we long to imitate such as Emma Woodhouse, Elizabeth Bennett, or my personal favorite, Anne Elliot. I love reading Pride and Prejudice, too, and though I lose patience in Emma with Emma’s selfishness, in the end, I admire how she acknowledges her self-centeredness, repents, and becomes worthy of Mr. Knightley’s love.

Then there are the male heroes, like Fitzwilliam Darcy, who most readers swoon over, George Knightley, who guides Emma or tries to, and Captain Frederick Wentworth, my hero of choice. Persuasion is also my favorite of Austen’s novels. Published posthumously, Persuasion is a novel of maturity, of wisdom that comes from experience and lives longer lived. In Persuasion it is Captain Wentworth who learns to appreciate the steadiness of character and the constancy of love, instead of Austen’s other female protagonists. Anne Elliot proved a most together person of integrity. She taught her great love Captain Wentworth, instead of the other way around as in her other novels.

Jane Austen might have been gratified to know that England plans to initiate a new ten-pound note currency with her picture on it in September 2017. As much as I laud the British for applauding her greatness in a monetary manner, particularly ironic since Jane Austen lacked money in the last years of her life, her presence on the ten-pound note will keep her presence in front of millions of people for years. Maybe the money note will pique interest in more reading of her books, which she would have liked.

However, I take issue yesterday with Google not placing a Jane Austen animated puzzle or cartoon on its search engine page. Google seems to give a nod to all sorts of illustrious people, both dead and alive, but on the anniversary of Austen’s death, Google did nothing. I felt it to be a glaring omission. Her birthdate was December 16, 1775. Perhaps Google will offer praise to her on her this December on the 242nd anniversary of her birth. I, for one, will raise my cup of tea in honor of Jane Austen multiple times throughout the year, particularly when I read, re-read, and re-read her books.

Ciao for now.

 

 

Time after Time

crying  angel, figure on  Ixelles Cemetery (French:   Cimetiere d'Ixelles, Dutch : begraafplaats van Elsene ), Brussels, Europe
Even the angels weep for the victims. – http://www.tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi |@MaryAnnaVioli

  While I have been engrossed in writing another novel, I have neglected my blog for several weeks. However, recent events have compelled to focus more fully on composing this piece today.

I cannot ignore the bombing in Manchester, England this week, on Monday, May 22. Just when I think there are no words, I find I have the words.

Another sick twist that was seduced by a perverted interpretation of what being a Muslim is, annihilated 22 innocent concertgoers and injured 62 others. The desecration of life, the horror, the heartache, and the eternal question of Why swirled repeatedly through my mind. A light-hearted evening at an Ariana Grande concert that encouraged young girls to be strong, strive for a better future, and simply like themselves, then tore apart families and friends in a single act of pure evil that targeted primarily female youth.

All this cruelty occurred days before the start of Ramadan, the most sacred month for Muslims.

I think of the concerts my daughter has attended over the years, how happy and carefree she felt as she enjoyed The Spice Girls, The Backstreet Boys, and Lady Antebellum, among others. When I now look back on my daughter’s concert attendance, I shudder to think of how the parents of those young people endured the waiting and then the knowing. Innocent victims all, parents included, it turned out at the Manchester concert. As parents I believe we all wanted to hold our children closer after the tragic events in Manchester, England on May 22. Yet I wept over the senseless killings at Paris’ Bateclan and at Charlie Hebro, of the children in Syria, and of all attacks on the innocent. The Pulse Nightclub slaughter in Orlando, Florida last year, and the running down of families merely enjoying fireworks in Nice, France on Bastille Day bring the senseless deaths to the forefront time and time again.

I have prayed countless “Hail Mary” for the victims and their families. I am impressed with the resiliency of the survivors and their families. Its takes time, years, in fact, but they tend to emerge committed to a better world and improved life for their loved ones, knowing life can change in a heartbeat.

If the degenerates carrying out these attacks think they will gain an immediate place in Paradise, here is news for them: they have only paved for themselves a one-way ticket to Hell.

Ciao for now.

 

Leaping Through The Year

iStock_000018807068_Full It’s Leap Year! – tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

I admit it: I never fully understood the concept of Leap Year. All that I ever gleaned from it was that every four years, another day got tacked on to February. The reason for minimal conceptual comprehension had more to do with my non-interest in padding out an astronomical explanation.

My lack of lunar gravitas will likely draw ire from those more attuned to the ways of calendars and lunar-sun movements. Fortunately, the online The National Geographic’s Brian Handwerk penned “The Surprising History Behind Leap Year”, February 26, 2016. A link to the full article follows this excerpt:

Ancient Timekeeping

Efforts to make nature’s schedule fit our own have been imperfect from the start. Some ancient calendars, dating to the Sumerians 5,000 years ago, simply divided the year into 12 months of 30 days each. Their 360-day year was nearly a week shorter than our annual journey around the sun.

The practice of adding extra days to the year is at least as old as these 360-day systems.

“When the Egyptians adopted this calendar they were aware that there was a problem, but they didn’t add any more days to the calendar,” says [John] Lowe [leader of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s Time & Frequency Division].

“They just added an extra five days of festivals, of partying, at the end of the year.”

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/02/160226-leap-year-science-time-world-cultures-february/

What resonates with me is how the Egyptians handled the extra time element by tacking on five more days of festivals and partying in December. I think the Egyptians were on to something with that practice, which I personally would endorse reinstating. We could use more revelry at the end of any year.

An article in the British online version of The Telegraph addresses the history of women proposing on Leap Year, which may or may not date back to the fifth century. In this article, “Leap Year 2016:  Why does February have 29 days every four years?” by Rozina Sabur, Cameron Macphail, and Juliet Eysenck. The excerpt is part of the article included in the link below.

Why does the woman propose on a Leap Year?

[In England] Women either have to wear breeches or a scarlet petticoat to pop the question, according to tradition.

In Denmark, if a man turns down a proposal they must give the woman 12 pairs of gloves and in Finland the penalty is fabric for a skirt.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/12177017/Leap-Year-2016-Why-does-February-have-29-days-every-four-years.html

It is unclear to me why the man who turns down a woman’s proposal in Finland has to fork over “fabric for a skirt”. This raises questions in my mind: What if the woman wears dresses, and not skirts? What if the woman prefers pants or jeans to skirts? Who decided on skirt apparel for the fabric anyway? The British custom is perhaps less perplexing. Wearing pants places the woman in a trouser role, which happened in grand opera, as in Mozart’s and Handel’s. The donning of a “scarlet petticoat” resonates of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, except that Hester Prynne had the wear the A [for Adulteress] emblazoned across her outer chest garment.

If a woman is plucky enough to propose, then who cares what she is, or isn’t wearing? Whomever one chooses to propose to for anything on this auspicious date, rest assured Leap Year will not return until 2020. I leave you with this somewhat cryptic observation.

Ciao for now.