Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Monday, 12 February 2007

Editions and Crumpets

It cannot be a coincidence that both the Heavenly Muse and the humble kettle sing. Upon filling our third teapot of the day (Assam, loose leaf, after a morning and lunchtime of splendid English Breakfast Tea), our eye caught the spine of a book upon our shelves that we had bought some months ago, and had placed happily thereupon – and, I am afraid, inexcusably forgotten all about in the intervening time. It is a beautiful book. We took it down, and read; and drank our tea, and read some more; and are still reading, and still drinking; and the muse and the kettle have warmed us together into a delightful, delicious, exquisite passion we feel we cannot stop from sharing.

Dr Johnson was scandalised by Garrick treating books like objects, and of course was right in recommending that people don’t eat their poached eggs off them, or lardle the pages with jam and butter, or try and wash with them, or whatever it was he said. This would be ridiculous. Yet books are of course inescapably objects, for all the ascetics that would have us ignore this, and there is no shame in taking joy in both the outward and inward condition of a tome. We believe that these ascetics have very ugly wives, and by a simple act of logical transposition are merely trying to defend in this realm the idea of being internally nice and outwardly nasty that consoles them in another. They should leave books alone and convince their wives into niqabs, if that is their concern. Outfitters are readily available in Birmingham.

You will have read the book we are recommending you purchase and read with good tea, but not, however, in this form. It is the Complete Novels of Jane Austen. It is published by Penguin. But stop. I can’t believe you just scoffed at me. Lower that eyebrow now, if you please. Ladies and minors are present, and your rolling eyes are scaring them.

It isn’t the repulsive BBC-cover-design omnibus paperback they put out a while back. It is a fresh, brand new, deluxe edition, with thick, milky paper (every page cut raggedly at the edge), classic font, bound in a Faber-style cover (paperback plus hardcover-esque flaps) with strips of Regency wallpaper designs streaking across it, completed with a tasteful little painting of a lady kissing her (um, let's hope) husband. It is heavy in the hand, but not at all rigid: it falls open languidly, like a lady retiring upon a couch: the pages smell of some ancient mill: it was sold in 2006, but might have come from the shelves of Parnassus: it gives to Ms Austen’s pert, perfected style a suitable sensation of louche, delicious afternoons spent reading on a garden bench.

It is available in all good bookshops now. If your local one doesn’t have it , try setting fire to an effigy of them or something.


The Monarchist said...

I'm a huge Jane Austen fan, but not of ugly softbacks or hardcover dustjackets. I just had to take that crumpet out, Sir Walter, because it was impeding your otherwise wonderful post. My apologies.

Invictus_88 said...

I cannot bear Jane Austen, I really cannot.

The nature of the book however, and more tellingly your sympathetic description of it, is deeply reassuring.

We may all be heading inexorably downhill, but outposts remain!

Unrepentant Jacobite said...

And I, for one, relish Miss Austin, whether in book or movie form.

Charming lady.