A Clear Vision

O God of Earth and Altar 

O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter.
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide;
Take not Thy thunder from us;
But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men;
From sale and profanation
Of honor and the sword;
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord.

Tie in a living tether,
The prince and priest and thrall;
Bind all our lives together,
Smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation
Aflame with faith, and free,
Lift up a living nation,
A single sword to Thee.

Powerful, unabashed words, aren’t they? This is actually a hymn (For music, click here) out of Cantus Christi, the hymnal my church uses. One of the things I appreciate about Cantus Christi is the range of the hymnody. From the Psalms through the latin 3rd century chants and confessions, and up to 2000 AD, the collection is meaty in conception and musically challenging at times. Most Sunday mornings I must wipe tears from my face and assure my fellow worshippers that I’m fine, only that I cannot stop tears that rise from the many hymns of bold truth and the beauty of fitly strung words. They sing faith and conviction into my heart. “O God of Earth and Altar” is one of those hymns.

When would you think it was written? In some ways it seems ancient and in other ways like this morning’s news. The immediacy of the issues for our day is undeniable.

-1906-   The music is  from a tune called Kings Lynn described as “traditional English melody. ” The words were penned by G.K. Chesterton, a prolific writer whose work is cataloged by Wikipedia as “…around 80 books, several hundred poems, some 200 short stories, 4000 essays, and several plays. He was a literary and social critic, historian, playwright, novelist, Catholic theologian and apologist, debater, and mystery writer. He was a columnist for the Daily News, the Illustrated London News, and his own paper, G. K.’s Weekly; he also wrote articles for the Encyclopædia Britannica, including the entry on Charles Dickens and part of the entry on Humour in the 14th edition (1929). His best-known character is the priest-detective Father Brown, who appeared only in short stories, while The Man Who Was Thursday is arguably his best-known novel. He was a convinced Christian long before he was received into the Church, and Christian themes and symbolism appear in much of his writing.”

Chesterton is someone that, as a Christian and a writer, I’d like to know more about.

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But Will He Be Approved?

Chase Bank invitation to Mr Frederick Wentworth to apply for a credit card

Someone, somewhere is very confused. No, Frederick Wentworth is NOT employed at Wytherngate Press, although he is a very busy man within the novels the Press publishes. Or is it that author Susan Kaye has put so much blood, sweat, and tears into bringing  Capt. Wentworth to life, that he actually has come to life and is using the Press as his forwarding address?  Could he be desperately trying to set up a life in 21st century America and needing a line of credit? Will he be approved? Hmmm. Curiouser and curiouser!

One thing is for sure, we intend to keep a closer eye on our mailbox, and if he appears to claim his mail, we promise to get a photo…and the full story!

~~Pamela

Mr. Knightly and Winner #2

Mr Knightley

As many of you guessed, the actor who inspired wails in the tiniest actresses in Emma was Mark Strong/Mr. Knightly.  Perhaps that experience is why he has since played villains!

Several of you expressed dissatisfaction with Mssr. Strong as Emma’s Mr. Knightly, but I confess I like him the best and perhaps for the same reasons some have called him “stern,” though I never saw it. Well, actually, yes I have, and his characterization (or his director’s) rang true to me…much more so than Jeremy Northam’s version. When Strong’s Knightly says, “Badly done, Emma, badly done!” the weight of his censure is heavy, indeed. On the other hand, but in likewise seriousness, we have his portrayal of concern for Harriet’s shunning at the ball. Here is a man who feels his duties deeply and performs them from a tender heart. I just thought Mark Strong did that beautifully and conveyed throughout his patient love for Emma and desire for her real ‘improvement” in ways unplumbed by subsequent actors. I don’t know how he feels about his work in Emma, but I think it a highlight of his career. I can’t say that I’ve seen him in anything since that even came close! IMHO of course!

Naturally, these opinions beg the question of what Austen was meaning to portray in the person of Mr. Knightly. Peter Leithart, a Fellow of Theology and Literature at New Saint Andrews College, has named Emma, as “Perhaps the most Christian novel Austen wrote:

Emma is concerned with the relations of charity and truth: it is about “speaking the truth in love,” or  more precisely, about truth-speaking as the path to love. Everyone around Emma flatters her, admires her, and generally regards her as a perfect specimen of womanhood. Only Mr. Knightly sees her as the flawed young women she really is, and only he tells her so, often in very blunt terms. Mr. Knightly is the right man for Emma precisely because he speaks truth.”  Later in his essay he states: “Knightly is the guide (to community through charity and by speaking truth) here, the savior who delivers Emma from her own folly and at the same time ensures the survival of the community of neighbors in Highbury”

Sound like Mark Strong’s Knightly? To those of you who would like to read Leithart’s essays on the rest of Austen’s novels, please get yourself a copy of Miniatures & Morals. You are in for a treat! After all, his first chapter is entitled “Real Men Read Austen.”

Click here to take a look or purchase!        

