Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Classics Club: On Jane Austen

For March, the Classics Club's question came at the right time:  

Do you love Jane Austen or want to “dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone”?

I'm a very recent Austen reader.  I blame the movie versions of her books for not reading her sooner, all about the romance and the oh-so-beautiful characters, and oh the drama of losing one's loved person, going through such horrible calamities - but not to worry, everything turned out well in the end...

I first came across Jane Austen when I saw Pride and Prejudice.  This film is considered representative of Austen and the famous scene of Mr. Darcy in a wet shirt is still one that first comes to mind when referring to this film.  The film, but not the novel.  I've long had a "heated" argument with a friend Austenite (in contrast to me being a Brontënite...), where I would accuse her of reading "Harlequins" (the bad romance novels) - in Brontë novels, everything is gloom and doom -- and much closer to the reality of that period, I said.  In vain did she try to convince me that no, Austen novels, while they do include romance, also devote a major part in social commentary.  I simply refused to see this...

Fast forward to my blogging adventure, where I read Lady Susan.  What a revelation!  I was reading something of Austen that did not ooze with romance, did not blind me with Herculian handsome men and definitely did not describe any damsels-in-distress!  Furthermore, I could actually pick up her wittiness and the subtle manner with which she managed to include the famous "social commentary".  I was relieved - I could like Austen after all!
As I said, it's still baby steps for me.  I've recently read Persuasion, which continued the previous experience of Lady  Susan and also included politically-incorrect references -- much to my delight! (although, to be fair, I also liked the movie adaptationCiarán Hinds is Mr. Darcy for me!)

I still love my Brontës.  There is something when I read their novels that stays with me long after I've finished reading.  I want that kind of feeling when I read Austen - up to now, I'm happy to report that it looks promising.  I look forward to reading more of dear Jane...


  1. I'm glad you gave her a chance and are, so far, finding it a rewarding experience! I failed to appreciate Austen at first, but I got there (and ran with it) not too long after my first failed attempt.

    1. thanks Adam - looking forward to your challenge in the summer...

  2. I have been afraid of Jane Austen for years. But now I'm a strong "Persuasion" fan and am hooked on the modern online adaptation of "Pride & Prejudice": "The Lizzie Bennet Diairies".

    1. good for you! Then, you'll move on to the Austen & the vampires adaptations ;-)

  3. I admit up front that I am an Austen fan and your comment about the Bronte's being more like the real life of the times and Austen too romantic made me smile out loud!

    I like a couple of the Bronte books but find them too unrealistic and romantic esp Wuthering Heights!! I guess it all comes down to individual preference and perspective after all :-)

    But I do have Agnes Grey on my CC list and Jane Eyre has been a favourite since childhood. if you enjoy the Gothic style of Jane Eyre perhaps you should try Northanger Abbey next (try to find the old BBC production too with Peter Firth in the lead role - it's not perfect but it is wonderfully atmospheric).

    1. Fully agree - it's great to be able to find what we want in the literature world! Thanks for the tip, esp. for the film, because I did not like a recent adaptation I saw...




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