"Little Women?": Karen JoyFowler's Adventure inAustenland Edward Neill has published widely in journals and periodicals, and is the author of four books: Trial by Ordeal?: Hardy and the Critics, The Politics of Jane Austen, The Secret Life of Thomas Hardy, and "The Waste Land" Revisited: Modernism, Intertextuality and the French Connection. Karen Joy Fowler's Jane Austen Book Club (2004) is in itself a match-making narrative relating to its mini-fan-club, which rotates with the seasonsto reveal something about the Austen novels, but rather more about the indi-viduals who compose this one, with six people over six months discussing sixnovels.1 A succession of literary slides reveals aspects of the formation of eachof the characters (the narratives which bring them to Austen's) and theAusten they half perceive and half create, bringing them into consonance,though by no means mechanically, with each Austen text, and its respectivecargo of heroes and heroines. The time is now-ish (though one intuits alongish gestation period for the novel), the setting California, the climate"Mediterranean" and so, like its mores, different from Jane Austen's, and wecontemplate narrative differences as well as effects of repetition. You see thefiction fitting Austen's where it touches, glancing and uncertain, yet with apersistent, knowing, Janeite sort of wink (even if, just occasionally, the readeris tempted to feel that Austen is present if you find it helpful to think of her).
"Each of us has a private Austen," states the "Prologue," and this is the themeof themes here (1). Consequently it was I think a big-ish mistake to bring in,at the conclusion, the public Austen of critical processing and pronounce-ments (258-79), epigraphed by that pre-eminent literary paradiddler MartinAmis, writing merrily away in The New Yorker about the appeal of Austen to"Marxists and semioticians" and the other wackies. Karen Joy Fowler's Adventure in Austenland But one can't but note that the "phenomenological" Austen of the rea- sonably endearing characters' impressions also abides our question: for exam-ple, Prudie's conclusion about Edmund as the suitor of Mary Crawford inMansfield Park, that "an unforgiving prick is an unforgiving prick" (110),which seems to be laying at least some claim to critical authority, is counteredby that novel's clear presentation of Mary's metropolitan worldly-minded-ness in her incessant pursuit of "money and greatness," in Mrs. Jennings'sidiom (S&S Ch. 37) — she would not make a good wife for a clergyman who,unlike many of his ilk, takes things ultra-seriously. Edmund, in his way, maybe there to "make amends for" the Mr. Collins of her previous novel — JaneAusten, like Mary Crawford, might also have wished to have "spoken morerespectfully of the cloth" after creating a "creature of clerical cut" (in T. S.
Eliot's phrasing) like Collins, and the final revelation of Mary's inhumanity inwishing the dissipated elder son Tom Bertram dead in order that her putativehusband Edmund, and herself, will achieve social prominence, definitely —indeed definitively — condemns her. So the fact that the Book Club charactersare infatuated with Austen does not always serve to make their observationson her less fatuous, or less than fatuous. The governing idea might be that itis precisely a pre-"professionalized" approach to literature which is "capableof saving us," in the words of Matthew Arnold, but this seems to occur peraccidens rather than by virtue, or the virtues, of the Austen books themselves.
Yet, as it happens the characters are paired off by the end, with Austen assomething of a catalyst at least, but rather in the mood of As You Like It, witha hint of Touchstone's cynicism over what, precisely, is likely to "happennext." Middle-aged Jocelyn is in the midst of things here as founder-member, dog breeder, watcher over the fortunes of her long-term friend Sylvia, cur-rently estranged from her husband Daniel — himself originally a boyfriend ofSylvia's. Sylvia's daughter Allegra, a high-strung lesbian, lover of thrills andspills, who leaps from airplanes (parachuted) to feel alive (and injures herself ),is herself estranged from her girlfriend Corinne, who attempted to sell thesecret experiences vouchsafed by Allegra to her lover as short stories to mag-azines, without success — with the failure rankling at least as much as thebetrayal. Austen's own early publishing debacles with the cavalier and dis-missive firms Cadell and Crosby (the work which became Northanger Abbeywas "declined by return of post") are cited by way of ironic consolation (77). Ingeneral the tone here is droll and dry, with a slightly malicious empathy; andoccasional recourses to whimsy also decorate or disfigure according to taste. In March the group meets at Jocelyn's and reads Emma, and Jocelyn has transparent analogies with the celebrated matchmaker (or mis-matcher) ofthe novel. Her Frank Churchill and her Mr. Elton in one is one Tony, origi-nally Sylvia's suitor, a man of ploys who conspires to kiss her against her willand sends a secret puppy (what Frank himself was ironically hinted at asbeing), by analogy with Churchill's infatuated gift of the piano to long-suffer-ing but strong-minded Jane Fairfax in Emma (Ch. 26). This leads, ironically,to the lifelong canine obsession, and Jocelyn and the only man of the group,the punitively-named Grigg, will unite under the aegis of this hobby (dogs, asit happens, were forbidden in Grigg's girl-dominated home as his weak andsilly father all-too-understandably declined to countenance them as a resultof their unwelcome attentions to him as a meter-reader). Jocelyn and Griggoriginally met in a hotel currently cross-hatching science fiction buffs anddog handlers, in a lift rather overcrowded with some singularly impolite vam-pires (128). Herself capable of some forms of vamping, Jocelyn, her name andnature suggesting, perhaps, a hint of masculinity, will rope in the hapless,faintly "girlie-fied" Grigg for the discussions, to the accompaniment of a fewmurmurs from the previously all-feminine group. In April it meets to read Sense and Sensibility with the volatile Allegra.
