Leading Up to Jane Austen's Birthday...

Jane Austen’s 235th Birthday Celebration at JASNA GCR

Victoria here. On Saturday, December 4, 2010, a packed house of Jane Austen aficionados met at Chicago’s Fortnightly to celebrate her birth on December 16, 1775.

The Fortnightly, a woman’s club founded in 1873, was decorated for the holidays in a splendid array of tasteful sparkle.

Jane Hunt
The eager celebrants enjoyed a program begun by JASNA CGR Area coordinator Jeffrey Nigro of the Chicago Art Institute and Elisabeth Lenckos, of the University of Chicago. Jane Hunt, a member of the club and the JA society gave us a brief history of the organization, on E. Bellevue Place in the historic landmark Bryan Lathrop House in downtown Chicago.


Cathy Feldman introduced the afternoon’s speaker, Michaelangelo Allocca, also of the University of Chicago, who discussed: Are you Sure They Are All Horrid? Austen’s Degrees of Disagreeability.”

Mr. Allocca cited a number of uses of the word HORRID in Northanger Abbey, having at least three distinct definitions. When speaking of the gothic novels to which they were addicted, Catherine and Isabella use HORRID to mean wonderful, full of horror, awesome and meeting all their expectations. Later in the novel HORRID is used to mean bad in the sense of naughty or ungentlemanly behavior, and thirdly, to mean morally reprehensible and blameworthy.

Karla Benton, William Phillips
Mr. Allocca, later joined by questioners from the audience, then dissected various unsavory characters in Austen’s Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey, defining to which version of HORRID each one belongs. It was a lively and entertaining talk.









Little did we know what richness still awaited us, as we passed through the tea buffet with its delicious finger food – both savory and sweet. I was a particularly fan of the chicken salad with cranberries, something I doubt that Jane Austen ever tasted. And as for the chocolate dipped strawberries, not even Mrs. Elton could have surpassed the luscious fruits.


Now I await a second birthday celebration on December 11m at the North Hills Country Club when JASNA-WI has a luncheon in honor of our beloved author. Aren’t I lucky to belong to TWO JASNA chapters????

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