It is a Truth Universally Acknowledged

Never leave the old road for a new one, if you don’t want to take the risk of dealing with unexpected situations and this is a truth universally acknowledged for me. I’m writing this, as, few days ago I meant to introduce Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in one of my (many) classes, but I felt like doing it in a different way this time. I wanted them to focus on the opening lines of the book, so I assigned the following homework: tell me which is a truth universally acknowledged for you in 200 words. Of course they didn’t know whom this line belonged to and I never mentioned the name Jane Austen. Just asking. The name would have been revealed only afterwards.

Of course, they were puzzled and attempted to understand what I was actually expecting. None of them was crossed by the thought that those words might belong to somebody and “google” them. I thought them smarter or maybe I was too good at hiding my purposes. By the way, after a little hesitation I started to receive answers. Some of them considered safe to produce the truths universally acknowledged of the world and the universe like:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that the speed and position of a subatomic particle cannot be known. This concept can be found in the “Uncertainty Principle” of Heisenberg……”(Umberto P.)

Is it really so? I don’t know and I didn’t mean to check it. Another one attempted to give a scientific demonstration in his way:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a  50 cc scooter  is slower than a 125 cc  scooter…” (Vittorio F.)

Then all a sudden the answers took the form of universally acknowledged Italian truths, which mostly regarded pizza, pasta and family:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged  that when you cook carbonara pasta, a poor dish of the Roman tradition made with eggs, bacon, pecorino and pepper, you  ABSOLUTELY don’t need to add onions.” (Andrea R.)

Actually, there has always been a dispute on this point and I agreed with him, no onion in a good carbonara is required. Even with the following truth I agreed:

” It is  a truth universally acknowledged  that pizza and pineapple cannot be a good match … Pineapple is a fruit and YOU CAN’T PUT FRUIT ON PIZZA!!!! . A good pineapple is sweet and juicy and I think that Italian people will never appreciate a taste like this.” (Flavio F.)
Fruit on a pizza is absolutely blasphemous, we do prefer mozzarella as topping. Ah, I’ve got one about it:
 
” It is  a truth universally acknowledged  that mozzarella cheese, should never be kept in a fridge….as the low temperature alters its flavor”. (Fabio D.B.)

Words of wisdom indeed. And what could be said about the following one?

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that when you go to visit an Italian grandmother, you have to eat a lot. Even if you’re on a diet, you can’t leave that home without having swallowed whatever she has prepared for you. It has always been so and I think we all love it. When you arrive, as your grandmother opens the door,  you can smell all the food she has prepared for you. It seems impossible, but even if you tell her that you’ll go to visit her only two hours in advance, she will be able to cook for an army. It is a grandmother’s power. Many of us go to have lunch at her home on Sundays, others go to visit her rarely, but it doesn’t matter. What really counts is her happiness when she sees you and her special attention that only a grandmother is able to give. Moments like this are the ones that describe better the word “family”. Moments like this make our adolescence amazing. Family is the most important thing in our lives.” (Eleonora R.)
This was more or less the tenor of their answers, do you think they would annoy our dear Jane?
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26 thoughts on “It is a Truth Universally Acknowledged

    • I understand your bitterness. Same chaos here. What can we do? I don’t know, I am disappointed myself and I cannot see any way out at the moment. By the way, as mozzarella cheese must not be kept in the fridge, it must be eaten in few days. I don’t want to have on my conscience the consequences of what Fabio wrote. ;D

  1. I don’t know about dear Jane, but your student’s description of the Italian grandmother providing nourishment like an Ephesian Diana is not peculiar to your boot-shaped peninsula: when our children were young my mother (who came from an Anglo-Indian tradition) would overface them with food just as she did to me. To refuse was an insult to her ability to provide.

  2. It is a truth universally acknowledged that should one state something as truthful and universally acknowledged, said person would be most assuredly be proven in error as the universe would immediately turn its full attention to proving them wrong . . . often, in a matter of seconds (in the timescale of the universe).

    . . . with that in mind . . .

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone resists acknowledging they are wrong (about anything) and they do so with such vigor that the universe is forced to destroy both their lives and the lives of anyone around them just to make them see the error of their way. For such a task, the universe employs the deadliest of actors . . . political parties.

  3. It is a truth universally acknowledged that as we grow up all of us have that one teacher who inspires us to learn and be inquisitive about the world around us … and to absorb as much as we can about life and the world around us, even if it involves homework. Seems to me that e-Tinkerbell just may be one of those teachers to many of her students … thanks for a great post …

  4. I feel like the ‘grandmother reply’ was the closest in terms of imitating Austen’s humor in her statement.

    Let me try and wear the ‘Mrs Tink’s student’ shoes once again (I am afraid they do not fit anymore but I’ll try to squeeze in) and deliver your homework:

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that, no matter what happens, Mrs Tink will always feel shivers (or some kind of emotion) when her beloved Mr. Darcy declares his love to Elizabeth, whether that’s in the book or in the tv show with brilliant Colin Firth.

    Close enough? 😉

  5. What a wonderful piece! I think that your student who wrote about grandmothers got closest to Austen’s original intent or have I simply been charmed by her. I have especially happy memories of my grandmother and for similar reasons to your student. I also remember that my grandmother loved her Italian mother-in-law, the daughter of a tailor from Milan who came to London. My grandmother suffered at the hands of a cruel father and it was her mother-in-law’s gentleness that meant so much to her.
    One more thought. The thing that your students miss here is Austen’s use of irony. I would imagine that this is difficult to convey when translating from English to Italian.

  6. Any teacher who introduces teenagers(?) to Jane Austin is doing a great thing. Jane is my all time favorite author and I can’t imagine growing up without her, a thing which happens all too often anymore. Thanks for a fun post.

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