Monday, May 31, 2010

Jane Austen

I like to read a classic of literature at least once a year. June is the month that I usually do this mostly because I tend to have vacation time in June and a good book is a requirement. I remember once, when I was a young adult, having very little money just taking off with a copy of Dicken's Hard Times and reading it in my tent, in a youth hostel in Ludlow Vermont and then Montreal. I remember being lonely and broke but having a great vacation nonetheless.

Tomorrow is the first day of June and I just read the introduction to Pride and Prejudice and I couldn't be more excited to start a book. A few months ago I posted the question to friends whether to read it. The guys said to skip Jane Austen and all my woman friends responded with an emphatic Yes. For this reason alone, I am curious. It couldn't be more cut and dry on the gender appeal. I tend to like classics for the language more than the plot. Austen is less famous for her use of language and more so for her character development. I already know the story of this novel from seeing several film versions so I hope to pay close attention to how she uses character to drive the plot. Some of my favorite books are written by women (Wuthering Heights, Beloved and The Fountainhead) so I tend to think that I will not agree with the guys on this one.

Jane Austen's first novel was Pride and Prejudice but was not the first to be published. She finished it when she was only 21 years old. When her father read the manuscript, he immediately brought it to a publish and it was immediately returned. She later published Sense and Sensibility then Pride and Prejudice published afterwards. Neither book bore her name. The first said "by a lady." The second simply said "by the same author as Sense and Sensibility." It wasn't until after her death in 1817 that her name actually appeared on her books when Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.

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