Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Favorite Author

Can you guess who it is?  I'll give you a hint: She's perhaps the most well-known female novelist of all time and in my opinion, the most misunderstood writer.  To the general public, anyway.

I am speaking of none other than the great Jane Austen.  She was the cleverest.  Her novels are smart, funny, and thoughtful.  Contrary to what Hollywood might have you believe, she didn't just write empty stories about the romantic intrigues of handsome English men and women.  She used those stories to comment on societal problems and cultural mores -- and she did it with flare!  I defy anyone who says they didn't laugh out loud at least once while reading one of her novels -- women and men alike!

I could go on and on about this, but you'll never quite get what I'm saying until you just read one of her works.  Or watch a truly incredible adaptation of one of them.  So I'm making a list for you, so it'll be easy for you to get to know Jane Austen's work without being overwhelmed with seven novels all at once or an abundance of movie adaptations and fan fiction.

  • Pride and Prejudice
    In a letter to her sister Cassandra, Austen called this her "light and bright and sparkling novel."  And so it is.  Everything ends happily, so if you want a good laugh and perhaps the best dialogue you'll ever read, pick this book up.
  • Sense and Sensibility
    Perhaps the complete opposite of Pride and Prejudice, this novel is about the depressing effects of primogeniture.  Still, there are some silver linings that keep you from sobbing outright at the end.
  • Persuasion
    One of her last novels, this one was published posthumously.  I'm not sure how it fared at the time, but I think it's gained much popularity since BBC adapted it in 1995.  It's a touching story of a woman who was once persuaded not to marry the man she loved.

  • Sense and Sensibility (Directed by Ang Lee, 1995)
    This is, without a doubt, the best adaptation of an Austen novel.  It's also in my top 10 favorite movies of all-time.  From the cinematography to the casting to the screenplay, this movie is excellent.  It conveys perfectly the tone of Austen's novel, which is for me, sort of sad and happy all at once.

If you read and watch what I told you to and still want more, I would suggest taking a course devoted entirely to Jane Austen, which is what I did in college.  :)  If that's not feasible, then read all seven of her works, and let's talk about them together!  My personal favorite is Mansfield Park, but for some reason, it's not one that lots of people are drawn to . . .  Actually, I think it's because it's not very clear-cut.  It can be interpreted in so many different ways, which in my opinion, is the fun part!  Ah, well.  If you read Mansfield Park, then I'll invite you over to watch the movie (directed by Patricia Rozema, 1999), and we will analyze it to our hearts' content.

Thing I'm thankful for: York Peppermint Patties


Blogger Aubrey said...

Persuasion is my very favorite.
I've never seen a movie of it though! I need to get on that.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Aubrey: Yeah, you do. There are a few versions, but the 1995 BBC adaptation is a pretty good one. I almost included it in my post, but I didn't want to scare people away from Austen with too much to do!

10:28 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

So I read Pride and Prejudice and it bored me to tears (well, I probably didn't cry). Would you please comment more on the commentary that Austen was making? I'm hoping that if I understand it better, I'll appreciate it more.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Haha -- I love your honesty, Pete. I will try to think of something for you and write a succinct analysis here . . .

4:52 PM  

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