Monday, July 02, 2007

On the superbness of Austen


Pride and Prejudice (1995)
Originally uploaded by scchiang
A week of holiday in a village without an Internet connection is a splendid thing. For the first time in I think in a year I actually left home without my laptop and filled the laptop pocket of my backbag with books. The first one on my list was Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice - often praised for its language, made into a classic BBC production boosting the sex appeal of Colin Firth and mentioned as one of his favourite novels by my flatmate. So reasons enough to grab it.

There's been research that men usually read books by men and women read books by men and women. I also admit that most of my favourite novelists are actually men although I read in a balanced manner - even taking notice of it. Austen - maybe do to the dramatisations (especially the one with the annoying grin of Keira Knightley) - is often branded as a women's novelist. I feel that it does not do justice to her talent. If she had been a man (well, first of all she would not have written books like Pride and Prejudice), I am 100 % certain she would be even more famoous than she is.

Austen's characters are astounding. She builds them up with wit and dialogue and not by focusing on describing their looks that much. At least Pride and Prejudice is a book of dialogue, a perfect novel for someone passionate for language and wit. Especially her female characters stand out from the novels of her time as women with opinions and self-esteem. By comparing Elizabeth Bennet to her marriage-obsessed mother, Austen shows how women like Elizabeth - without the safety of a rich family - paved way for feminism and by risking a lot showed that women can take other roles than obedience.

Pride and Prejudice made its way to my Top 10 of novels. I feel it is a book that I will be returning to when I once again wish to sharpen up my English and make it livelier, funnier and richer.

1 comment:

Petra said...

Ah, and the rest of them are very readable as well! I thought Jane might be one the many who have had to be thrown out of my faves' list due to awakening [hah] to feminism -but no. She can definitely stay. Persuasion, with the (meta)discussions going on, about who is to be trusted (men or women), who has written what (men), who has interpreted history etc. etc. No, Austen's got it. The sad side of the story is that the same questions persist. But then there are all of us wonderful people making the world a little better... ;D