Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Why you should read Jane Austen novels

I heart Jane Austen with an irrational passion. You will find yourself wondering, "Why do I even give a crap about these bourgeois assholes and whether they marry well or not?" But you WILL give a crap. You will find yourself cheering women who find ways to survive in a culture that, even more so than ours, limits women's lives in brutal fashion. Marry, or die. Or: marry, get pregnant, die young. Or: marry a complete arse just to have a roof over your head. You get the drift. Her world is circumscribed but within it, there is great depth.

Austen's wit is often subtle. It is pointed. She is a great inventor of Characters. Nobody is immune, from either criticism or praise. Rich, poor, smart, stupid, beautiful, plain, male, female: it doesn't matter, the character may be reprehensible or entirely laudable.

I re-read the whole Austen oeuvre every few years, and always find something new. She grows on you; you identify with different characters at different times in your life. You might find a novel sad on one reading, hilarious on the next.

Go forth and read.

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