Thursday, December 19, 2013

JADG - Loss of Countenance

We're up to the "two drinks" level on the Jane Austen Drinking Game! Loss of countenance was a big no-no in Austen's world. Keeping a straight face and one's emotions under control was a major sign of good manners, as is evident in just the title of Sense and Sensibility. I'm sure that most people today would not be able to explain the significance of those words in the context of the times. Sensibility was a full expression of what was received by one's senses. Marianne wore her heart on her sleeve and let her feelings rule over good sense, often to her detriment. In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs Bennett's "poor nerves" made life very wearing for everyone around her, even leading to Mr Darcy's opinion that the whole family were a bunch of kooks. Outbursts of anger, spontaneous professions of affection, or bursting into tears were a sign of an inability to rule over one's emotions and keep reason in charge.

One of my absolute favorite voices from the past is the British politician Edmund Burke (history nerd that I am). His speeches left his audiences with their jaws on the floor and his political essays cut right to the heart of contemporary issues in terms that knew no boundaries of time. He recognized full well the effects of the Enlightenment worship of Reason and the unchecked human emotion that had destroyed the philosophical foundations of the French Revolution. His book, Reflections On The Revolution In France, focused the blame on the "sensibility" of Rousseau, as opposed to the "natural feelings" of mankind, based on sound moral principles. A good free Googlebook, if you are so disposed, is Peter Stanlis' Edmund Burke: The Enlightenment and Revolution

An acquaintance of Mother Ackermann is well-known for her wild outbursts.