Sunday, May 9, 2021

A Jane Austen museum wants to discuss slavery. Will his fans listen?

Austen’s novels are about a narrow, upper class of British society and are set in picturesque villages, mostly away from the troubles of the outside world. “Jane Austen is now on a pedestal as an expression of something delightful, relaxed, beautiful, clever,” said Paula Marantz Cohen, an English professor and dean of the College of Honor at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Many of her fans said , He would like his stories to be remembered about a simpler time and place.

Some Austen scholars state that passages in his novels “Emma” and “Mansfield Park” indicated that he supported abolitionism, but others say it is unclear. Some of his characters survived. But his favorite authors – Samuel Johnson, Thomas Clarkson and William Cowper – were frenzied. According to “Jane Austen: A Life”, a book by Claire Tomlin, her family also had a connection to the slave trade in the 18th century, like almost all English families by any means.

Jane Austen Society President Sherard Cowper Coles addressed the subject of slavery, saying, “This is the story of England, and as our understanding grows, we must tell it and update it.”

But Mr Cowper Coles, a former diplomat who was Britain’s special representative in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009–10, warned: “It is not fair to expect people to have consciousness outside their time. But equally, in our time, we know about slavery, we are living in Minneapolis and many other places with its consequences. “

Frances Brooke, a tour guide in England who has led groups for Austen sites, said she was in favor of the museum, presenting more references to Austen’s time, but that she had to wear cotton and wear her Condemning taking sugar in tea would have “awakened” it. -Ism went too far. “Like the rest of us, Austen did things in her everyday life that conflict with her broader views of the world,” said Ms. Brook, who last visited the museum in 2017.

Prof. of Princeton. Johnson said that the museum’s effort in the context of Austen’s life would not increase readers’ enthusiasm for him.

“Just because you involve Austen in the mess of history doesn’t mean you don’t love him,” she said.

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