Like the noble Elinor in that novel, her considerate mother Sylvia will have toconsole her even in (and for) her own distresses, as Daniel embarks on anaffair with lawyer Pam and the marriage looks to be over. (Allegra also seemsto resume romantic Marianne as a focus for discussion of the putatively "queer"Jane Austen, one which, most will now agree, produced a good deal more heatthan light, though it has of course its "moment.") In May we read Mansfield Park with a Prudie-as-Fanny perhaps, reared as she is on fantasies of plenitude and elegance by her deeply inadequate, slut-tish, and neglectful mother, a suggestive portrait for students of Austen'sPortsmouth and its Mansfield antithesis. Prudie should, one feels, be rathermore disturbed as a result — just as, antithetically, Allegra's neurasthenicsseem excessive in the light of her gentle bourgeois upbringing. Prudie,matured, is still drawn to fantasy-worlds, to a France-as-imagined which sheloves too much ever to have visited by way of reality-check, for instance (102).
This causes her to burst fairly consistently into gnomic Gallicisms whichstrain the politeness as well as the construing powers of the assembledJaneites, though in a larger sense they constantly misconstrue each other inany case. Ongoing at Prudie's school is an allotrope of this other world, cooland remote as seen from Californian heat, a production of "Brigadoon," the Karen Joy Fowler's Adventure in Austenland primary-color musical with its time-warped Scottish village and its dream ofpassion for which Prudie's school incessantly rehearses (103-09), with a libid-inal emphasis which, in a sophisticated way, Austen's fiction replicates or isanalogous to. Art, in dramatising desires, also foments them. In June we read Northanger Abbey at Grigg's. Grigg does seem to be a version of the ingenuous heroine of the novel, and his sci-fi obsessions mirrorCatherine's likeable callowness as she wanders in what Keats would havecalled the "chambers of maiden thought" (in 1818 — the year of the Austennovel's publication) (Keats 90). Indeed Grigg astounds his auditors as a con-noisseur of The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), a sort of sci-fi prototype of otherworlds than Catherine's complacent mentor Henry Tilney's version of a much-too-reassuring England. But Grigg, horrifyingly to the others, has not yettangled with Pride and Prejudice, a novel whose tensions may announce thedistance and distaste between himself and Jocelyn here even as they becomeemotionally "involved." Grigg in this way is also the hesitating naïf who willfinally challenge his (female version of ) know-all Henry Tilney, though hismuttering self-effacement still leaves the declaration of his love for Jocelyn tohis concerned sister Cat ("God knows it can't be left up to him. He'll nevermake a move" [230]). Only his incivility, itself an Austen theme in relation tolove, marked by his mastery of the Darcy idiom "every savage can dance," ashe flounces onto the floor at the "annual fund-raiser for the Sacramento pub-lic library" (158) with the woman he loves, betrays the depth of his feeling asJocelyn suffers his apparently inexplicable rudeness and revolt. In July we read Pride and Prejudice, and with "First Impressions" as Austen's first impression of a title which would become the properly proudPride and Prejudice, we get each character's first impression of another. Herewe are with Bernadette, who, at sixty-seven, the "Epilogue" assures us, willmarry her sixth husband, environmentally ambitious Senor Obando of PuertoRica, in a kind of parody of Austen's repeated, yet differenced, marriage-plotoutcomes in her six completed novels: as Bernadette explained, none of hermarriages fulfilled her, failed or staled through mundane repetition and par-tial fulfilments. As it is, Bernadette and Senor Obando's shared repertoire ofshow-stoppers from musicals includes a version of what one fears may be thespecially relevant "A Cockeyed Optimist" (248), a sort of demotic version ofDr. Johnson's celebrated quip or topos about attempted repetitions of mar-riage entailing a "triumph of hope over experience." In Sylvia's house again inAugust, the group will read Persuasion, cuing memories of librarian Sylvia'sgenealogical researches in the California History Room analogous with Sir Walter Elliot's peerage preoccupations in the Austen text. Here, too, Sylviaand Daniel are appositely reunited as a result of sitting by accident-proneAllegra's