I've read through Part I: "The world of Jane Austen" and just finished the long chapter titled "England and the world". What I want to share with you is the detailed description Le Faye proposes of the differences between male and female education, career chances, occupations and pursuits.
I've always admired Jane Austen for her witty outlook, her intelligent irony, at dealing with these discriminating decisive differences in her novels; Deirdre Le Faye, instead, collected facts taken from documents and provides the modern readers an outline of that world, so that they can step through the looking glass and find themselves in the England of two centuries ago. They little by little discover what being a man or a woman might be like.
NAVAL AND MILITARY LIFE
The Army was not so highly regarded as a career as the Navy. Most of the officers were drawn from the younger sons of the local gentry and the colonel was usually some landowner of the country. It is the arrival of a militia regiment in Hertfordshire that starts to thicken the plot of Pride and Prejudice and no doubt Jane was aided in her composition of this novel by her brother Henry's tales of his service with the Oxfordshires.
in prose and verse, with some modern history leading on from that of the ancient world; geography (use of the globes), French and Italian were usually taught as extras, along with handwriting, dancing, drawing and miscellaneous lectures on scientific topics. Conditions in the old-established public schools were invariably spartan, discipline was ferocious, for most headmaster still held to Dr Johnson's view of children that "not being reasonable, can only be governed by fear", and flogged their pupils as a matter of fact.
The fashion in masculine clothes changed only slowly during Jane Austen's lifetime, but in the end there were considerable differences in appearance between the boys and men of 1760 and 1820. In the earlier years of the century the basic male suit consisted of a knee-length coat with long and bulky skirts, a long waistcoat, and close-fitting knee-breeches worn with stockings and buckled shoes. The coat gradually evolved by alterations in its cuts, removing the skirts in front and dividing those at the back into two tails that would fall more conveniently when the wearer was on horseback, and likewise diminishing baggy sleeves and wide cuffs to a far neater outline. The waistcoat dwindle accordingly to fit inside a smaller coat. In 1790s the breeches lengthened to become tight pantaloons worn tucked into short boots, and in the early 19th century the pantaloons became looser and evolved into trousers worn with shoes.
Young men started to wear their hair cut short in the 1790s. In Jane Austen's early novels, most of the gentlemen would have had long hair, powdered and tied back in a queue with a large bow of black ribbon.
Well, it's all for now. Till very soon to compare what men's lives were like to women's. If you're interested in getting this precious book you can buy it online at Amazon . CLICK HERE