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Sunday, February 22

Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Favorite Library

Miss Jane Fairfax's superior singing and talent at the pianoforte won the throwdown for her against Mary Crawford and her harp. We wonder what the outcome would have been had we pitted Jane against Georgianna Darcy? The next Jane Austen Character Throwdown compares a Jane Austen fictional character for the first time to an actual person. This week we ask: Whose library do you prefer? Mr. Bennet's inner sanctum, which helped to develop Lizzy's fine mind, or Rev. Austen's influential library, which inspired Jane Austen's creativity?
Favorite Library

Mr.Bennet's Library, Pride and Prejudice
When we think of Mr. Bennet we think of him reading or answering his mail in his ground floor library, surrounded by a quantity of serious books. He stayed there most of the day regardless of time, coming out only for dinner or appointments. Mr. Bennet liked to have the library to himself, though Lizzy and Jane were always welcome. He was also willing to conduct business within his sanctum, especially in regard to seeing his daughters settled, and spoke most willingly to Mr. Bingley and with some surprise to Mr. Darcy. Mr. Collins, however, was another matter: "Mr. Collins was to attend them, at the request of Mr. Bennet, who was most anxious to get rid of him, and have his library to himself; for thither Mr. Collins had followed him after breakfast; and there he would continue, nominally engaged with one of the largest folios in the collection, but really talking to Mr. Bennet, with little cessation, of his house and garden at Hunsford. Such doings discomposed Mr. Bennet exceedingly. In his library he had been always sure of leisure and tranquility; and though prepared, as he told Elizabeth, to meet with folly and conceit in every other room of the house, he was used to be free from them there"

Rev. Austen’s Library, Steventon Parsonage
Jane Austen grew up in a bookish family. Rev. Austen was a great reader (and writer of sermons) and he read aloud to his children.When her family moved to Bath, Jane's father sold or gave away over 500 books from his vast library, which must have crammed the parsonage in Steventon. Under her father's direction, Jane read English, classical and foreign literature by such authors as Samuel Johnson, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Alexander Pope, George Crabbe, William Cowper, and William Shakespeare. Jane was also encouraged to buy subscriptions to the popular novels written by Frances Burney, Sarah Harriet Burney, Maria Edgeworth and Ann Radcliffe. Rev. Austen's library at Steventon provided inspiration for the short satirical sketches Jane wrote as a girl and with which she entertained the family. To entertain each other, the close knit Austen family would also read to each other, play games, and produce plays. One imagines that Rev. Austen's library played an important part in devising these amusements. free polls
Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Favorite Library
Mr. Bennet's Rev. George Austen's

During the Georgian era, serious private libraries were expected to showcase a variety of rare volumes, classics, topics, and great authors in a number of languages, including Latin, Greek, and French. Thomas Jefferson's library is representative of the great libraries of the world. His extensive collection formed the basis for The Library of Congress in the United States. View a list of his books at this link. One imagines that Rev. Austen and Mr. Bennet collected many of the books listed by Mr. Jefferson.

Posted by Vic, Jane Austen's World


Christine said...

Where would we be without Rev. Austen's library? As much as I appreciate Mr. Bennet's inner sanctum, I have to vote for the collection that influenced Jane herself.

These polls are so fun!

Anna said...

I would love to be in the library of Mr. Darcy :D Haha, but I must admit that a chance to meet Mr. Darcy or being at Pemberley influence my choice of that...

Emma Hox said...

I love Elizabeth Bennet's mind so I must say that I would love to be in Mr. Bennet's library.

...But like Anna the thought of running into Mr. Darcy may have inspired that.

Nonna said...

I have to go with Rev. Austen's library. This is where Jane's education was formed and flourished. Her love of books grew as her love of the written word took flight, giving us the pleasure of seeing the fruits of that foundation in her own wonderful books !

As for Mr. Bennet, his refuge served it's purpose escape from life around him into the unending world of books, where he could enjoy in peace...