The Classics Club Monthly Meme – March 2013

Do you love Jane Austen or want to “dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone”? (Phrase borrowed from Mark Twain).

Why? (for either answer)?
Favorite and/or least favorite Austen novel? – Classics Club March Meme

I love Jane Austen. Here are a few reasons:

  1. Characters and character development. Most of her lead characters well rounded, flawed, and engaging. Furthermore, they learn things and grow with the progression of the novel.
  2. Her subtle social commentary especially in regards to gender and societal norms as it applies to Regency England. Even now, I can relate to some of the things she wrote two hundred years ago. Austen understands women and writes about women in an intelligent manner.
  3. Following up on that, her proto-feminist and strong female protagonists. Elizabeth Bennet rejects two marriage proposals, Elinor Dashwood has sense and is realistic about money, and while Anne Elliot falls prey to other people’s influence at first, she develops her own sense of worth by the end of the novel. Quora has an answer on Austen’s heroines with feminist ideals.
  4. As a result of her strong female leads, the romances in her books are believable, touching and intelligent. All the couples have realistic conflicts such as timing and misunderstanding, but they overcome them in the end and are better people for it. Emma and Anne both knew their partners when the novel began, but neither would have would have become entangled if they didn’t learn a thing or two in the process.
  5. Austen’s writing style is witty, humorous, and perceptive. She is immensely rereadable and clever without being heavy. She was a one of the first to use first indirect discourse which is discussed on another Quora answer about what makes her a great author (love Quora).

As for favourites, I’ve enjoyed all of her novels, but Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion are the ones I read first and have reread most, followed by Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. I wouldn’t be against rereading Mansfield Park, but I’m not itching for it; I just read it last year. I do think her characters in that lacked the character development that I liked so much in the other novels.

I understand Austen is not everyone’s cup of tea for many a reason, but the above summarizes why I like her. I definitely don’t force her on anyone, but reading her books have been rewarding for me.

Happy March, everyone!