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Topic: Thoughts on Jane Austen?

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Subject: Thoughts on Jane Austen?
Date Posted: 8/13/2009 11:49 AM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
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I'm quite interested to hear what everyone has to say about Jane Austen. I was a lit major in college and had to take a Victorian Women Writers class, and it about killed me. I hated every book we had to read. I have never like Austen, but because I was a literature major, I always felt guilty about it. Now, 5 years later, I figured I'd pick up an Austen novel and see if I wasn't sorely mistaken. I'm currently in the middle of Northanger Abbey, and again, I am not liking it. It's taking me forever to finish because I just don't want to pick it up.

Am I the only person out there who doesn't like her??? Is something wrong with me?!

I would love to hear thoughts on what people like or dislike about her writing. Also, which of her books do you love and/or hate (and why)?

Date Posted: 8/13/2009 12:11 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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A minor point, but Jane Austen isn't a Victorian writer.

I enjoy her books very much.  I love her wit, her characterizations.  And I love that her books have what modern romances mainly lack, sky high stakes.  I think Northanger Abby can be a little more difficult for modern readers than her other novels as it is partly a parody of the gothic novels that were Twilight-level popular at the time she was writing.  And parody can fall pretty flat if you haven't read/seen what is being parodied.  I would suggest Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.  But if you don't enjoy her books - read something else!  Not everyone likes the same things, and there's no harm or shame in that.

Date Posted: 8/13/2009 1:02 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
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I confess that I do like Jane Austen's books - at least some of them. I usually take a cheap paperback of Pride and Prejudice when I'm travelling, so I can enjoy re-reading it, then leave it in some hotel's 'library' and someone else may be tempted to try it. The same with Persuasion.

But - Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Mansfield Park all have characters or aspects that annoy me so much that I haven't been able to re-read them, even though I remind myself that there were parts of each that I did like.

You might try renting one of the movies made from her books, then if you like the plot and characters in it, read that one. Even there, opinions vary - many seem to think the version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth is the greatest thing since sliced bread was invented; I thought it stuck in too much that wasn't anywhere in the book; I prefer the earlier PBS version wit David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie. YMMV

Date Posted: 8/13/2009 1:14 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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Oooh, I love Sense and Sensibility!  But I think most people agree that Fanny Price is a pill.  The movie (Mansfield Park) is fabulous, though. 

To be honest, though I enjoyed them, the current fetishization of her books is a little baffling to me.

Date Posted: 8/13/2009 2:05 PM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
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I really disliked Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. I had to read them both in high school and in college. I picked up Northanger Abbey partly because I love gothic novels, and I thought I would like it more because it was considered as such. I'm not done with it yet, so I won't pass my final judgment.

I will try Persuasion after this, and if I don't like that, then I'm moving on!

I've seen a lot of the movies based off of her novels, and the only one I really liked was actually Emma.

Date Posted: 8/13/2009 2:53 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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It sounds like your torturing yourself needlessly.

I find the 18th century gothics pretty heavy going.  Udolpho is something on my list that I've been meaning to give a second chance.  I couldn't get through it the first time I tried about 15 years ago.

Date Posted: 8/13/2009 6:55 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
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I'm psyching myself up to read Pride & Prejudice! I think it's gonna be hard to get into with the language and time period so I'm waiting til I'm off work and have some free time so I wont' be disturbed...and put on the tea kettle!

Subject: Gothics
Date Posted: 8/13/2009 8:19 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
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I agree that the original gothic novels are pretty hard for a modern reader to get into - all that melodramatic language. I may have been ruined for them by a literature prof who apparently got stuck with teaching the Romanitc Literature course and liked to point out the more purple bits of prose. As I remember, he claimed the line that made him laugh the most was "'Hark,' said isabella, 'it is a trap door'" - I can't remember which gothic that came from; it may even be Udolpho.

Back to the original post - I think what I like most about Jane Austen is her wicked, subtle sense of humor. The only part I remember specifically from Mansfield Park (apart from Fanny being so tiresomely virtuous) is the scene where Sir Thomas returns from a journey of several months, and his wife is so overwhelmed by emotion that she actually makes her pug dog move over on the sofa so Sir Thomas can sit down.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 10:53 PM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
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I think you're right. I am needlessly torturing myself. I have officially set aside Northanger Abbey, and I have no intention of finishing it. I feel like I'm wasting my time reading it when I have stacks of other books I've been waiting to read for ages.

I officially DO NOT LIKE Jane Austen. There, I said it.

 

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 10:56 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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LOL  Don't you feel better, now?

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 11:54 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2008
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Try adding some zombies to your Jane Austen.

Pride and Prejudice With Zombies.

Or Sense and Sensibility with Sea Monsters.

Or Mr. Darcy, Vampyre.

Maybe that will spice things up. LOL!

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 11:57 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Sarah,

Congratulations on being honest. I appreciate it.

I don't feel the love for Austen either. It's apparently "in" to like this stuff what with all the modern movies and books linking themselves to her work.  The only book Austen related that holds my interest for a nano-second is that silly book Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

I wish someone would pummel Mr. Darcy.



Last Edited on: 8/15/09 12:03 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/14/2009 11:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Oh Gr8,

We posted around the same time. I didn't realize there were so many parodies on Austen crap.

