The ball in hon­our of the Prices in

Friday - - Leisure -

The Re­gency pe­riod is hands-down the era that mas­tered the art of lav­ish cel­e­bra­tions. And there’s no bet­ter way to get a glimpse into the world of balls and ball­go­wns than through the work of the queen of the Re­gency novel her­self, Jane Austen.

The Mans­field Park ball in­cludes all the defin­ing el­e­ments of its time. The class sys­tem comes to the fore when the wealthy Ber­trams host a ball for their poor rel­a­tives, Fanny and Wil­liam Price. Ex­pertly blend­ing satire with sen­ti­ment, Austen em­pha­sises Fanny’s un­cer­tain­ties about her at­tire as a debu­tante, high­lights con­niv­ing Aunt Nor­ris’s at­tempts at mo­nop­o­lis­ing party plan­ning and pokes gen­tle fun at the ap­pre­hen­sions of young men en­gag­ing dance part­ners. But as she suc­cinctly puts it, “de­spite ev­ery­thing, the ball was de­light­ful”. Sim­ply put, this isWood­stock in space. Dou­glas Adams’ comic sci-fi se­ries hosts, as the au­thor puts it,

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