January 27th, 2013 is a big anniversary. Time to celebrate! I plan to rise early and spend a few quiet hours curled up with a copy of Persusion (I’ve read P&P lately, and winter puts me in the mood for Captain Wentworth) while I listen to Mozart’s violin sonatas.
Austen is a strong alternative voice in this time of all-pervasive technology. She reveals the true threads that hold society and community together, and the actions that rent them. She teaches us manners, of course, but also how to duck them when necessary, in favor of something wilder. We typically turn to the Brontes when we want to be windswept, but Miss Austen knows her way through the wilderness (and the poultry yard); it is a misconception that her characters spend their days wandering about the drawing room. David Ehrenfeld notes that although she rarely comments on nature directly, “Nature in Jane Austen’s works is like nature in the Hebrew Bible: it is there as a constant presence, it is an essential fact of life, and because of this it is rarely separated out for special comment.” Time to read Austen again, and with a fresh ear.
And Mozart! In the classical music world Beethoven gets all the “wild man” credit, but Mozart spent his short life composing in a frenzy, running all over Vienna through sun and snow on foot, with tiny pointed shoes. He felt the weather on his face and listened to the songs of birds. When he wrote Die Zauberflute, the “everyman” appears in the shape of Papageno, a feathered bird-man.
An auspicious day, indeed! How will you celebrate?