Welcome back to The Literary Life podcast with Angelina Stanford, Cindy Rollins and Thomas Banks. Today our hosts embark on a new series of discussions as we read through Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park together. To view the schedule for the episodes in this series, see our Upcoming Events page.
Our hosts open the conversation with their first experience with this book and some thoughts on why people may struggle with Mansfield Park more than any other Austen novel. Angelina highlights the similarities some people note between Austen and Shakespeare and how this book illustrates that point. Thomas responds to criticisms that Fanny is a “prig.” Cindy brings up the importance of place in this book thematically. Other ideas they discuss in this episode are moving from blindness to sight, the importance of triangles in this book, and appearances versus reality.
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Many come to wish their tower a well…W. H. Auden, from “The Quest”
Sadly, we do not have a Christian culture today that easily discriminates between a person of spiritual depth and a person of raw talent. Like the wheat and the tares of Jesus’ parable, they can be difficult to distinguish. The result is that more than a few people can be fooled into thinking they are being influenced by a spiritual giant when, in fact, they are being manipulated by a dwarf.Gordon MacDonald
Would you think I was joking if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sensible thing to do? But I would rather get away from that whole idea of clocks. We all want to progress. But progress mean getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man… If you look at the present state of the big mistake. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.C. S. Lewis
by A. E. Stallings
Fairy tales are full of impossible tasks:
Gather the chin hairs of a man-eating goat,
Or cross a sulphuric lake in a leaky boat,
Select the prince from a row of identical masks,
Tiptoe up to a dragon where it basks
And snatch its bone; count dust specks, mote by mote,
Or learn the phone directory by rote.
Always it’s impossible what someone asks—
You have to fight magic with magic. You have to believe
That you have something impossible up your sleeve,
The language of snakes, perhaps, an invisible cloak,
An army of ants at your beck, or a lethal joke,
The will to do whatever must be done:
Marry a monster. Hand over your firstborn son.
As printed in Poetry Magazine, March 2010
Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald
Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
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