Sunday, March 29, 2015

Jane Austen and Me

I have a confession to make.

I am not a fan of Jane Austen's novels.

Yes, I know she is a skilled writer. I appreciate her humor and satire. I've even taught Pride and Prejudice.

And as a veteran English teacher with an MA in English Literature, I should like her work.

But frankly, if I were not teaching it I would not be going out of my way to read her fiction.

Her focus on social conventions and situations, and on marriage just don't interest me.

I'm a guy.

Now I do like some romances - though with a dash of gothic. I like Jane Eyre. I like Rebecca. I enjoyed reading them.

But the whole Darcy and Elizabeth business - eh.

I first encountered Austen when I was a teen and college student. People told me I HAD to read her, that she was one of the great English novelists. So I tried Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. I couldn't finish them.

I never got through Pride and Prejudice until I had to teach it. I was older, I could better see what she was doing, but if I didn't have to read it I wouldn't have finished it even then. I've now read it three times, and skimmed it a couple times more.

Still not my cup of tea.

There are other "greats" I was told I had to read, and I did out of duty, got why they are so highly regarded, but still don't particularly like. Faulkner. Hemingway. Tolstoy. Eliot.

Sorry. I'll take Steinbeck, Dostoyevsky, and Dickens over them any day.

And there are many people whom I respect who love Austen - my oldest daughter, for example. I mean no disrespect toward them or the many other Austen fans out there. Enjoy her - just don't expect me to do so.

So I will continue to teach Austen because she is in the curriculum.

I'll even reread her.

Of course, the next version of her I might try is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Now that one might hold my attention.

Pax et bonum

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