My Misguided Affair with Jane Austen

For a long time now, I’ve hailed Jane Austen as my least favourite author. Having suffered through Pride and Prejudice at GCSE and despising every second of it, I couldn’t bring myself to suffer through Sense and Sensibility. However now, I’m compelled to read Mansfield Park  in preparation for next term, and so snuggled up in bed with a pot of tea, I braced myself for yet another sitting room drama and social commentary. And was extremely pleasantly surprised.

I’ve always found the endless social details of Jane Austen nothing but intolerable, but when I began this novel, I was slowly brought around to the idea that I may actually enjoy Jane Austen. The story of Fanny Price departs from the diatribe that is (at least in my opinion) Pride and Prejudice and begins to explore themes a little wider than marriage, and the roles of women; she begins to look at adultery and themes of friendship. The humility of Fanny is endearing to any reader, and unlike Pride and Prejudice, there seems to be a little more in the way of progression and action, which as a reader, I find crucial.

Jane Austen's House (1)

In much the same way as I find Much Ado About Nothing intolerable, I like a novel to have an engaging and interesting plot, if only so that I can enjoy it on a superficial level, and to give some enjoyment to  the physical act of reading. There is nothing worse than having to struggle with a novel, reducing it to being an unendurable experience. Fundamentally, reading should be a positive act, something to entrance the mind instead of repelling it. By making literature inaccessible to everyone say a selected few, the author strangles his industry. That is not to say that Jane Austen is inaccessible however; only in my personal opinion, at least she was, up until now.

Whilst I haven’t quite finished the novel quite yet, I feel as though I’m going to enjoy it. I may become fascinated with her as both a person and a writer, and I think that after this novel, I will try to tackle Emma. Suggestions here are welcome!  I think my plan for the evening involves a small drink with my flat mates, an episode of Blackadder, and then an evening of Mansfield Park. What more could I ask for?





12 thoughts on “My Misguided Affair with Jane Austen

      • That sounds good. I think after Mansfield Park will be either “Utopia”, by Thomas More, or James Joyce’s “Dubliners”. Any recommendations? (:

  1. Well, I am dying to get my hands on the uncut version of “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Have you read any Washington Irving stories? I love him….Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow etc.

    • “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is my list for rereading. I should have a look at Washington Irving. (: I never thought I’d have so much choice for reading. It’s an interesting balance between reading for fun and reading for uni. I do love Oscar Wilde though… I think a dissertation on him would be fantastic!

  2. I adore Wilde. I’ll be teaching “Dorian Gray” after Christmas…and “Dubliners” coincidentally. If you ever decide to go ahead with the dissertation I can put you in touch with a lecturer over here who would be a great source of info on Wilde. I’d also recommend “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne as a great winter read!

    • That sounds really good. I’ve never read “The Scarlet Letter” but I think it might go on my christmas list… I’m going to need a six month christmas to get time to do all this reading and go to work! I hope your teaching goes well, it sounds like a good module! (:

  3. Pingback: Where Post-Colonialism Takes A Nineteenth Century Stroll | The Adventures of an English Student

  4. Pingback: Links: June 2012 « Mansfield Park

  5. I really enjoyed this post. I’m a young Austen fan, and I adored Mansfield Park and Pride and Prejudice. Unfortunatly I struggled to enjoy Emma and gave up after a couple of chapters. But I suppose I was fifteen at the time. I’m challenging myself to read all six books during the summer holidays 🙂

    • That’s such a good goal to have over the summer! I have an entire reading list for second year to tackle this summer, so I hope all goes well with yours! Let me know how you get on!

      Thank you for reading (:
      SarahAlice (:

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