The Writing Allstars – Jane Austen

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. (Northanger Abbey)

I’ve always loved Jane Austen. At the present time, I own three hardcover and two paperback versions of Pride and Prejudice and four of them are within an arms reach of my writing desk. I don’t think it is possible for me to love another of her books more, since this was my introduction to her witty and sarcastic commentary on what it is to be human. I wanted to be Elizabeth Bennett and can still remember staying up late, a flashlight on under the covers, to find out what would become of her and Mr. Darcy. Oh! how I loathed Lady Catherine and Caroline Bingley and how I cringed when sweet Charlotte married horrid Mr. Collins out of fear of becoming a burden to her family. I turned page after page with bated breath waiting to see if Mr. Bingley would be brave enough to voice his intentions and if Jane would accept them. It is a rollercoaster of a story with a predictable ending. It is a story of love and pride and friendship and sisterhood. It is a story from my girlhood and I’ll love it til I die!

Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken. (Emma)

Perhaps one of the reasons I love her so dearly is because she tricked us. Her stories, full of witty dialogue and dances, sisters and secrets, seem to be stories for our entertainment. The reality of the matter is that underneath all of the irony and wit, Austen is showing us how people think. She sets up her characters, layers upon layers of personality, and then lets you peer right through them. She lets you see the good, the bad, and the ugly and shows you what is worthy of your attention; she shows you yourself. You judge Emma or Fanny Price, only to realize that in doing so, you have become like them. This is Austen’s strength, to make us complicit in the sins of her characters and so to reveal our hidden selves.

One man’s ways may be as good as another’s, but we all like our own best. (Persuasion)

I love the way that Austen can lay out so clearly the character of a person, all bare bones and angles, and yet show you something so much more substantial. Her images are so true that they become reflections of the reader, revealing our humanity on a deeper level. She unites us in our vices and begs us to become something better. She preaches, but she does so beautifully.

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library. (Pride and Prejudice)

Because of Jane Austen I learned that sarcasm is an art form. Because of Austen I realized that the mundane can be miraculous. Because of her I found Edgeworth and Alcott. Because of Jane Austen I am the writer I am today.

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2 thoughts on “The Writing Allstars – Jane Austen

  1. Oh how I love Jane Austen. I remember when I read her I felt like a woman. I felt like I understood love. What I found interesting about her is that she managed to make me believe that she intimately knew happy endings. I was very surprised that the happiness she shared was only in her imagination.

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