Monday, October 15, 2007

An Open Letter Miss Austen

Miss Austen, I adore you. Many a pleasant hour have I spent perusing your stories, much to the alarm of my guardian, who thinks novel reading a pernicious habit, most especially distressing in young women. I do not share his alarm; I am neither young, nor an avid reader of novels alone. I am at my studies regularly - though I must admit some delinquency of late. I cannot put five words together without stopping to scratch out the four and begin again.

Now, Miss A, I must come to a point. Will you kindly leave off interfering with my diction, grammatical construction, and punctuation -- not to say my fragile feminine constitution?

Miss A, since I took to my bed (wind in the east here - much rattling of the eaves; much too intemperate for a lady to be out of doors on any account) to reread your many novels, I find myself unable to stir out of my chambers even for a vial of salts or a yard of muslin. I am seriously indisposed. I cannot lay down Emma. I can scarce draw breath at the thought of reaching its conclusion - and in turn, reaching for Pride and Prejudice (!) I am all in dishabille; not once have I taken a call or attended my studies, nor engaged in any of that social intercourse customary to ladies of my situation and temper. My better friends, Lola and Merry, are afraid I am quite ill, as I have offered no account of myself in weeks.

And now, Miss A. Heavens no. By social intercourse, I do most assuredly not mean intercourse of a, forgive me, coarse, free sprited, sort - not the modern construction, sport fucking. To even think it gives credit to all my guardian's admonishments: that novels erode the steadfast moral taste of ladies. I meant only that I have not been out visiting.

And if my guardian had the slightest notion of such a change, either of habit of moral steadiness, it might prevent his permitting me to read you novels. Is this to be borne? It shall not be! Govern your thoughts, Miss A!

I am determined, Miss A, not to walk out of doors until I have finished your complete collection. Indeed, I am unfit for company until I am run out of books. Just yesterday, when Bibi asked (though, admittedly, in other terms) whether I was disposed to like her new acquaintance at the public house - the one with the studded belt and the effusion of piercings? Well. I was all astonishment. I saw nothing agreeable in him at all. Not wanting to disappoint my dearest Bee, I gave myself leave to admit the tiniest misrepresentation of my thoughts to reach her ear. "Bee, dearest, I give you leave to like him. You have liked many a stupider person."

Her temper after hearing me express myself thus, I cannot vouch for, for she was drawn out to dance by that same subject, and proceeded to jig in the modern way, you know, to an new favorite of hers, "Gimme More." It was then I knew that until I have quite set down your novels, I am unfit for company. All my thoughts are pulled to pieces and reset in the most animated and effusive language - language that you, Miss A, have deliberately put into my unwitting (and I might add, most unwilling) head.

Having thus expressed my intentions, then, of finishing each of your fine effusions of fancy, will you not indulge me in the hope that you might leave off re-arranging both my letters and my manner of expressing myself in company? For, Miss A, if you cannot promise it, I cannot promise ever to stir our of doors again. To do so would be insensitive to the comfort of my dear friends, not to say embarrassing for myself.

I await your compliance, Miss A. Do not think me such a simpleton that I disbelieve in your power to act judiciously from the grave. All your flights of fancy, most especially, Northanger Abbey, prove quite the opposite.

Most affectionately, devotedly, effusively yours, forever, (and ever) ccc&c,

Miss Nina Elizabeth Jane Moreland Courtney Corrigan


ps kindly direct your reply to Southerton, as I have been visiting here as the guest of Mr. C when I return back to town, Wednesday, fortnight. And you know I beg to have a line from you much before then.

1 comment:

mohanalakshmi said...

Did you see JANE? It was interesting... and full of social conundrums.

And the "uninterfered with man parts" reminded me of all our talks in NC and Pgh and .... everywhere.

Glad to know people still rely on you for these things!