Posts Tagged ‘Jane Austin’

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

For the past ten years or so, I have been working on creating the perfect guest list for a dinner party in the afterlife.

I’ve decided to limit it to a party of six, mostly because my friend and restaurant manager extraordinaire Leah has informed me that is the best number of guests.

Once I settle in to the afterlife and establish a routine, my first obstacle will be determining the finest restaurants, and whether or not food is consumed. I’m hopeful that the film Defending Your Life

Epictetusis correct in the expectation that dead people can eat all they like and never gain weight. Once I’m sure I can get a good table, I plan to send elegant invitations to my carefully selected guests:

Ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus

English satirist Jonathan Swift 250px-Jonathan_Swift_by_Charles_Jervas_detail

English novelist Jane Austen

American Humorist Mark Twain

And American social activist Martin Luther King, Jr.

These five illustrious guests, plus myself, will certainly create sparkling conversation, an idyllic party of six to liven up the tedium of death.

Like any good host, I was careful when selecting my guests. Although I wanted to include some favorite visual artists, they can be prickly. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to meet Picasso for drinks, but something tells me he’d get too drunk at dinner and offend Jane Austen, either physically, verbally, or both. Most of the other artists whose work I admire tend to be reclusive, difficult, or downright weird. Another guest I initially considered including was Oscar Wilde, but I suspect he’d want to dominate the conversation all night. After he’d interrupted Epictetus for the third time, laughing eagerly at his own wit, we’d all end up rolling our eyes in Wilde’s direction. And, while I love music, my knowledge in this area is limited, and I’m afraid any notable musician might want to talk about music at great depth all the while subtly insulting everyone else’s musical taste. I mean, I know it’s not technically good, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Schubert tell me ABBA’s oeuvre is worthless.

Jane-Austen-9192819-1-402This dinner party offers so much potential enjoyment. Like so many of her devoted readers, I am truly interested in Jane Austen the woman. She is reported to have been funny and friendly, and while not 1289926514-Mark Twainbeautiful, attractive and charming enough to be excellent company. I don’t know if she and Twain will have already settled their differences related to his rather stinging remarks, but I imagine the two of them could get along quite well in the right circumstances, and I am fairly certain she could match him in conversation. As the daughter of a preacher, Austen will have no trouble talking doctrine with the Reverends Swift and King. I suspect that the inclusion of so many religious thinkers would amuse my mother, who thinks I’m past help afterlife-speaking, but once dead, all speculation will be revealed as either truth or fiction, so I expect to have a good laugh one way or the other. Epictetus might seem like the odd man at the table, but his pragmatic approach to philosophy will be just what we need if Twain gets spiteful, Swift gets preachy, or Austen flirts too disgracefully with Martin Luther King, Jr.

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My guest list thus perfected, I am now content to spend the rest of my terrestrial life contemplating the details. Naturally, I’d want to sit and talk to any one of these remarkably complex, deeply fascinating, and meaningfully productive individuals one-on-one, but the fun of the dinner would offer the added pleasure of watching them interact with one another. Here’s hoping the afterlife is BYOB.

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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

I am the youngest in my family; I have four older sisters and two older brothers. Not enough is said about the remarkable love and friendship siblings share.lunt

Perhaps this is why I admire Jane Austen. She was a devoted sister, and her characters often display a profound attachment to their favorite siblings. Siblings are our first playmates, teachers, and tormentors. It is one of the great joys of my life that I can still spend the holidays with all six of my exceptional, magnificent siblings. We are all unique, but our shared history created a profound connection that surpasses any differences. Perhaps what I love most of all is the fact that we still love each other so well.

How can I enumerate all of the wonderful attributes my siblings possess? Naturally, the list could never be complete; our relationships constantly change and evolve with time.  The ways I interacted with my siblings (all older) in my youth were primarily dictated by who had time to spend with me. When I was quite young, my older sisters Betsy and Barbara were my affectionate caretakers. My brother Ralph drove me to the places too far away to walk (choir practice every Monday night for years—years!).  My brother Bobby taught me how to ride a bike in the church parking lot up the road. Margo and Theresa seemed perpetually busy with either sports or boyfriends, but I recall a tremendous amount of sharing, borrowing, and out-right stealing of belongings now lost to a refuse pile.

Many of the memories I cherish embody the lovable quirks of each sibling. My eldest sister, Betsy, was burdened in many ways by her role as the oldest of seven children; she was expected to be responsible, in charge. However, she can be wildly spontaneous. A favorite memory is the day Betsy, Theresa, and I “played hooky.”  I was in middle school. Theresa was in high school. Betsy was already out of college, a working woman.

Surprisingly, she decided we all needed a day off from our obligations (the paper-thin excuse was that all the towels were dirty). Skipping school was an enormously rebellious act in my family—the total number of school days I missed from kindergarten through graduate school is less than 20. But, on this strange and extraordinary day, Betsy wanted to rebel, so we did. We took her small car, the “little red Chevette,” which she drove uncommonly fast.  We cranked the radio and sang along. We were aimless; we drove to the park, to the lake. We bought every treat imaginable at a convenient store and sat and ate and talked. The day seemed to stretch out endlessly. We did literally whatever we wanted. It was a day of impossible freedom summoned magically into existence by my “responsible” older sister Betsy. I’ll never forget it.

To be continued. . .next up: Ralph’s sensitive nature and dreadful singing.