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Monday, August 9, 2021

Austen Wisdom: A Janeite Roundtable

It's time for another Janeite Roundtable! This time, I asked our authors: 
 What is some Austen wisdom that you think could/should be applied today?
ALEXA: This quote from Catherine Morland has weighed on me lately: “If I could not be persuaded into doing what I thought wrong, I never will be tricked into it." I feel like these might be harder words to live up to in modern times. 

MISTY: Ooh, too true 

ALEXA: We have so much extra baggage influencing our decision making.

RIANA: This might be an unpopular opinion, but some of Mary Bennet’s sermonizing isn’t completely off the mark. 

MISTY: I wonder if Mary could be persuaded or tricked into doing what she thinks is wrong? Like, if someone paid her one bare second of attention, would it undo any of her moral rectitude?

MARILYN: Referencing what we all learned from Wickham, Willoughby, and the other JA villains: Always pay attention to how people behave, not merely to what they say. The truth will be revealed by their actions, not their words.

RIANA: Mary says, “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” There’s actually a lot of wisdom in that! We talk so much about pride these days, with our own interpretations of what that means, but if we look at Mary’s meaning, it’s a good suggestion of how we should approach the word and the sentiment: To act in such a way that informs our personal opinion of ourselves. 

MISTY: I do have to say, I think Mary isn't given enough credit. I mean, she's so young. All of the Bennet sisters are! There's still so much opportunity for life to open their eyes, for them to step into who they truly are -- I'm not the same person I was at 17, and thank god for that! Although, maybe, in the words of Lizzie, in essentials, I'm much as I ever was. But who we present to the world at such a young age... so much of it is for show. So much of it is who we think we're supposed to be, or is a reaction to those around us -- who we are instead of or in spite of.  I wish we could see Mary with some of her layers peeled away...

RIANA: Boy, that got rather deep, didn’t it? 

LONA: For me, the most valuable lesson I learned was from Emma, about patience and forbearance towards our elders. 

MISTY: A sometimes-difficult lesson. Especially when your elders are the Lady Catherines and the Sir Elliots of the world...

LONA: Following Emma's example, I tried to be more attentive to a particularly crotchety elderly relative who didn't get a lot of visitors. Emma's remark about doing "more than she wished, and less than she ought" was quite applicable to my frame of mind, but now that she is gone, I don't regret the time I spent with her, and only regret not doing more.

MISTY: That line from Emma, "more than she wished, and less than she ought," is such a perfect encapsulation to me of why Austen is so well-loved so many years later. Her wisdom and talent cut straight through to universal truths, and that is one I think almost anyone will have felt before. And she has so many lines like that, such perfect distillations of Truth.

CHRISTINA: “Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience – or give it a more fascinating name: Call it hope.” 

MISTY: Like that one! Or perhaps, after the year we've had, we should take another particular line to heart: "Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure." ;)


Let us know your favorite bits of Austen wisdom in the comments! 

BIG THANKS to this year's roundtable of contributors:
Alexa Adams, author of The Tales of Less Pride and Prejudice series, et al
Christina Boyd, editor of  The Quill Collective anthology series
Lona Manning, author of the Mansfield Trilogy and the blog series "Clutching My Pearls"
Marilyn Brant, author of Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match, et al.
Riana Everly, author of the Miss Mary Investigates series, et al.

Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
Click here to return to the master list of Austen in August posts!


  1. Yes, love how her life quotes and novel quotes resonate so much for current life. Good picks and examples, ladies!

  2. Ohhhh those are all excellent ones! "Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience – or give it a more fascinating name: Call it hope." is definitely my focus these days (both in refocusing my life to be about making my own happy without reliance on others for it, and it seeking out patience- with myself as well as others. And hope, cuz the depression this year has been whoof).

  3. such a important information, i like your writing skills and everything about this blog just caught my attention.

  4. Misty, that line at the end where you quote from P&P is what I've been striving to live. After the bad things that happened last year and continuing on to this year, I would like to look back from my future self as a wonderful lesson we can all learn from.

    1. It's definitely good advice to remember, isn't it?


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