jane austen

"Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book."

"Everytime I read 'Pride and Prejudice' I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone."

--Mark Twain

yes, this is a post that might draw some hatred--but it has to be done. i feel it is my duty. why do i feel it is my duty? because i have an english degree? because i am a man? because no one else has the guts? yes.

so women, what is the fascination with her books? i mean, she wrote pretty much the same story in every one of them right? are they really all that different? and what does it say that about them they that are primarily read by women?

of course we're not trying to judge them on whether or not they are good literature. you could argue both ways, but my favorite english professor loved her, and i respect his opinion enough to believe him. besides the fact that i've never actually read any jane austen :). haha

i guess the real issue here is that i feel like so many people limit themselves when there is so much good stuff out there to read. i feel the same way about tom clancy (on the guy end), or any books with shiny covers, or-dare i say it-j.k. rowling.

women of the world! put down your jane austen and pick up something else! men of the world! put down your tom clancy and pick up something else! pick up something that will challenge you, that will not take you to some escapist fantastical world that has so little bearing to your actual life and the things you experience. we can learn so much from stories about other worlds and such--that's not what i'm talking about. i'm talking about books that have something to say beyond just passing the time.

life is too precious to ever just pass the time.

now of course if you feel jane austen is not just passing the time, please feel free to disagree and inform me as to why. i dare you.


  1. Preach on.
    (you feel it's your ... duty? lol)

  2. My rant is forthcoming. :)

  3. I'm a Jane Austen fan; I'm not going to lie. I'm not going to apologize for it either.

    I do think you (not only as an English major, but as a human) should pick up a Jane Austen novel (Sense and Sensibility is my favorite). By doing so, you would understand that no, not every one of them is about the same thing. True, they all take place during the same time period, so in each one of them the female protagonist is concerned with marriage. However, the characters themselves are very different. Emma, for instance, is so unlikable (in my humble opinion) that I could hardly get through the book.

    I really want to find my senior paper from high school for you, but I have no idea where it is (Feminism in Jane Austen was the topic).

    Anyway, the point of my post is Jane Austen's work is not simply escapist literature as you suggest. Is it entertaining? Yes. Is it frivolous? Sometimes. But it is such a well written insight into the subtleties of being human, and the experiences we'll encounter not only in Austen's era, but in our own.

    I'm not sure if that really made sense, but the point is: don't judge Jane's books by her readers (or the cover, or the movies).

  4. for my money it doesnt get any better than when Tom Clancy writes 'Clear & Present Danger.'

  5. We will have to continue this in person no doubt, but in the mean time, as you dish out challenges to broaden your readers' horizons, I issue you the same challenge. Pick up Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion or Mansfield Park and tell me that you do not enjoy your venture into the creative world that is Jane Austen.

    All of these books are very different. While some themes may bear similarities, the plot, character development and situations in these novels are vastly different and uniquely engaging. (As a side note, I pose the question, what is wrong with similarities in setting and occasional theme? Even Dostoevsky had similarities in his books. Similarities based on the opinions and happenings in his day, did he not? Why not allow Austen the same courtesy?)

    I challenge you to read Emma, the character which Jane Austen set out to make everyone dislike but herself, and tell me that you are not endeared to her even as you dislike her. Read Pride and Prejudice and tell me that you are not drawn to roll your eyes at the bumbling antics of a silly mother and boy-crazy sisters as you cheer on one of the greatest misunderstandings and greatest love stories in all of English fiction.

    I could continue in my adoration of her writing, but I am not blind to the fact that Jane Austen is not for everyone. She was an amazing authoress who helped to pave the way into a literary world ruled my men despite being looked down upon by some before being embraced by the public. That is not a fact that can be denied based on personal bias.

    I was not an English major, nor can I boast of an extremely cultured library of my own. However, as I have begun to tackle book lists of classics and friends' recommendations, I have found no book- modern or classic-that holds the same place in my heart as the books of Jane Austen! Maybe it is because I am a woman and I enjoy the independence of the characters as they battle societal norms or because I appreciate strong literature when I see it. Whatever the reason, I enjoy her writings and the way that she refused to let the influence of her own life and situation contain her imagination. (And I won't apologize for it!)