After featuring the likes of Neil Gaiman, Marian Keyes and Sarah Addison Allen, it’s time for something else! Something from the world of the classics….
Jane Austen was smart, witty, observant and did not suffer fools gladly. Or write about them nicely! She hasn’t just given us Pride & Prejudice; don’t forget the beautiful tale of 2 sisters in Sense & Sensibility or the story of that spoiled little rich girl Emma growing up and getting over herself. Then there’s the tale of common Fanny Price coming good in Mansfield Park and the haunting supernatural elements of Northanger Abbey.
Jane’s novels are still cherished to this day because the observations and sentiments within them were spot on and are still relevant now. Plus, she could tell such a damn good story!
I enjoy the movies and TV shows created from her novels as they bring her work to a brand new audience. The audience who want instant gratification and can’t be bothered to real an ‘old’ book. The type of people who just don’t have the time or inclination to sit and read her novels.
Her works have inspired sequels and further stories, as well as satire novels and guides on how to live your life the Jane Austen way (presumably as a proper lady).
The fact is that Jane Austen created such memorable stories and characters that we can’t bear to let her creations go off to their happy every afters. I am currently reading Death Comes to Pemberley and the BBC adaptation premieres at Christmas. Lizzy Benntett is still alive and kicking, it seems!
So what was it that made her characters so memorable? Let’s take Elizabeth Bennett as an example – Lizzy (like Jane Austen) didn’t suffer fools gladly (or at all), or allow anybody to look down on her, undermine her or belittle her. This includes people far above her rank who had every right (back then) to do so. Lizzy was a strong, determined, educated woman in a time and place when those qualities were certainly not desirable in a lady. So we love Jane’s heroines because they aren’t typical of those times and in a way, they’re the underdog and we always root for the underdog! It’s worth noting that Elizabeth Bennett was similar to Jane Austen in a few ways. Jane, who was a writer when she should have been getting married and producing heirs. Jane, who didn’t live conventionally and actually dared to not like visiting Bath and go against the grain 🙂 I like to think that Jane based Elizabeth upon herself to some extent.
Jane received only a few positive reviews of her works during her lifetime and only became so well loved after a publication in 1869 of her nephew’s A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public. By the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer, and to this day is considered a national treasure.
So yes, a very worthy author of the day! And now, for your viewing pleasure, a selection of Elizabeth & Darcy images. Enjoy!