Year without a Summer
Posted by Ken on May 28, 1998 at 08:08:32:
In response to Luddites and P&P dates, written by Linden on May 23, 1998 at 19:07:14
It isn't just that Austen never gives us Wellington, Nelson, or Napoleon; Trafalgar, Austerlitz, or Waterloo; Luddism or elections--she doesn't give us the Year without a summer, either. It was the result of a volcanic explosion in Indonesia, far bigger than Krakatoa (Mt. St. Helens & Mt. Pinatubo don't even measure on that scale), that dumped cubic miles of dust & aerosols into the atmosphere. Blocking the sunlight on that scale left snows & frosts in New England in July, and old England wasn't much better off. Crops & harvests were disrupted & a lot of people went hungry that year. Plus the sunsets were unusually brilliant as well. You'd think someone would have noticed, right?
Well, the Yw/oaS was 1816, so perhaps there's an excuse for Austen not mentioning it in her writings. But what most people don't realize is that the entire decade from 1810 to 1820 was abnormally cold--something to keep in mind the next time you read a period novel and hear people complaining of the heat! In part, this circumstance reflects the timelessness of the artist: this is __shire in the year 18__ with universal characters acting upon the common stage of humanity. Tying specific events to the story line would be counterproductive, IMHO. But in part it also reminds us of the capricious nature of what humans find remarkable. Our memories & observations are all relative, and there's no telling what will stick or fall on the dustheap. So one cannot make too much capital from noticing what is not noticed: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, after all.
- Name of Volcano Marie-Bernadette 00:24:59 6/04/98 (0)
- Weather records: Help! Linden 20:06:19 5/28/98 (18)
- Weather Report Cameron 00:02:47 6/12/98 (0)
- Regency Companion P. Bingham 04:08:12 6/01/98 (3)
- Question while you're all on the subject of British weather Carolyn B 13:14:41 5/31/98 (5)
- Dear Caroline and John W Linden 02:53:32 5/31/98 (0)
- Some on-line info, with a caveat or two Caroline 22:44:25 5/30/98 (3)
- Weather John W 14:43:31 5/30/98 (0)
- Weather Records John W 14:34:26 5/30/98 (0)
- A Cloudy Subject Marie-Bernadette 11:20:52 5/28/98 (6)
- Funny you should mention that! Caroline 10:05:51 5/28/98 (4)
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