The “Austen Hermeneutic”: Old Mass v New Mass

There is a fun post over at St. Louis Catholic:

Mr. WickhamIf today’s faithful Catholic is represented by Elizabeth Bennet, bright, hopeful and coming of age, then the liturgical forms would have to be represented by Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham.

Mr. Wickham is immediately accessible, loves to talk–especially about how bad ol’ Darcy is– has some initial minor flash but soon proves to be tedious and unreliable.

Mr. Darcy at first glance looks stuffy and Mr. Darcycondescending, but proves over time to be noble, true, of high quality and charitable.

The ordinary and the extraordinary.

Yes, I actually thought this, and then typed it, and therefore I am a loser.  [No… people who can’t refer to Austen are the losers.]

P.S. Mrs. Bennet would represent Marek Bozek. Just sayin’.  [LOL]

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. capchoirgirl says:

    Yes! A post that combines my true loves–Catholicism and JANE!
    The perfect blog post.

  2. AnnaTrad51 says:

    I agree capchoirgirl but I preferred the A&E production.

  3. jennywren says:

    This made me laugh. Of course, it is always Mr. Darcy. Also preferred the A&E version which could be another example of the OF versus the EF. OF – cinema production with Keira Knightly fluff. EF – A&E version which takes its time to develop the beauty and mystery of the time.

  4. capchoirgirl says:

    Exactly. The A&E production is the best. The pictures of the new P&P–not so much. On my blog, I have the correct version. :)

  5. Irish says:

    For my money, the best version stars Greer Garson and Sir Lawrence Olivier, 1940. He brought just the right amount of haughtiness, something MacFadyen, as much as I like his acting, just couldn’t muster.

  6. Oh, come on. Comparing the OF to a guy with a thing for underage women?

    Yes, I specialize in taking the fun out of metaphors. Sorry.

    A better comparison would be to the two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, who represent Sense and Sensibility. Now that the OF has stopped wallowing so much in emotion, it’s starting to get better; but the EF has also discovered that Sense is more than just rules and head-knowledge.

    Bonus round: Who represents the various Rites? The Anglican Use?

  7. kab63 says:

    Ah, Father, who can resist a Jane Austen post?

    Isn’t comparing the OF to Mr. Wickham a might unfair? Wickham is THE BAD GUY, after all. I thought we considered both the EF and OF legitimate. (Right?) Compare the OF instead to Mr. Bingley. He is accessible to all (even Mrs. Bennet can understand him) and easily liked upon first acquaintance. Mr. Darcy, however, is mysterious. Like the EF, Mr. Darcy takes effort to understand, and once you do, his moral superiority becomes evident.

    As to the different film versions, they each have something to recommend. A novel as great as P&P lends itself to many valid interpretations. Olivier’s Darcy is as wonderful as A&E’s depth is as wonderful as Sutherland’s Mr. Bennet. Can there ever be enough films made of P&P?

  8. capchoirgirl says:

    I have yet to see Olivier’s Darcy. I have a thing for Colin F., so I don’t know if ANYONE will be better than him for me. :)
    Hmmm…Not really feeling the Bingley comparison.

  9. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    “Oh, Mister Bingley…they sang the Mass of Creation again…and Messers Haugen and Haas are at the door!” (crying hysterically)

    “What? In a house of mine?”

  10. robtbrown says:

    Exactly. The A&E production is the best. The pictures of the new P&P—not so much. On my blog, I have the correct version. :)
    Comment by capchoirgirl

    Don’t know about the best, but it was superb. I know a young woman, a Canadian, who on a trip to England took the time to find the house used as Pemberly.

  11. TNCath says:

    I think Mary Bennet’s singing “Flow Gently Sweet Afton” is like a cantor at Mass singing the Mass of Creation or, even worse “Resucito!” Actually, that’s the best part of the entire movie.

  12. Carolina Geo says:

    So would Lydia Bennet be Lifeteen?

  13. jennywren says:

    @carolina Geo – LOL!

  14. DdC says:

    ‘Ah, Father, who can resist a Jane Austen post? …As to the different film versions, they each have something to recommend. A novel as great as P&P lends itself to many valid interpretations. Olivier’s Darcy is as wonderful as A&E’s depth is as wonderful as Sutherland’s Mr. Bennet. Can there ever be enough films made of P&P?’

    Thank you to kab63, you saved me time in my post as to the film comparisons. Except for one: the highly delightful,Lost in Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy, portrayed by English actor Eliot Cowen.Though this twist on P&P might be just a comical fantasy to us Austen officianados, Cowan gives a beautiful straight play at Darcy. Too bad he was overlooked for the newer version.
    Getting back to topic: My Jane Austen Book Club just started P&P (their first my 32nd reading of Austen’s gift to us)and I cannot wait to bring the article in to our meeting! We are all Catholic in the group and all but one an EF girl so even though she is outnumbered Im sure the debate will be lively.

    I am the moderator of the group so I will get back to you on Weds with our observations.

