And what, you may be wondering, is a ha-ha? If you recall, in Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, Edmund and Mary go off to explore the woods at Sotherton, leaving poor tired Fanny on a bench overlooking this mysterious creature, the ha-ha. So what is it?
I stayed up last night later than I will admit to reading a book about Jane Austen's works, entitled Miniatures and Morals by Peter J. Leithart, and in the section on Mansfield Park, I found no less than a full description of a ha-ha. As you can imagine, I was overjoyed, and resolved to share this new-found knowledge with the world. So here it is, the definition of a ha-ha--
"The idea of a ha-ha was to keep cattle/deer/people out of an area without ugly fences breaking up the vista. A ditch was dug and a fence of some sort placed at the bottom. The way across was by an unditched area closed off by a wrought iron gate. These gates usually had further barriers stretching from the gatepost to the edge of the ditch shaped rather like a quarter of a bicycle wheel with the spokes and with spikes protruding beyond each spoke. This is the barrier that Henry Crawford and Maria climbed around in Mansfield Park while poor Mr. Rushworth has hurried off to get the key to the gate that will let them into the park."
So there you have it! You now know what a ha-ha is.
Ah, Mansfield Park. Such a book. The high point of English literature. I think I shall read it again.........
August 5, 2005
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Speaking of Mansfield Park, The Shieldmaiden deserves a hearty round of aplause for recently swallowing her dislike of this book and giving it another try. Shieldmaiden, would you care to post your thoughts on it? Pleeeeeaase say yes?
Here's a photo of a ha-ha (scroll down just past the photo of the church): http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/paulhu/20050302
Thank you for clearing that up!
(Mama Squirrel is a little ambivalent about Mansfield Park too; she prefers Persuasion.)
Persuasion would probably be my second favorite. Mmmm, such a book.... But then they are all my favorite while I am reading them. It's only when I step away for a while that I can see which is my true favorite.
There are only six complete Jane Austen novels. Read them again. And again. They haven't gotten old for me yet, and I re-read them all every year! I don't think I've re-read Emma or Northanger Abbey this year yet, though...
Thanks for the link, Mama Squirrel. I was having trouble visualizing it. And now I even know what a crumpet looks like! That's an interesting blog you linked to!
If one has ever visited Mount Vernon, the breathtakingly beautiful home of our honored first President George Washington, one may remember seeing The Ha-ha Wall in the back yard. It was said in the tour we took that the children of the home had great fun with the wall, tumbling or jumping off, throwing balls and such.
Incidently, of all the places we visited in Washington D.C. and the surrounding area, Mount Vernon was my absolute favorite and I hope very much that I shall be able to go back many times.
As for Mansfield Park, though I enjoyed it very much and do intend to read it again, when considering Austen's works as a whole, it is my least favorite. I do not dislike it, it is just my least favorite, my favorites being Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, I have tried to un-tie them but it can't happen.
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