Msnowe's Blog

Jane Austen Project

Posted in Jane Austen by m.snowe on June 12, 2008

Anyone clever, witty, and imaginatively rich, with the comfort of being able to read for leisure and a happy disposition would do best to emphasize all these qualities by reading a little bit more Jane Austen. When reading her work, all that vexes you can easily slip away–for at least a few “delicious” moments. (either that, or your emotions are heightened and aggravated to the acutest sense, but we hope they aren’t.)

People seem to think that writers like Austen have lost most of their relevance. This is simply not true. Yes, we play sudoku, not whist, and we dash off emails, not long involved letters in cursive. We’re more impressed with sports cars and SUVs than with chaise and fours, and it’s debatable whether anyone can have a good tete a tete anymore. But what Austen did, that many writers, if not most, can and could not, was to not only encapsulate the spirit of the age, but she also captured the spirit of the human condition. Underneath all the 18th Century finery lays a picture stripped bare of all the outer pretension. There are just people: sensible people, vain people, silly people, innocent people, conflicted people, horrible people…and the list goes on. The outer aspects/attributes of them all might change, but the inner drives and motivations are remarkably unchanged from age to age. Pick up any Austen story, and you’ll find the emotions you felt when you were this age, or the exact sketch of your best friend or worst enemy at that age. And the absolute notion that we all exist in a world commonly shared, and yet individually experienced rings true–we all know the world, but we can only surmise how each and every one of us relates it to ourselves. The ability to have and understand human relationships is what Jane Austen writes best, and it would be best if we made ourselves amiable, and took up her lengthy volumes of advice.

On Jane Austen in the present.

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