Sunday, March 19, 2006

Why This Love Affair With The Regency Period?

Many of us love anything to do with the Regency period. We love the books, the clothes, the furniture and the style, but what is it that makes us drawn to this period more than Elizabethan times perhaps? Is it the way those tight fitting breeches, coats and long boots set off the men's figures to perfection? The young ladies looked rather delightful too, but it can't all be down to the clothes.

Manners had reached their zenith. I don't believe they have ever quite matched up since, particularly these days when so often anything goes. The Victorians began the slide, because they were caught up with the exciting new world of machines and power. The Regency has a slow charm about it that we cannot find these days and some of us truly miss it. Is that what we are looking for when we read these books? A more peaceful, friendly, and kind way of life? For those with money and position it must certainly have been that way, but not for me and possibly not for you. We shouldn't have found it all that comfortable getting up early to clean a huge cold house, especially in winter.

I don't think it was the most romantic age, for that belongs to knights on white horses, surely? Yet there is something that carries a strong appeal for both men and women alike. I can't tell you why I would have loved to live then - would love to now, providing I could be a lady and meet men like Mr Darcy. But I should probably have ended up as the kitchen maid!
Best wishes, Linda Sole (Anne Herries)


Anonymous said...

I think some of it is the manners of the age. I was watching the DVD of Pride and Prejudice recently and it had an interview with Matthew Macfadyen on the politics of dating.

He remarked that the manners of the time are seen as formal and constraining - things like men standing up when a lady entered the room - but he said he found them freeing.

I thought this was a fascinating comment, and I would ave liked to hear more, but unfortunately it was a very short segment and he didn't have a chance to say more.

As someone else (I think it was the screenwriter, Deborah Moggach) pointed out, these days, we don't know what to do when we meet someone new. Do we shake hands, air kiss on one cheek, air kiss on both cheeks, really kiss on one cheek / both cheeks, or do we put our hands in the back pockets of our jeans and say, 'Hi!'

Having rules left people free to worry about more important things, such as, 'Do I like this person?'

Anonymous said...

"Having rules left people free to worry about more important things, such as, 'Do I like this person?' "

Except that the rules stopped you talking about many things that might help you work out whether you liked them, and the rules also made it more difficult for men and women to spend long periods of time alone, talking to one another. And given that a lady had relatively few options available (remain a spinster or dependant relative, seek work as a companion/governess or get married), she might well, like Charlotte in P&P be thinking not 'do I like this person?' but 'can I tolerate marriage to this person?'

I like the regency period because there weren't wars going on in mainland Britain (nor was a very major war going to break out until 1914), there weren't outbreaks of plague, so a reader can have greater expectations of a longterm 'happy ever after' for the characters and the mindset is slightly closer to the modern ones (for example, in their ideas about romantic love, and politically too).

That's why I like reading regency-set romances. But I wouldn't like to have lived in that period.

Lois said...

You know something, from a personal point of view, I have no real idea why the heck I love it. The clues I have are that when I was growing up, Mom exposed me to Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes, and since it was the 80s I was growing up in, I loved hearing and watching Princess Diana. From there, I just fell in love with England. And the while I like Victorian times (because of SH), I love Regency because there isn't very many recognizable modern objects just yet (like railroads as an example). And the outfits are well, just so cool! (Sorry about that! LOL) But other than that, I really have no idea whatsoever. Maybe that's just it -- it's sooooo cool! :)


Anonymous said...

I think the Regency is so fascinating because we feel it is only just out of reach for us. Medieval times are a completely different world, but we are separated from the Regency by a gossamer curtain.... (sorry, waxing poetic there)