Lady Susan by Jane Austen
This short novel is told almost entirely in letters to and from the various characters. It’s an amusing read about a conniving woman trying to attach herself to a respectable family in spite of the reputation that precedes her.
The disappointment is that Austen uses the letter convention all the way until the end, when she just sort of gives up and tells us how it all pans out. I have no idea why that couldn’t have been done in a letter. Possibly Jane just got tired, or was late for afternoon tea.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
I read this a while back, but noticed that I didn’t blog about it.
I can’t for the life of me remember much about it, except that it had a character named Wentworth. And someone was persuading someone else.
Okay, a brief skimming reminds me that this is the tale of Anne Elliot, and this crazy friend who was after her brother, and trying to push her brother on Anne. I remember they were kind of amusing.
That’s all I got.
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
It was only during this book, the fourth Jane Austen I’ve read this year, that steakums happened to mention that she liked Austen as well. Honestly, couples never talk anymore.
Mansfield Park is odd in that the reservedness of the time period grates a bit. I mean, going on and on of the evils of putting on a play in one’s house, with our protagonists, Edward and Fanny (of all names), as the main detractors of amateur theatricals? Really, how am I to relate to that?
It’s not like the idle rich have anything else to do.
Really, you side with the protagonists merely because everyone else is so much less worthwhile.
Emma and Clueless are next up on our Netflix cue. If time allowed, we’d do a double feature night.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
By far the least formal book I’ve read by JA. Self-referential, witty…
There was some author’s note about not being released until 10 years after it finished, and apologies for the out-of-datedness. You know, I was able to overlook it from my two hundred years later perspective?
Emma by Jane Austen
“That is the case with us all, papa. One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”
~ Emma Woodhouse
“You are very fond of bending little minds; but where little minds belong to rich people in authority, I think they have a knack of swelling out, till they are quite as unmanageable as great ones.”
~ Emma Woodhouse.
I think the strongest effect of having read this novel is a strong desire to watch Clueless again. I had forgotten that Emma was the source material for the movie, and I found it very entertaining to consider the particulars of the adaptations made from one to the other. All in all, I believe I’m fairly impressed with the translation.
The second strongest effect is that I really want to incorporate the phrase to own the truth into my conversation.
The third strongest effect is that the concept of overt and formal class distinctions is jarring.
The fourth is that this is a amusing read of a very foreign culture.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (courtesy of Project Gutenberg)
I had started Sense a long, long time ago, and misplaced it about halfway through. Since some 20 years had passed, enough attrition of memory had occurred to allow a read from the beginning with only the vaguest sense of deja vu.
The toughest part of suspending one’s disbelief in a Jane Austen novel is to allow oneself to believe that it really is tragic that a Person of Quality should lose their Means, or not gain as much Means as is thought to be “deserved”. I can do it easily in a Wooster story, because the primary purpose is comedy, and usually at the expense of the idle rich.
It is much more difficult for a “serious” novel (albeit with humor), meant to evoke sincere sympathy for our heroines, all of whom possess good looks, intelligence, education, and enough money to live more than comfortably (with servants, no less). Sure, loss of love is a tragedy for anyone, but really I have trouble mustering up sympathy in the same way I don’t feel too bad for Jennifer Anniston.
Really, though, suspension of disbelief or concern for the characters is none too necessary because the appeal of Jane Austen is the language. They can go on and on about the same topic and I’m just fine with it. Unlike, say, Tolkien.