20 juillet 2013 Strasbourg 20 July 2013

Cher Valery,

Vous trouverez ci-joint trois romans de Jane Austen à ranger bien soigneusement dans votre bibliothèque virtuelle. Cela vous servira à préparer une rencontre virtuelle avec Jane Austen. Selon toute probabilité, il est prévu que vous arriviez tous à Bath en mars 2015, alors il me semble que, bien qu’on ait le temps, il n’est pas inutile que vous vous y prépariez. Vous avez beaucoup de voyages en train à effectuer dans le mois qui vient car je ne tiens pas à ce que vous gaspilliez les « flash travels » à tort et à travers. Et puis vous devez passer du temps à entraîner vos compagnons. C’est une priorité !

J’ai fait un relevé précis des lieux décrits ou habités par Jane Austen à Bath et à Lyme Regis. Cela vous aidera à l’interroger. Bonne lecture.

Bath mars 2012 029

En bref : Dans « NorthangerAbbey », le premier roman de Jane Austen, on assiste à l’enthousiasme de l’héroïne qui rêvait de venir habiter quelque temps dans l’agréable demeure choisie par le couple Allen qui l’a invitée :

They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already. They were soon settled in comfortable lodgings in Pultney Street”.

Mais il se passera un certain temps avant que les amitiés ne se nouent, que les amours ne prennent leur essor, que les bals ne deviennent des lieux du plaisir partagé, qu’une société fermée s’ouvre à de nouveaux arrivants provinciaux, tandis que le shopping et la prise des eaux prendront  l’effet d’un rite quotidien :

« Every morning now brought its regular duties — shops were to be visited; some new part of the town to be looked at; and the pump-room to be attended, where they paraded up and down for an hour, looking at everybody and speaking to no one. The wish of a numerous acquaintance in Bath was still uppermost with Mrs. Allen, and she repeated it after every fresh proof, which every morning brought, of her knowing nobody at all.

Le plus bel ensemble immobilier de Bath est certainement « The Royal Crescent ». Ce lieu de promenade était déjà un must du temps de Jane Austen. Situé sur la partie haute de Bath, on y découvre la ville entière sans aucun obstacle pour la vue. Cette disposition unique tient au fait des restrictions de construction qui ont été imposées par les baux originaux. En 1968, le Major Bernard Cayzer a fait l’acquisition du N°1 royal Crescent et l’a présenté au « Bath Preservation Trust » qui en a effectué la restauration en utilisant uniquement des matières et matériaux conçus au XVIIIe siècle. Devenu sans conteste le N°1 des musées de Bath, il offre une véritable découverte de la vie à l’époque géorgienne dans une résidence élégante. Chaque pièce constitue un exemple séduisant décoré de meubles, peintures et tissus authentiques. Il a ré-ouvert au mois de juin après une nouvelle restauration.

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Il s’agit bien entendu d’un lieu de promenade idéal pour l’héroïne de Jane Austen dans “Northanger Abbey“:

As soon as divine service was over, the Thorpes and Allens eagerly joined each other; and after staying long enough in the pump–room to discover that the crowd was insupportable, and that there was not a genteel face to be seen, which everybody discovers every Sunday throughout the season, they hastened away to the Crescent, to breathe the fresh air of better company. Here Catherine and Isabella, arm in arm, again tasted the sweets of friendship in an unreserved conversation; they talked much, and with much enjoyment; but again was Catherine disappointed in her hope of re-seeing her partner…”

Je ne peux que vous recommander de pratiquer également des comparaisons. Les auteurs aiment bien qu’on rentre dans un éloge de leur style ! Je vous donne un exemple à situer entre le Flaubert de “L’Education sentimentale” et le constat de raison dans le doux balancement des mots de la part de Jane Austen dans « Persuasion » quand elle atteint elle-même cet âge un peu fatal pour envisager encore de pouvoir se marier, à cette époque où le bon parti est une denrée précieuse. L’âge, une denrée rare à cette époque où on vieillit prématurément par rapport aux temps présent. La différence d’âge est donc d’autant plus pesante.

« Elle était assise, au milieu du banc, toute seule ; ou du moins il ne distingua personne, dans l’éblouissement que lui envoyèrent ses yeux. En même temps qu’il passait, elle leva la tête ; il fléchit involontairement les épaules ; et, quand il se fut mis plus loin, du même côté, il la regarda. Elle avait un large chapeau de paille, avec des rubans roses qui palpitaient au vent derrière elle. Ses bandeaux noirs, contournant la pointe de ses grands sourcils, descendaient très bas et semblaient presser amoureusement l’ovale de sa figure. Sa robe de mousseline claire, tachetée de petits pois, se répandait à plis nombreux. Elle était en train de broder quelque chose ; et son nez droit, son menton, toute sa personne se découpait sur le fond de l’air bleu. »

« It sometimes happens, that a woman is handsomer at twenty-nine than she was ten years before; and, generally speaking, if there has been neither ill health nor anxiety, it is a time of life at which scarcely any charm is lost. It was so with Elisabeth; still the same handsome Miss Elliot that she had begun to be thirteen years ago; and Sir Walter might be excused, therefore, in forgetting her age, or, at least, be deemed half a fool, for thinking himself and Elisabeth as blooming as ever, amidst the wreck of the good looks of everybody else; for he could plainly see how all the rest of his family and acquaintance were growing.”

