Monday, February 22, 2010

Attic Salt's Jane Austen Challenge

Reading Jane Austen's six novels is one of my 2010 reading resolutions. Now that Sense and Sensibility has arrived in the mail from Powell's Books, I'm ready to start reading. But first I'm going to lay out the parameters of my project, in case anyone wants to join in, and so you're aware that there is going to be a lot of Austen content on Attic Salt in the coming months. But don't worry, it won't be all Jane, all the time — this project doesn't mean that I won't be posting other reviews or content while the Jane Austen Challenge is going on. In fact I have a very exciting new series I'm getting ready to launch soon!

The project was borne of the fact that of Austen's novels, I have only read Emma previously, and after seeing A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy at the Morgan Library and Museum, I'm inspired by the effect Austen's work has had on so many writers. And yes — I am aware that reading all of Jane Austen's novels is the subject of a novel, The Jane Austen Book Club (which I haven't read) and a movie of the same name (which I have seen — unfortunately).

I will be reading Austen's books in the order they were published: Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Northanger Abbey (1817) and Persuasion (1817). I'm planning for a month to read each novel, and I'll make a schedule for each book.

Sense and Sensibility, March
Pride and Prejudice, April
Mansfield Park, May
Emma, June
• Northanger Abbey, July
• Persuasion, August 

I am reading the new Penguin Classics hardcover edition of Sense and Sensibility, and introduction and appendix aside, there are 349 pages of text. This comes in at less than 100 pages each week, which means there's still time to read other material as well (as we saw from Infinite Summer, when I undertake a major reading project, I need to be able to read other books on the side).

The Schedule
Saturday, March 6 - Chapters 1-13
Saturday, March 13 - Chapters 14-22
Saturday, March 20 - Chapters 23-34
Saturday, March 27 - Chapters 35-44
Wednesday, March 31 - Chapters 45-50

And this kind of thing is only any fun if other people participate as well — I've already convinced Todd (who also made the cute banner up at the top of this post) to join in, and a few other friends have also expressed interest. You're all invited to read along with us, joining for all six or as many as you want. I'll be posting on different topics as I progress through each novel, and I'll write a longer recap post at the end of each book. I'd also welcome guest posts on any topic related to Austen.

I think that's about it, and I'll see you back in this space to get started next Monday. Anyone in?


  1. I'm totally in. I will take any excuse to reread Austen, and one book a month is totally manageable, even with school reading. Moreover, it's the perfect chance to break in my new Penguin Classics editions of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma (ordered for me specially from England, in advance of its stateside release).

    Additionally: my friend and I are going down to NY to visit the Morgan in two weeks.

  2. Great! I'm excited you're in and jealous you're getting the new edition of Emma.

    And you will LOVE the Morgan show.

  3. I'm in! I've still only read Pride and Prejudice; this seems like a great opportunity to change that.

  4. I will play along for as long as I can, but I may have put these aside for ANDROID KARENINA.

  5. I'm excited you're all joining in! This is going to be fun.

  6. I'll read along. I haven't read Northanger Abbey or Persuasion so this will be a good reason to read them. Oh, and I'm always looking for an excuse to re-read Emma & Pride and Prejudice ;-) I may be French, but I did pass the A-levels in British literature!

  7. I'm in -- but would you be willing to use chapter numbers instead of/in addition to your page numbers as mile-markers? That would be helpful for those of us reading different editions... *waves Oxford Classics edition excitedly*

  8. Yes! I'll get an adjustment up soon. Good call, Emily.

  9. I was nosing around on behalf of a friend this afternoon, and I discovered that 5 more of the Coralie Bickford-Smith Penguin Classics are being released Stateside in March--- including Emma! So, if others are interested in the full Austen set, they'll be able to grab their own Emma well before we tackle it in May.

    There's also a great interview with the designer here.

    I'm just dying to know which books are the subject of her next, art-deco influenced project.

  10. Oh, I am definitely going to join in - it sounds like fun!

  11. Margaret, thanks for the link to the interview! it looks like some great new editions will be coming out here soon - I love the clocks on "Oliver Twist," (which I haven't read) and parrots on "Treasure Island" (which I have - I have a soft spot for Robert Louis Stevenson).

  12. I've updated the schedule to reflect chapters, not pages. It makes the reading schedule a bit uneven, since I stopped at chapter or volume breaks, but I this will make it much easier for everyone to follow along.

  13. I love Robert Louis Stevenson too-- I wrote my English thesis (don't be impressed, it was only 12 pages) on The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I haven't read Treasure Island yet, though, which I really need to do. As for the editions themselves, I think the wave pattern on The Odyssey is just stunning.

  14. Latecomer here, but I'm totally in for the first book, as I fortunately have a copy of Sense & Sensibility that someone else left here in my apartment in China. Looking forward to diving in!

  15. Welcome, Marjorie! The only Austen I've read previously, "Emma," I've read with you in Tutorial, so I'm excited for this one as well.