Monday, December 31, 2007

What Would Jane Austen Do?

God bless the WGA strike! Because you will have lots of time to watch the new PBS adaptations of all Jane Austen's novels. The fun starts on January 13th with Persuasion.

And if that tosses you into a secret fantasy of the Regency period and or causes you to bemoan your single state, this round up of the latest Jane Austen homages and clones is a good reference for what's out there. Me and Mr. Darcy is a crap book, by the way. It also leaves off Lauren Henderson's Jane Austen's Guide To Dating, which I found invaluable and will review as soon as I find my copy. Also keep in mind that The Jane Austen Book Club is soon out on video.

And The Risky Regencies blog spent the early part of December looking at Austen's novels, putting the phrase "big girl panties" into my brain.

Salon's take on the cult of Austen calls out the romantic fangirls as missing the point if that's all you think Austen's about. Her novels are more prescriptive about marriage and relationships than people like to think, and it's clear she was a woman of her times who believed in the social order. You marry for security and choose well, and if you find love that's grand but really--sometimes all you can hope for is to live parallel lives and keep your temper.

I first got into Austen when we read Emma for Mr. Quinn's spring course, "The English Novel." I embraced Austen's view of marriage in a big way (probably ultimately to my detriment) , but I didn't get into any of her novels until my late 20's--I think I attempted Pride and Prejudice in college but found it a slog to get through the first 50 pages, Mansfield Park is 400 pages of boredom leading to a mere 50 pages of scandalous fun at the end, and Northanger Abbey confused me.

I read Sense and Sensibility while recovering from my broken arm, which lead to a rereading of the other books including P&P the summer after I split with the ex and Persuasion 2 years ago. The reason why these books endure is that the search for love and affection is the same--we all want someone who will love us when we bring nothing but our worst selves to the table, who will want us despite shortsightedness and stupidity and selfishness, and give us a second chance. They give me hope, every one of them.

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