Why I’ve Always Hated Jane Austen (Until Now)

17 Oct

Having spent countless hours reading, cramming dates, numbered volumes and collections into my exhausted brain, and living on carbs and caffeine, I took a break from reading. I’m saddened to say  as a literature student it took a lot longer than it should have for me to get back into the groove. Everyone has their favorite books and for the most part, mine are the classics. I love To Kill a Mockingbird, The Divine Comedy, The Canterbury Tales, and pretty much anything by Kurt Vonnegut. But something has always stuck in my craw with Jane Austen.

For this, I apologize. Because I am about to commit the cardinal sin of lit study. Never hate on an author with a  massive fan base-they are VERY protective. But I was very adamant and vocal for many years. I just couldn’t get passed the word choice, whiney-ness, and every feminist bone in my body stirred when I tried to read one of her books (however, the attempt is still on my 30 by 30).

Nonetheless, this week I came across a book that helped me get beyond my distain.

I still don’t know what made me buy it.

Perhaps a message almost two centuries later…?

But I can honestly say I really enjoyed it.  It made me realize that my hatred was due to ignorance (but isn’t almost always?) This book goes into great detail. Who in the world would know what  a “impecunious gentlewoman”, or “primogeniture” and a “valetudinarians” was?

You can also learn some standard  tasks like proper correspondence, how to dress, and raise a family. To much more intricate and elaborate needs like how to decline a marriage proposal, attend a ball, and carry on a secret engagement. When I read through the types of situations and in some cases crazy scenarios a woman like Jane would have to endure, I have new respect for her.  This is not to say I will pick up every Austen book I have an read them day and night. There is still a good chance I won’t make it through another page but I now politely just say, “no thanks, Austen’s not for me. ”



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