Et je vous laisse méditer sur le passage du temps…

Bien à vous.

Votre commanditaire.

L’EDITEUR

 

Dear Valery,

You will find attached three Jane Austen’s novels to be very carefully tidied up in your electronic library. It will serve you to prepare a virtual meeting with Jane Austen. In all probability, it is planned that you arrive all at Bath in March, 2015, then it seems to me that, although we have time, it is not useless that you get ready for it. You have many train journeys within the next month because I do not want you wasted ‘flash travels‘ wildly. And then you have to spend time to train your companions. This is a priority!

I made a precise statement of places described or lived by Jane Austen in Bath and to Lyme Regis. It will help you to question her.

In brief : In ‘Northanger Abbey‘, Jane Austen’s first novel, we witness the enthusiasm of the heroin who dreamed to come and spend some time in the pleasant lodgings chosen by the Allen couple who had invited her:

They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already. They were soon settled in comfortable lodgings in Pultney Street”.

bath-mars-2012-021

 

But it will be some time before friendships develop, before romances soar, before the dance halls become places of shared enjoyment and before a closed society opens up to new arrivals from the countryside, when shopping and taking the waters become daily routine:

« Every morning now brought its regular duties — shops were to be visited; some new part of the town to be looked at; and the pump-room to be attended, where they paraded up and down for an hour, looking at everybody and speaking to no one. The wish of a numerous acquaintance in Bath was still uppermost with Mrs. Allen, and she repeated it after every fresh proof, which every morning brought, of her knowing nobody at all.”

The most magnificent estate in Bath is certainly ‘The Royal Crescent’. Jane Austen referred to only as The Crescent. It was, and still is, a pleasant place to promenade. It has wonderful views across the city, being part of the upper town, due to the open prospect it commands. The lack of building immediately before it was due to the building restrictions imposed in the original leases for the site.

In 1968, Major Bernard Cayzer purchased N°1 Royal Crescent and presented it to the ‘Bath Preservation Trust, who restored the house using only materials available in the 18th century. Now one of the Bath’s leading museums N°1 provides an opportunity for modern-day visitors to experience what life was like inside these elegant residences. Each room is an exquisite example of Georgian interior design with authentic furniture, painting and textiles. It re-opened last June after a second restoration phase.

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This is of course an ideal promenade for the character written by Jane Austen in ‘Northanger Abbey’:

As soon as divine service was over, the Thorpes and Allens eagerly joined each other; and after staying long enough in the pump–room to discover that the crowd was insupportable, and that there was not a genteel face to be seen, which everybody discovers every Sunday throughout the season, they hastened away to the Crescent, to breathe the fresh air of better company. Here Catherine and Isabella, arm in arm, again tasted the sweets of friendship in an unreserved conversation; they talked much, and with much enjoyment; but again was Catherine disappointed in her hope of re-seeing her partner...’

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I can only recommend you to try also comparisons. The authors like that we go into a praise of their style! I give you an example to place between the Flaubert of ‘l’Education sentimentale’ and the report of reasonable behaviour which is obvious in the delicate balance of words by Jane Austen in ‘Persuasion’, when she herself was reaching that rather fateful age to still imagine being able to marry, in this age when the right match is a precious commodity.

She was seated in the middle of a bench all alone, or, at least it appeared so to him; he could see no one else, dazzled as he was by her eyes. At the moment when he was passing, she raised her head; his shoulders bent involuntarily; and, when he had seated himself, some little distance away, on the same side, he glanced toward her. She wore a wide straw hat, the red ribbons of which fluttered in the wind behind her. Her black tresses, braided around the top of her large forehead, descended very low near her cheeks, and seemed amorously to press the oval of her face. Her robe of muslin spotted with green spread out in ample folds. She was embroidering something; and her straight nose, her rounded chin, her entire person was outlined on the background of the luminous air and the blue sky.’

It sometimes happens, that a woman is handsomer at twenty-nine than she was ten years before; and, generally speaking, if there has been neither ill health nor anxiety, it is a time of life at which scarcely any charm is lost. It was so with Elisabeth; still the same handsome Miss Elliot that she had begun to be thirteen years ago; and Sir Walter might be excused, therefore, in forgetting her age, or, at least, be deemed half a fool, for thinking himself and Elisabeth as blooming as ever, amidst the wreck of the good looks of everybody else; for he could plainly see how all the rest of his family and acquaintance were growing.’

And I let you meditate …

Yours.

Your sponsor.

THE PUBLISHER

 

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A lire également / Another article : There’s something about Jane Austen in Bath

Vidéos : BBC Four The Real Jane Austen 2002

Filmographie Allo ciné.

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