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The Appeal of Austen

January 7, 2008

So I just finished reading Persuasion by Jane Austen. I bought it at Borders one day because it was $5.95, and I haven’t seen books that cheap since I first started reading. Anyway, I had heard (not even though a real person, probably through a movie or something…ugh) that it was her best novel. I read Pride and Prejudice in high school, and didn’t like it. I think partly because Mrs. Hendry made us read the whole thing over Christmas break and I was pissed about it, and partly because it was kind of tedious. If Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy had just grown some balls and stopped being so pissy, they would have gotten together 30 pages into that thing. Not that I’m one to talk, but it just irked me. Persuasion was no different. The heroine is persuaded out of an engagement to Captain Wentworth by a friend because he doesn’t have enough money. Fast forward 8 years. Anne is 27 (and apparently now her looks are slippin’) and Captain Wentworth is back, with cash. Except now he thinks she’s falling in love with her cousin. So, I don’t know. The big reveal at the end is that they both still love each other, and through a series of very very long conservations, all is explained. There’s not even any kissing!!

I just don’t get what the appeal is. There were at least 11 Jane Austen spinoffs listed at Amazon at first glance, mainly about Mr. Darcy. From what I can tell, Colin Firth is responsible for this entire mess by his portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the TV version of Pride and Prejudice (and rightly so…he’s a hottie). There were two movies recently about Jane Austen (The Jane Austen Book Club and Becoming Jane (which is mostly fiction)) not even including the recent Pride and Prejudice that was so aptly ruined by Keira Knightley. There have been film versions of all her other 5 novels, none of which I’ve seen. And judging from Kate Winslet’s hair in this photo


never will. Yet, PBS is airing the complete Jane Austen starting Sunday 1/13. And I will probably watch it. They’re making new versions of Persuasion, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey, and also showing older versions of Pride and Prejudice and Emma. I suspect this mainly has to do with the fact that with the writer’s strike there’s nothing except crap on TV now. But partially, I feel like maybe I missed something in Persuasion, or Pride and Prejudice and should read them again. And then maybe read the rest of the books. At any rate, I’ll be able to kick ass on Jeopardy! when the category is 19th century romantic novels.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2008 8:11 pm

    I have never understood the appeal of Mr. Firth. I suppose he’s handsome enough, but there seems to be a disproportionate amount of fervor about him. Explain, please.

  2. meg2885 permalink*
    January 10, 2008 8:44 pm

    Well I haven’t seen him in Pride and Prejudice, but I would guess it has to do with the accent. And….I don’t know. I don’t understand it, but I agree with the fervor.

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