    By the way, we must only make this comparison based on the book. The comparison to the film interpretation is only for the senses. No one will ever capture our darling Mr. Darcy as Jane really conceived him and for that matter, Mr. Wickham. Please, in light of this article it might be interesting to reread P&P with fresh eyes and then make the comparisons.

    Austen fans are so hungry for the modern world to understand her genius that our understanding of her and her characters are based on the film interpretations. Let us read again her glorious prose and then think about the OF in particular.

    Darcy is easy for the EF, but a combination of Bingley/Wickham seems much more appropriate. After all, Like the EF, Fitzwilliam stands alone.

    The OF seems sort of a “little of this,a little of that…” like all the other male characters in P&P. Even Mr. Bennet, one of my favorites, capitulates at times to his wife and daughters, when he should be strong.

    Darcy opens his heart with love but never loses his identity… at least my lifelong experience with the EF has been just like this. The OF- not so much. Forgive me, Jane for the 21st C slang!

    Thanks, Father for the Sunday treat during Lent. Mille grazie.

    Grateful that Father Z appreciates Austen,

    Deborah deCesare

  15. DdC says:

    Please forgive any typos-Im balancing my netbook in bed in the dark with reading glasses on!!

    Deborah deCesare

  16. Bob G: “What? In a house of mine?”


  17. Breck says:

    About twentyfive years ago there was an excellent Australian production of P&P with a very credible Elizabeth and a wonderful, tall, ramrod-straight Darcy. I’m too lazy to try to look it up. Does anyone else remember it?

  18. Carolyn says:

    Oh, this post truly speaks my language – love it! )
    Wonderful comparison – Mr. Darcy all the way!, and I mean that in every sense…

  19. SpokaneTrad says:

    My favorite production was done by BBC in 1983, I think. Maybe this is the one you remember, Breck? Elizabeth Garvie was a lovely Elizabeth and David Rintoul was possibly that “ramrod straight” Darcy. The A&E version drove me nuts. Colin Firth did not do it for me.

  20. Maltese says:

    For an art world comparison, how about Michelangelo versus Warhol?

  21. Mariana says:

    Then there is always Mr. Bennet, sitting in his study and refusing to DO anything for his wife or daughters. Who’s he in this scheme of things?

  22. The comparison is perhaps a little unfair, and should not be taken too far, nor too seriously. However, taken in the right spirit, it is very very very funny!!!! Love the 1995 BBC version myself (A&E?), but I have never seen the 1980 BBC production mentioned above, nor the Olivier one.

  23. Kimberly says:

    Comparrison: In the end Mr. Darcy comes in the early morning, in mystery and silence with an undieing love – The TLM. Sorry, couln’t help myself.

  24. robtbrown says:

    Then there is always Mr. Bennet, sitting in his study and refusing to DO anything for his wife or daughters. Who’s he in this scheme of things?
    Comment by Mariana

    I don’t understand.

  25. stgemma_0411 says:

    Mrs Bennett = The Consilium? Always worried about how to get her daughters married off, without realizing the consequences. As well as being proud of Lydia when she does marry even though she married poorly and for all the wrong reasons.

  26. Mariana says:

    Well, Mr. Bennet strikes me as a positive menace. He lets his wife make a fool of herself, doesn’t realise Lydia needs restraining from running off with Wickham (who didn’t mean to marry her), doesn’t realise what a sterling character Mr. Darcy is….

  27. robtbrown says:

    Well, Mr. Bennet strikes me as a positive menace. He lets his wife make a fool of herself, doesn’t realise Lydia needs restraining from running off with Wickham (who didn’t mean to marry her), doesn’t realise what a sterling character Mr. Darcy is….
    Comment by Mariana

    He is one man surrounded by five women, which means he has little or no control of the situation . . . and knows it.

  28. Gail F says:

    Oh, I agree with kab63. Mr. Darcy is the EF, and Mr. Bingley is the OF — genial, eager to please, loves everybody and puts up with everything, shallow but with the potential to become great in time. Anglicanism, I think, is Mr. Wickham — it looks respectable and aims to please, but it breaks all the moral and sexual rules in secret and it seduces people who are taken in by appearances and eager to agree with grievances.

    If we are to find a spot for Mr. Bennet, I would say he is the secular world — well-meaning but clueless, letting things fall out as they will.

  29. I bet people could have fun with an faux Austen conservative about the merits of the forms.

  30. I like the Bingley/Darcy comparison, and wish I had thought of me. (It’s a buddy flick!)

    This is perhaps going to be misunderstood as a slam, but it’s not; I think the Anglican Use is Miss Darcy (Georgiana). She’s talented and accomplished, she’s young but from an old family, and she’s determined not to be fooled again! :) Darcy hoped she’d end with Bingley, and she didn’t; Wickham thought she’d end up with him, and she didn’t. She’s got a bright future ahead of her, but we don’t know what it will be.

  31. Carolyn says:

    Any comparison for Mr. Collins?

  32. Mariana says:

    I was just thinking of Mr. Collins! Perhaps a “useful idiot” within the C of E?

  33. Nathan says:

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good amount of Faith and common sense, must be in want of a reverent liturgy.

