Inputs: the Jane Austen edition

September 21st, 2012

A sort-of weekly review of what’s been nourishing me lately.

This has been the year of finally reading Jane Austen’s novels. Or rather, listening to them. The prose is so leisurely, they are perfect stories to hear while falling asleep, or doing the the dishes, or running, because you can miss whole passages without getting lost. It’s like wandering through a rambling country house, with the action happening in various rooms. There’s room to roam around in a Jane Austen story.

I began with Pride and Prejudice, then Sense and Sensibility, and have now moved on to Emma. I remember it being assigned reading in college before I dropped out from boredom and restlessness. I suppose I must skimmed it, but I didn’t remember a thing about it. What a shame that academic reading so often closes young minds to good books. I could have learned a lot from Emma Woodhouse.  These lines could have been written about me at that age:

“Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old. I have seen a great many lists of her drawing up at various times of books that she meant to read regularly through—and very good lists they were—very well chosen, and very neatly arranged—sometimes alphabetically, and sometimes by some other rule. The list she drew up when only fourteen—I remember thinking it did her judgment so much credit, that I preserved it some time; and I dare say she may have made out a very good list now…”

–Chapter 5

Her many beginnings were displayed. Miniatures, half-lengths, whole-lengths, pencil, crayon, and water-colours had been all tried in turn. She had always wanted to do everything, and had made more progress both in drawing and music than many might have done with so little labour as she would ever submit to. She played and sang;—and drew in almost every style; but steadiness had always been wanting; and in nothing had she approached the degree of excellence which she would have been glad to command, and ought not to have failed of.

–Chapter 6

I almost laughed out loud with self-recognition when I came to those bits. Substitute drawing with writing, of course. And yes, dear Mr. Knightley, I have gone on to make many excellent lists of things one ought to be doing. There is one in my open journal next to me right now.

It’s amazing to think that an English woman writing nearly two hundred years ago, out of such a particular place and time, could have my number like that.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? What other books have spoken across time with particular resonance to you?

6 Responses to “Inputs: the Jane Austen edition”

  1. Christie says:

    I love Jane Austen! Read them all numerous times. Other authors that I love Flannery O’Conner, her short stories more than novels. Huck Finn, Jude the Obscure, Bastard out of Carolina, all great reads. All read while in college, well not Huck Finn. I teach that one. I could go on, Scarlett Letter, Pamela, Gone with the Wind. I’m a nerd!

  2. marilee pittman says:

    I just watched” Pride and Prejudice” on Tv. It was the one with Keira Knightly. I loved it…although I sorely missed Colin Firth.

  3. Sheryl says:

    I love Pride and Prejudice, and I love Persuasion. I didn’t care for Emma though.

  4. erika says:

    Love the photo … Still blooming today:)

  5. Jennifer says:

    I try and I try….maybe your idea of listening will bring me to love the books. I am not to sure about running and reading them – I need some pure motivation to make that 3rd mile.
    Keep writing – Jennifer

  6. paleo diet says:

    It’ll get you revved up in the morning, and ready to kick some serious butt at work. Only you (and your doctor) can determine if the Paleo diet is right for you. The soy allergy can extend to other foods in the legume family.

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