Michaelmas

Category: Daily Life | Type: Historical | Title: Pride and Prejudice (in Context) | Author: Jane Austen | Ch: Chapter 1

September 29, one of the year's quarter days. The others are Christmas, Lady Day (March 24), and Mid-summer (June 24). These were also occasions to settle accounts such as bills, rents, and tithes. P&P, like Emma, will unfold over the course of a year and end about Michaelmas.

Austen in a letter compares her novels to scenes drawn on a two-inch piece of ivory. She means that her novels are precisely circumscribed. Spatially, they are confined largely to the manor house and within that the public rooms, chiefly the drawing-rooms and dining rooms, and outside chiefly to the space within the shrubbery. With respect to class they remain within the landed gentry, either not titled or no higher than a baronet, excluding even their servants (though both Mansfield Park and Persuasion, her last completed novel, will expand the range. And circumscribed in time, often as here a year. 

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