Mary Arline (queen_of_kithia) wrote,
Mary Arline
queen_of_kithia

I owe Jane Austen an apology

I know she's dead, but still, I've been bad-mouthing her for years and I feel bad about it.

The first, and technically only, Jane Austen book I ever read was Pride and Prejudice when I was a freshman in college, and while I was doing my first college theatrical production. I was very, very bored by it, but that was probably due as much to my own lack of sleep as to Austen's prose style. Plus I've never given much credence to this notion that people sometimes lash out angrily at people because they're secretly in love with them. I'm not saying that it never happens that way; I've just never witnessed it in reality, that I know of.

Then later I saw part of the movie Sense and Sensability and was bemused to find that it seemed to be virtually the same story as P&P, except that the father was dead so it made slightly more sense.

And then I found out that J.K. Rowling is a Jane Austen fan, which did not compute at all, because how could a woman who wrote such fascinating, engrossing (I'm purposefully not using the word "spellbinding") fiction find any sort of enjoyment in Jane Austen? It made no sense. (Of course, this was in the early years of the Harry Potter series, before the "pairing off" had commenced. Looking back on it now, I can see the Austenian influence in Ron and Hermione's contentious relationship and Snape's secret love of Lily).

Anyway, if J.K. Rowling enjoyed Jane Austen I had to concede that she must have something good to offer, and I really enjoyed Helen Fielding's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice into Bridget Jones's Diary, and also the film version of Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley.

Lately I've been reading--or, more accurately, listening to a recording of--Emma, which is more interesting than P&P, probably because I relate to Emma better than I relate to Elizabeth Bennett.

Jane Austen will never be one of my favorite authors, because her prose belongs to a certain time and society that--thank God--I was not born into and will therefore never understand. I will always find the preoccupation with class and propriety frustrating and the details of ball-planning tedious. But it was unfair of me to make a blanket judgment based on one book (ooh, irony; I was prejudiced by Pride and Prejudice), so to Jane Austen I would like to say, I'm sorry.
Tags: books, films
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