Nuclear Catastrophe & The Jane Austen Effect

For once I’m not referring to Jane Austen in the romantic, scenic, fashion or even cinematic sense. By The Jane Austen Effect I mean the idea that Jane Austen created an entire enclosed — some would say claustrophobic — world for her characters. Of course, you could argue, this reflects the reality of women in her time, trapped inside a perimeter that pretty much stopped at the very trimmed hedges bordering the family garden. But her characters were usually smart, engaged women, the type of people who, if not interested in the machinations of the outside world, would at least be interested in news from it. News about, for instance, what was going on in the war with Napoleon that England was waging at the time the books were written. Yet Jane Austen chose to keep her characters under the authorial bell jar, allowing just enough air to enter the narrative to keep everyone from suffocating, including the reader.

Sometimes I feel, in a far less literary way of course, the same way about this blog. I consider topics for my more extended posts: thoughts on the latest issue of Elle Decor, that agate paperweight for sale from Kelly Wearstler, what’s going on with all that linen at Restoration Hardware, and much much more from the crowded warehouse of my mind — and all of it seems pretty ridiculous. Especially when I woke up this morning with a dream about a nuclear plant exploding and the resulting chaos fresh as though it really happened. Then I realized — wait, it is happening — somewhere Out There, where real people live and suffer, and have to flee the unthinkable.

So, my acknowledgement of the ephemeral nature of this blog — may it prove to be a respite from the real world, in the best sense. And may I come near the very high mark set by Jane Austen herself in chronicling life under glass, one papered wall at a time.

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