Last weekend we came back from a visit to our friends in Missouri. These are the friends that used to live across the street from us, and were our long-lost brethren in many ways, and I never thought while they lived here that they would ever move away. But they did.
So now we visit them, and they come to see us, and my friend K. and I do the mom version of the Vulcan mind-meld and drink tea and coffee and laugh at our children.
Anyway, K. gave me a book for a present when we got to her house, and I was delighted. I wonder sometimes if I will ever cease to be delighted by books, especially when I look at my bookcases and counters and tabletops covered in them, but I came home from Missouri with bags of new ones I purchased from the terrific thrift stores up there. The book K. gave to me is the prize of them all. It is called Miniatures and Morals: the Christian Novels of Jane Austen by Peter Leithart.
We have Peter Leithart's commentary on six Shakespeare plays, and have been pleased to add him to the conversation at our house. I didn't even realize he had an Austen commentary until K. handed me a copy.
"One for you and one for me," she smiled.
See. What a great friend.
I begin to see the possibilities for this book. With two girls fixing to be thirteen and sixteen at the beginning of the fall, and a third daughter coming up fast behind, I am always on the lookout for another Beauty and Virtue book. You know the kind. How to Have Good Manners and Good Hygiene, Take Care of Things, Serve Others, and Glorify God in Everything You Do. And Other Fun Stuff...
Okay, just kidding. :D
Actually, I like those kinds of books. If only life could be reduced to a formula. But then it would not be lavish and imaginative and joyful. And unpredictable.
With this new Jane Austen commentary, I sense a different kind of Beauty and Virtue experience. We have read (and watched) and enjoyed (and dissected) the Austen novels for years, but I hope Mr. Leithart's insight will provide us an additional road map through the qualities of light and truth-- as well as darkness and deception-- in her books.
We plan to read aloud three novels during the first hour next year:
Pride and Prejudice ("Morals and Manners, Marriage and Money")
Emma ("Charity and the Deeper Game")
Northanger Abbey ("What Ideas Have You Been Admitting?")
Ooh, I'm so excited. Now if only Mr. Leithart would write a commentary for Sir Walter Scott's novels...