Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Balmy Breezes.

Forgive my lack of updates lately!
I've been busy in general, but last week specifically my absence can be explained by two sweet little words:
Murf was on vacation.
The sun was shining and the water was inviting.

Here are a few photos showcasing how I spent some of my time:

My view every morning:

Breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton:

A stop in at Lilly Pulitzer:

Dale Chihuly ceiling at the Norton Museum:

High tea at The Breakers:

The beauty of Worth Avenue's Vias:

Live models from local shops showing their wares during our meal at Ta-boo:

Lots of fun, many good memories, and a TAN for a souvenir!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Truth Universally Acknowledged

I have loved Jane Austen ever since 1995 (fifth grade) when A&E aired the BBC's epic interpretation of "Pride and Prejudice." This launched a lifetime of loving everything associated with that movie: Seeing Jennifer Ehle (that production's Lizzy Bennet) on Broadway for my 16th birthday; adoring all facets of Colin Firth, including his recent, stunning turn in Tom Ford's debut film "A Single Man"; Regency costumes; the soundtrack (which plays constantly on my iPod); and, of course, the other stories of Jane Austen.

As a Princeton student, sheer dumb luck allowed me to overlap with the tenure of Claudia Johnson, the Chair of the English department and a renowned Austen scholar. In my Sophomore year I took her course on Austen. Along with twice weekly lectures, I reveled in her presence for an extra hour each week during precept--small discussion groups led sometimes, though not always, by the professor. (If you ever needed a reason to go to Princeton this would be it: The frequent opportunity to sit in a precept, no larger than, say, 8 people, and discuss a single subject for hours with the world's foremost expert on that topic...I am still astounded at my good fortune in that regard.) Johnson's course one was of the most memorable and enjoyable of my life, allowing me to delve completely into Austen's marvelous, witty and somewhat bittersweet world, and securing forever my fascination with her unsurpassed skill as a writer. She has the reputation that she does through only 6 books and a small sampling of childhood writing (her Juvenilia), much of which was published posthumously; how many writers can make the same claim to fame?

On a recent Friday evening I went to the Morgan Library to see their exhibit entitled "A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy." As it turns out, of the over 3,000 letters Austen is believed to have written in her lifetime, the Morgan owns 51 of the 160 surviving epistles (more than any other institution). In the quiet period of the extended evening hours I took my time in reading Austen's original letters, penned in her own hand, to her sister Cassandra. I laughed at a silly note she wrote to her niece in which she spelled each word backwards (e.g. "I HSIW UOY A YPPAH WEN RAEY" for "I Wish You a Happy New Year"). Manuscripts, portraits and cartoons rounded out the exhibition. Her sharp wit and sheer brilliance is present and obvious in every article on display.

Photo via The Morgan Library

The Morgan commissioned a video in which leaders in each section of the humanities discuss their thoughts on Austen. Particularly enjoyable is Cornel West referring to Austen as "Sister Jane," and Fran Lebowitz stating:
"Writers who date date because the details date, and the details date because they're WRONG.
[Austen's] perceptions have no date because they're RIGHT."

(For those of you who cannot see it in person, you can view the film HERE.)

The exhibit runs through March 14. I urge you to go.

"Nobody minds having what is too good for them."