A. Marie Sprayberry, Anna Quindlen, books, Cornel West, Daniel James Cole, Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, JASNA AGM 2012, Jeffrey A. Nigro, Lady Susan, literature, Marilyn Francus, Sarah Emsley, Susan Allen Ford, Undine Spragg, William Phillips
Several essays from this year’s fabulous JASNA AGM in New York (“Sex, Money and Power in Jane Austen’s Fiction”) are now available in Persuasions On-Line. You can read about Jane Austen and Regency Fashion, Madame de Staël, the Prince Regent, Austen’s characters’ income, and Gothic reading in essays by Daniel James Cole, Jeffrey A. Nigro and William Phillips, A. Marie Sprayberry, Marilyn Francus, and Susan Allen Ford. More AGM papers, including the plenary addresses by Anna Quindlen and Cornel West, will be published in Persuasions in the Spring. In her Editor’s Note, Susan Allen Ford writes about “the different operations—and the different meanings—of sex, money, and power in Jane Austen’s daily world” in the letter in which Austen says, “P. & P. is sold.”
You can also read my AGM paper in this issue of Persuasions On-Line: “‘Nothing against her, but her Husband & her Conscience’: Jane Austen’s Lady Susan in Edith Wharton’s Old New York.” Here’s the beginning:
It’s fanciful to imagine Jane Austen’s anti-heroine Lady Susan Vernon in New York City. If I were writing an Austen sequel, I might try it: Lady Susan leaves her aristocratic husband in Europe, visits relatives in New York, and goes to the opera; Newland Archer falls in love with her instead of with Ellen Olenska, and she uses her “‘happy command of Language’” to “‘make Black appear White’” (Later Manuscripts 11-12), thus persuading him of her innocence just as she persuaded Reginald De Courcy. But I am not writing a sequel to Lady Susan, or an alternate version of Edith Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence; instead, I’m going to suggest that the anti-heroine of Wharton’s 1913 novel The Custom of the Country bears a strong resemblance to Lady Susan. Undine Spragg, beautiful, charming, manipulative, and in search of the best of the power and pleasure that New York can offer, is Wharton’s version of the Austen character most obsessed with marriage as a game of using ambition and sexual power to “trade up” for more money and social power. Undine is an incarnation of Austen’s Lady Susan in the society of Edith Wharton’s Old New York—in The Custom of the Country, Wharton has written a kind of “Austen sequel.” Read more here.