Saturday, March 26, 2011

Good company

'My idea of good company, Mr Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.'
'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company, that is the best.'

An exchange between Anne Elliot and her cousin/suitor William Elliot from Persuasion, Chapter 16.

I spent the afternoon in the best sort of company - a roomful of clever, well-informed people, all of whom excel at conversation. That is what happens when you attend a meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). Discussions at my table involved The King's Speech (Colin Firth having a special place in the hearts of nearly all Janeites), e-readers (with an impromptu Nook demo by my friend Renee), books and audiobooks (Soulless by Gail Carriger, The Help by Kathryn Stockett), iPods and iPhones, Dragoncon, CASTLE (the TV show) - with an emphasis on Nathan Fillion - the Carte Noire coffee breaks, which (sadly) appear to have disappeared from the interweb (*shakes fist at Carte Noire*), the poetry readings by Matthew MacFadyen, Damien Lewis and others available on YouTube, the Smart Bitches' blog, and more.

Our speaker, Iris Lutz, is the current president of JASNA, and she gave a presentation about the houses with which Austen was familiar in her lifetime, accompanied by a slideshow presentation relating to those homes. It was quite interesting, and Lutz's argument as to why she believes Chatsworth is not the model for Pemberley was compelling, and I am inclined to agree with her.

I always find myself wishing our meetings were more numerous, given what a spectacularly good time they are when they occur. And Nancy, the woman who sat to my left, assured me that the meetings of the Dickens Society (to which she also belongs) are similarly interesting.

It's exhilarating to spend the day in the company of intelligent people who enjoy reading. There's something to be said for sharing conversation with so many folks with similar interests - and with such divergent tastes!

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