Jane Austen Superstar

August 23rd, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

We can’t recall when our love affair with Jane Austen novels began — though we promise it was long before Colin Firth became the face of Mr. Darcy in our imagination (not that we would ever complain). It pleases us beyond belief that Austen is finally being taken seriously as an author. Austen both redefined and refined women’s fiction. The books she was raised on, by Ann Radcliffe or Maria Edgeworth, are now defined as subversive literature. They both told interesting stories while communicating information to the readers; Austen took this dual purpose in a new direction when she turned her wit on society as her readers knew it rather than using a crumbling gothic castle as her setting (though she did lampoon her favorites in our beloved Northanger Abbey). The Austen tradition carries forth to today, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

What we enjoy most about Austen is that she wasn’t a nice woman. It’s hard to be honest and kind simultaneously. That’s not to say she wasn’t sympathetic, but when you live a society (as we do) where ridiculousness abounds, why not expose the warts and all?

To categorize Austen as simply a writer of romantic fiction is foolish. Austen is cynical where most romance is hopeful; her characters are often deeply flawed. Her world may be, on the surface, one of cottages and vast lawns and graceful flowers, but it is really an interior world, one she renders, unsparingly, with a masterful level of social observation.

  • Jane Austen: A Love Story — For England’s 228-Year-Old Novelist, the Ink Has Yet to Dry

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