bedside, brought together by nursing like the protagonists of Per-suasion itself, as Daniel, ditched by his lawyer, murmurs hero Frederick Went-worth's celebrated mantra of having been unjust, weak, and resentful, appar-ently always-already "subjected" by an underlying constancy no one hadpreviously noticed (232). Meanwhile, lesbian lovers Corinne and Allegra willshakily reunite, although the celebrated Austen maxim (from Emma) to theeffect that "seldom does complete truth belong to any human disclosure"(431), cited as epigraph to the whole here, will apply (Allegra had a briefcrush on, perhaps affair with, her hospital doctor, Dr. Yep [the name perhapsa "street-cred-ish" version of the Joycean-feminine "yes I will yes" at the endof Molly Bloom's soliloquy in Ulysses (1922)], and has surely earned her rightto withhold forever the missing portion of narrative from a Corinne obsessedwith "making it" as a creative writer). So Jane Austen, once more present andcorrect as textual matchmaker, appears herself to have "succeeded" in dis-solving the round table of "Janeites" she inspired. As Marilyn Butler hasrecently reminded us, the term was coined by George Saintsbury in his 1894edition of Pride and Prejudice (976), but for us immediately evokes RudyardKipling's odd, and (at least in Claudia Johnson's account), decidedly "queer"story in Debits and Credits (1924) (Johnson 143-63). Fortunately for Karen JoyFowler, these earlier incarnations of Jane-intoxicated "men" ("men" it cer-tainly was on that occasion) were, though in their way admirably besotted,also not necessarily distinguished by their perspicacity about their matchlessheroine. The tradition lives on.
Sly, dry, and droll, this new Austen theme park will indeed delight the Janeite tendency, although one might warn of a slight, brown-edging tacki-ness to some episodes which might just slightly scandalise more than theprissy. It also disguises by advertising its Austen genealogy, its truer affini-ties perhaps with other American writers — some I could name, like JohnBarth and John Cheever, Raymond Carver and Margaret Atwood, with biend'autres encore, as Prudie would no doubt put it. This novel "appreciates" theAusten style after its fashion, but reads as if it, or "the group," needs Austenmostly as a kind of comforter, a marker of ethical centrality and reassurancein a world without much in the way of moral piloting or "emotional intelli-gence." Austen famously desiderated "three or four families in a country vil-lage" as good "casting ground" for a novelist, and here, in a slightly differentregister, is a version of that modest scale and sense of "les petits gens de l'hi- Karen Joy Fowler's Adventure in Austenland stoire" (blame Prudie again, if you will, in the guise of Laforgue, not Baude-laire, this time). In his Guardian review, John Mullan has some acutely angledcomplaints about the work, but one of them, that "Fowler does not contriveany pleasing symmetries between her stories and Austen's" (27), might itselfbe a source of pleasure for a reader who wishes to be "teased out of thought,"as Keats might put it. 1. According to Paula Marantz Cohen, herself something of an "Austen club" novelist, the noveloffers "Jane Austen's social microcosm reduced to an even smaller microcosm" in a short review("courtship Plots"), in the TLS, October 29, 2004, 22.
Austen, Jane. The Novels of Jane Austen. Ed.
Johnson, Claudia L. "The Divine R.W. Chapman. 3rd ed. Oxford: OUP, Miss Jane: Jane Austen, Janeites and the Discipline of Novel Studies." Boundary 2,23 (Fall, 1996), 143-63. Butler, Marilyn. "Jane Austen." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: From the Keats, John. Selected Letters. Ed. Robert Earliest Times to the Year 2000. Ed. H.C.G.
Gittings and Jon Mee. Oxford: OUP, Matthew and Brian Harrison: Vol. 2.
Oxford: OUP, 2004. 959-78. Mullan, John. "An Altogether Bad Idea." Fowler, Karen Joy. The Jane Austen Book Guardian [Review section], 30 October Club. New York: G. P. Puttnam's Sons,

Source: http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/printed/number26/neill.pdf

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Migraine Prophylactic Guideline Summary for Primary Care Physicians - Section IVTamara Pringsheim1, W. Jeptha Davenport1, Gordon Mackie2, Irene Worthington3, Michel Aubé4, Suzanne N. Christie5, Jonathan Gladstone6, Werner J. Becker1 on behalf of the Canadian Headache Society Prophylactic Guidelines Development Group