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Thursday, August 19

Thoughts About Jane Austen

Poking around the internet always leads to interesting new trails and information. Case in point, the Bookstove, a site that collects articles and reviews. Two anti-Jane posts caught my eye:

Going off Austen: This writer is considering taking Pride and Prejudice off her book shelves. Do you agree, disagree? Inquiring minds want to know.

Five Reasons Why Mr. Darcy Can't Satisfy Today's Woman is sure to get your goat. Or perhaps not if you are a Mr. Knightley, Colonel Brandon, or Henry Tilney fan. Enjoy the article, then let us know what you think of the author's opinion!

(Icons created for a 2007 Jane Austen Today contest)


Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you Mary.

Have either of them actually read Pride and Prejudice?

Giulia said...

Well, I'll get back to you. I was so peeved by the pop-ups, ads, & stupid music on the first link post that I couldn't read what she has to say. All of that goop on her site makes me think she hasn't any taste. At all. Harumph.

Anonymous said...

The author of the first article seems more intent on being current and hip than connecting with the emotions that P & P stir in many people, and her at one point in time.

The author of the second article just doesn't get it.

Raquel said...

When I've started reading the first article I thought, is it written by it Patricia Rozema? I ended up laughing when I read the last sentence, because I was not completely wrong!

The second, well, perhaps Ms. Reality is right about what the girls would think about Mr. Darcy nowadays, but I'm pretty sure that they would changed their mind after seeing Pemberley.

Poor Mr. Darcy...

Karen said...

I am of the opinion that the article about Mr. Darcy was written based solely on the 2005 movie. And I didn't particularly care for the way he was portrayed in that one, either. So I would probably have to agree with his points. On the other hand, Colin Firth's portrayal, and Jane Austen's actual novel, give us a better picture of the man. I would be interested in hearing his thoughts based on that, but he probably wouldn't give it the time of day.

Alisa said...

I hate it when people try critisize history in retroperspective in a way as if people back then "should have known better". Like all the "19th century Britain was so racist and sexist!" type of talk. It was what it was and it is futile to apply our set of values afterwards. We can't change what happened. We can look at the past and analzye it and learn from the mistakes, but we shouldn't condemn people for acting according to their times' standards.

People were as "advanced" (by our judgement) as they could be based on their own experience and history. A lot of events happened in between, resulting in our modern mindset, but people then couldn't just have pulled ideas out of nowhere. It's not like every single servant was sitting in their chambers and bemoaning the injustice of their system and waiting for democracy and unions, or as if every woman felt oppressed for not being able to go to the army or into politics...

God knows how the world might change one day and find values that we find normal, universal and necessary - things as essential as democracy or human rights - ridiculous or wrong. I certainly don't hope so, and I am a firm believer in our values... but so were many people in the past with their values, and who would have thought then how much the normal order would change.

If an author, artist or composer might seem backwards to us today they still might have been ahead of the average person in their own time. How silly to criticize Austen wasn't feminist enough for our standards - by hers she was.

And if that blogger looks down on people who enjoy these novels because they actually have an understanding of history and how some events might have affected readers in Austen's time (like the shock effect of an elopement) - then that just shows how shallow her understanding of history is.

Why should we not be able to enjoy a book even if tiny passages of it are against our modern values? A smart reader will be able to relate to what it was like then, and at the same time distanced enough not to apply the sentiments in modern life.
The majoritiy of Austen themes are universal anyway (economical security, love...).

Southerner said...

I agree, retrospective judgements are wrong. I can easily imagine criticism of our generation in the future. Already there are news articles appearing about how the new and upcoming generation, those just out of university, can't get jobs and can't afford housing and they are blaming our generation for being greedy. What did we know????
(Or is this just in Britain?)