Thursday, June 5, 2008

Jane Austen and Quakers

Part of my goal with for I call "my year off" (that began mid-September) was to look at what evolution would take place during this season of "life-making."

Well, I never expected to end up moving to Ohio! But certainly my being "free" has facilitated the move.

Right now, I find my cyberspace interest moving away from the Jesus Creed blog (which I will always be fond of) and toward the Janeites list serve. The Janeites are Jane Austen enthusiasts (some might call them fanatics) who love to talk about all things Austen.

I have had more than a passing interest in the great Jane, as a friend labels her, or JA, as I like to call her. My first graduate seminar in English literature was on Jane Austen and largely due to that experience I ditched my fellowship to study international relations (read: warfare) at George Washington University and made the fateful decision to throw myself into a graduate program in that lucrative field of English literature. My life has not been the same since. I hasten to add: despite a graduate degree (masters) in English, I haven't yet starved.

A part of me wants to force myself to stay with Jesus Creed. But a wiser voice says "follow your (cyberspace) passions." And so I shall. I shall continue to read JC with great interest and my heart will continue to be with those Creeders, but, for a time at least, back to the beloved Jane.

Quakerism remains a strong interest, and as fate would have it, the threads of Jane Austen and Quakerism are meeting at Olney. I read on the Olney web site that the school's name comes from a poem by a long dead Taber. I couldn't find the poem on the Web. However, out of curiosity, I googled Olney, Maryland, home of Sandy Spring Friends School, to find out the history of the town's name.

It was named, according to the site, for the poet Cowper's hometown of Olney, in England. Cowper was a great friend of the anti-slavery movement and wrote at least one poem against slavery.

The connection to JA: She was a devoted fan of Cowper's poetry.

Way cool.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is so gratifying when the things we love overlap (ie Jane and the Quakers)
Which is your favorite? I deeply enjoy all her novels (and her very droll _History of England_) but if I had to choose, I love _Persuasion_ the best.