    In Christ,

  34. Nathan says:

    “Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at the Reform of the Reform, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by the liturgical establishment. You had better return to your partner and enjoy the Sign of Peace, for you are wasting your time with me.”

    (Dialogue by TLM Darcy, Chapter 3)

  35. An American Mother says:

    The horrible Rev. Mr. Collins —

    ‘I mean that ‘er characters was no use! They was only just like people you run across any day. One of ’em was a curate — the Reverend Collins—always on the make an’ lookin’ to marry money. Well, when I was a Boy Scout, ’im or ‘is twin brother was our troop-leader.’ – Kipling

    An unreconstructed Episcopalian?

  36. ANevskyUSA says:

    The 1980’s BBC production with Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul is definitely better than the 1995 A&E one. Sure, the production values aren’t as good and there is no wet shirt scene for the ladies, but the acting overall was better. In particular, the 1983 Mrs. Bennet was not a shrill caricature and therefore one could see how Mr. Bennet could marry her, and Mr. Collins was not a pederast–just a buffoon. Furthermore, the 1995 production seemed to anachronistically modern to me–something about the way the main characters were portrayed struck me as people of the 90’s stuck in Regency-era costumes as opposed to Regency era characters captured on 20th Century technology.

  37. Supertradmom says:

    Everyone has their favourite,but the critics think the Rintoul/Garvie is the most like Austen’s book and characters. Mr. Bennet is obviously the Laity, who miss the real thing in pursuit of their own peace and quiet.

    I have seen four versions and like something from each one of those. As to Wickham, he is simply despicable-all show an no substance. Ah, like the novus ordo… pun intended….

    Mr. Collins is surely our clown Mass clown…

  38. ssoldie says:

    Ah! such a lovely comparison Fr.Z.

  39. edwardo3 says:

    Always liked Mr. Darcy.

  40. DdC says:

    A little late but better than never! My Austen book club met and everyone loved loved loved the post. Even our Novus Ordo-sorry OF girl is switching over to the EF-she’s a sucker for Darcy. But then again who ain’t??

    Three cheers for Father Z!!
    The all Jane Austen-all the time Book Club!!

  41. An American Mother says:

    Jane lies in Winchester – blessed be her shade!
    Praise to God for making her, and she for all she made!

  42. Yes, Jane lies in Winchester Cathedral.

    From a visit couple years ago.

    Jane Austen

  43. DdC says:

    Thanks for the photo Father, yours is better than the one I found on the Internet. With your permission, may I copy it for a bookplate that my Jane Book Club is producing for our members?

    Also, the interesting thing is that at the time of her death, Jane had an inner circle of followers but Pride and Sense were both published “Anonymously”. It wasn’t until after her death and burial that Austen was placed on her novels by her brother, Henry.

    Interestingly enough, we see it fitting that she be buried at Wincester, but at the time only Bishops,clergy and those of social status such as royals and baronets were buried there. Our book club will be doing research as to the reason our darling Jane was allowed to be reposed there. Get back to you (if you dont know the reason already :)with the details.


    “…and it will, I believe, be everywhere found, that as the clergy are, or are not what they ought to be, so are the rest of the nation.” Jane Austen Mansfield Park Chapter 9

  44. Supertradmom says:

    Jane’s dad was a vicar, as were other members of her family. The Austens had a great connection to the C of E.

  45. Supertradmom says:

    As early as 1817, the very year of Jane Austen’s death, John Britton, the leading historical topographer of the day, had celebrated the fact fulsomely in his account of the Cathedral and its monuments:
    Here is a nice little note, written in 1817, shortly after Jane Austen’s death regarding her interment:

    Amongst the interments in this pile, is one of a lady whose
    virtues, talents, and accomplishments entitle her not only to
    distinguished notice, but to the admiration of every person who
    has a heart to feel and a mind to appreciate female work and merit.
    The lady alluded to, Miss Jane Austen, who was buried here, July
    1817, was author of four novels of considerable interest and value.
    In the last, a posthumous publication, entitled “Northanger Abbey,”
    is a sketch of a memoir of the amiable author. (2) (Britton 109)

    Also, apparently, her favorite brother, Henry, was a personal friend of the Bishop of Winchester as well. In addition, as noted on several tourist sites, people who lived and died within the Cathedral close could possibly be buried in the Cathedral, but as so many people lived in those types of houses, it was still an honor to be buried within the walls of the Cathedral, and not merely, in the close green itself.

  46. Supertradmom says:

    As a good scholar, I should have inverted commas from “As…” to “monuments”-sorry. The question seems to remain open.

  47. DdC says:

    To SuperTradMom: We are at our Jane Austen Book Club meeting as we speak! The girls offer a big thank you to you!! Since you have done our research for us, we have voted SuperTradMom as a honorary member of the Monmouth County Jae Austen Book Club.

    As Ever,
    Deborah deCesare
    President MCJABC
    JASNA member

  48. DdC says:

    Ooh so sorry: Correction of typo: Monmouth County Jane Austen Book Club.

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