Rudyard Kipling’s: The Janeites

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December 9, 2017 @ 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
The Gatesworth
1 McKnight Pl
St. Louis, MO 63124


Reservations are required for this program. Please contact Bettye Dew, our Hostess, to reserve.

We will conclude the year with a Readers Theatre presentation of “The Janeites”, a famous short story by Rudyard Kipling.

Kipling’s “The Janeites” manages the unlikely combination of Jane Austen, World War I, and secret societies.  In 1920, a Cockney character named Humberstall looks back at the war, relating how a passion for the works of Jane Austen brought officers and soldiers together, allowing them to talk on level terms.  Humberstall views the resulting group, the Society of the Janeites, as a secret organization akin to Freemasonry.  Much of the story’s humor stems from his descriptions of Austen’s characters and plots.

Background: Kipling and his family had visited Bath in March 1915, and while there, he re-read the works of Jane Austen.  He wrote to a friend: “The more I read the more I admire and respect and do reverence… When she looks straight at a man or a woman she is greater than those who were alive with her – by a whole head… with a more delicate hand and a keener scalpel” (Pinney [ed.], Letter [vol. 4, 1999] p. 296).  Jane Austen’s novels also brought a welcome break in the family’s gloom when son, John, was killed later in 1915 while serving in World War I.  Kipling’s admiration for Austen had become affection.

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