Date Posted: 8/15/2009 12:58 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
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Laura - You're allowed to dislike Jane Austen, but it seems rude to me to refer to an author who many other like as "crap." Some of us actually like her books since well before the wave of movies, etc.,
Date Posted: 8/15/2009 9:31 AM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2008
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I think that Austen could write well, but I have found her books to be really depressing.  In a bad way, I have to add, because I enjoy reading a lot of books that are intentionally depressing.  But with Austen, you can tell right from the start that everything is going to wrap up neatly at the end in a way that perfectly maintains the status quo.  I always feel bad for all her characters because they never really have a true range of possible outcomes.



Last Edited on: 8/15/09 9:32 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/15/2009 11:05 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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I love Jane Austen.  I've loved her since I was 11 years old and saw Emma the movie for the first time.  She's got humor, insight, drama, romance, what's not to like?

Date Posted: 8/15/2009 12:58 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2008
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LOL @ Laura.

I must confess that I like the IDEA of Jane Austen more than I think I actually like her.

I loved the Sense and Sensibility movie of a few years ago, but never read the book.

I had to read Pride and Prejudice in high school, and seriously, it took me 25 tries to get started. I had three weeks to read it and I could not get past page 10. It was the only time I skipped reading a classic before the deadline (I had even made it through Don Quixote!). I took the quizzes just from the class discussions.

Well, I finally got a little ticked off at P & P and decided that I would read it come heck or high water. This time, I was able to finish it.

I have P & P on my summer reading list (for a reread), but did I get to it--NOPE!

Date Posted: 8/15/2009 10:56 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2009
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For those who do not care for Austen, you are in very good company because Charlotte Bronte didn't like Austen at all!  I'm curious... I wonder if those who do not find themselves liking Austen's work actually prefer Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights?

Date Posted: 8/16/2009 12:22 AM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2008
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I *loved* Jane Eyre.

But Wuthering Heights

--I've tried and tried....

Last Edited on: 8/16/09 12:22 AM ET - Total times edited: 2

Date Posted: 8/16/2009 8:53 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 387
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I love Austen particularly Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion.   Her work has very sly humor and wit.  Her work is a great example of a very interesting and short lived time period in British history. Its definitely not Victorian.

I was a bit disappointed with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I felt it could have been excellent had they dealt with the zombies in a more british like manner.  I have wishlisted Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters though I think the authors have missed an opportunity to make Persuasion with sea monsters.  Half the characters are in the Navy for goodness sakes and it takes place ON the sea shore.

I also really like Jane Eyre, but I can't stand Wuthering Heights.  Talk about wanting to pummel someone, Catherine and Heathcliff deserve a good beating.  I really enjoyed a reference from Jasper Fforde when he talks about a Wuther Heights anger management group.

What books "literature" or otherwise people like is mostly a matter of taste.  I personally abhor Steinbeck and most of Charles Dickens, but I know a lot of people really like them.

Date Posted: 8/16/2009 9:56 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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but it seems rude to me to refer to an author who many other like as "crap."

 

Would waste matter be more agreeable?

Date Posted: 8/16/2009 11:00 PM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
Posts: 186
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For the record, I HATE Wuthering Heights. Even more than Austen's books, I think. Jane Eyre is okay. I don't like the Brontes. Or George Eliot, either.

I think I'll stick to my Steinbeck, Kathryn. Sorry. But, I agree...I'm  not a Dickens fan either.

Okay...no more complaining about authors I don't like. There are tons that I do!

Date Posted: 8/17/2009 6:29 AM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2008
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I can't stand Jane Austen! I thought I was the only one.  I work at a bookstore and my co-worker is a HUGE Jane Austen fan.  Her eyes light up when she talks about Austen, Pride and Prejudice, etc.  When she asked what my favorite Austen book was one day, I had to politely inform her that I wasn't a fan.  She acted like I'd killed her puppy and got very defensive and said "WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE ABOUT AUSTEN?!?!"  I told her I wasn't a big fan of romances in general, and that Austen's writing style and plots lines just weren't very interesting to me.  She said that to reduce Austen to merely a 'romance' writer was a crime.  The co-worker hasn't spoken to me since (and this happened two years ago).

So....you're not alone in your dislike for Austen, but I would say that we are definitely the minority.  :) 

Date Posted: 8/17/2009 8:41 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
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Laura - just referring to the club rule at the top of the page, about being 'courteous and respectful.'
Date Posted: 8/17/2009 8:33 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Margaret,

Many consider Austen a writer of masterpieces. Well, not everyone is a big fan. This thread allows others to share an "unusual" dislike for Austen's literature.

It's truly weird that you're so offended that I dislike the glorious Jane Austen. I can't figure out why you care or why your feeling would be hurt over my dislike for an long dead author. 

However, If I want to call an author's work genius, brilliant, a great read, garbage, drivel, pap, pulp fiction, a total bore, and yes, even crap, it's absolutely my perogative. It has nothing to to with the "Golden Rule" that you pointed out.

Is ask you to please give others the courtesy and respect  by allowing them to vent their true feelings about literature.

Remember, this is a dislike for Jane Austen's work. It's not a personal attack on you!

 

 

.



Last Edited on: 8/17/09 9:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
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