Bath: Pleasure Gardens

Spent the morning in the beautiful Sydney Gardens here in Bath for Jane class, discussing the significance of pleasure gardens in Georgian England.  The gardens have been here since Austen lived here herself, in fact she lived right across the street from them, and wrote to her sister Cassandra that she was so thrilled about their new house because they could have breakfast in the gardens every day! At the time the gardens were a center for daytime pastimes, such as tea, hot air balloons (!), promenading, and all sorts of socializing. There was also a ball room and parties and concerts were frequently held there. There was even a pit for an orchestra! The gardens are still beautifully kept, and the river Avon runs right through them.

We also talked a ton about the significance of outside space and walking in Austen's novels, particularly Pride and Prejudice. I came to the conclusion that as most of Elizabeth and Darcy's significant moments happen outside, either during walks or in some sort of natural space, Austen uses the outdoors as liminal space. Those moments are transitional moments for their relationship, moments of realization and changing dynamics. Therefore, as good readers of Austen, we should be able to predict that when Darcy proposes to Lizzie in the drawing room initially, rather than some kind of outdoor liminal space, he will fail. Interestingly, the recent movie with Keira Knightley and Michael Macfadyen depicts that scene happening in a rotunda in a field, but that is not true to Austen's original portrayal in the book.

In other, probably not suprising, news--I have fallen in love (again) with Pride and Prejudice. Read almost the entire novel in a day yesterday...