 

So…drum roll…the winner of a copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It! , signed by moi, is in the mail to Stephanie Carrico. Thank you to all who entered and keep up with my thoughts here at Traipsing After Jane or at Jane Started It!

~Pamela

Art and Life

Christmas at Pemberley 1797...a great Christmas 2011 gift, especially for the younger Austen fan!

I was reminded recently how funny life can be, especially the “writing life” as it intersects “real life.” I know I’m not the only author who ever scanned airports and their book stores hoping to see one’s books on shelves or, more so, in traveler’s hands. On the other hand, rarely do I say anything about being an author when making an acquaintance for fear of the blank stare at the mention of my pen name or the patronizing “And what is it that you write, again?” But this past summer in rather unexpected ways, two instances occurred of my two lives bumping into each other in wonderfully serendipitous ways.

The first was at my nephew-by-marriage’s wedding. I was seated next to a couple at the rehearsal dinner whom I’d never met. We were making  the usual polite conversation, discovering how we were related to the wedding party when one of my brothers-in-law leaned into the conversation and announced, “You know, Pamela’s a writer.”   Great!, I thought. Now I’m going to have to explain to polite disinterest what exactly I write. (None-Janeites, as you have undoubtedly discovered, are extremely uninterested in Austen-inspired anything) So I launched into an apologetic for my work, “Are you familiar with Jane Austen? Well, I wrote P&P from Darcy’s point of view. My pen name is Pamela Aidan.”

The woman turned to face me and looked at me with widening eyes, “Do you mean to tell me,” she stuttered, “that I’m sitting next to thee Pamela Aidan, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman?”  Well, yeah, I admitted, amazed that she had actually heard of me. “I love your books,” she exclaimed. “They are on my bedside table at home. I’ve read and re-read them!” Wow, not only heard of me but liked my books–really liked them!  And she was a general public-type person not someone at an Austen conference or website! Wow!

The second incident occurred to one of my sons rather than myself, making it even more serendipity. A new adult fellowship leader at my son’s church introduced herself to the group and in the process recounted related the story of when she had been involved in a car accident and could do nothing but sit and wait for the police to arrive. To help keep herself calm during the wait, she pulled out the book she was reading and dove in, lessening her anxiety until help arrived. Later, as my son helped her put chairs away they talked about what they liked to read. “Have you ever read any Jane Austen?” she asked him.

“Funny, you should ask,” he replied. “My mom writes Austen-inspiried novels and I’ve edited books for her publishing business’s authors who write the same type of thing.”

“Who’s your mom; I may have read her.” He told her.

“Oh my…you won’t believe this,” she replied. “It was one of your mom’s books that I was reading while I waited for the police in my story.”

As an author, you never know what ripples may be stirred when you send your work out into the world. You hope they are good ones and pray they’ll be uplifting, comforting, or at least entertaining.  What a joy to have proof!

~Pamela

“Just an old, little man”

Andrew Davies

That was how screenwriter Andrew Davies described himself in response to the standing ovation that greeted his ascent to the stage podium at the jam-packed JASNA session so many were ecstatic to attend. I think the self-deprecation was genuine–for the most part, but the gimlet gleam in his eye as the applause continued may have revealed how welcome the audience’s denial of such a label truly was. Physically, Mr Davies IS little, not much taller  at all than myself at 5’2″ and he is a bonafide senior citizen, having been born in Wales in 1936. But the appearance of this “old, little man” necessitated the kind of security measures one would not expect to encounter at a Jane Austen conference. One’s JASNA credentials were checked at the door before entry was permitted. You see, there were real threats from the Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South/Wives and Daughters) crowd that they intended to crash the proceedings!

Davies talk was entirely delightful, just what one would hope in terms of inside stories and fond memories of his various film adaptations of the novels we love so well, delivered with an endearing modesty and continued love for each one. I especially appreciated his review of his Sense and Sensibility, which I had placed secondary to Emma Thompson’s version. But as he went through some of the difficulties in bringing that work to screen, illustrating them with clips from the movie, I came to a higher opinion about both his version and the actors in it. Although I will always love Thompson’s version, Davies’ version demands more from it’s actors in it’s subtlety of expression and faithfulness to a more restrained and circumspect portrayal that is likely closer to the manners and conduct of the time and the characters as Austen drew them.

Of the many tidbits of insider information that Mr Davies shared with the audience, here is the first of two I will pass on.

CONTEST!

A copy of Young Master Darcy will be awarded to the name drawn from a hat of the pool of correct answers. Enter by subscribing to my blog and then commenting on this post. Remember to include your email address in your comment/vote. Entries will be taken for two weeks (Nov 1 – 14th) and the winner announced on the 15th.

Which of the following three scenes from Davies’ dramatization of Pride and Prejudice is his personal favorite?  Good luck!

~~Pamela

Elizabeth reads and responds to the letter/Darcy's voice over

Darcy responds to Elizabeth & Georgiana in the Music room

Wet-shirted Darcy startled by Elizabeth's presence at Pemberley