an austen-ish april

I’ve spent the last month living in the world of Jane Austen, listening my way through Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma. There’s something about the language and tone of Jane Austen’s prose that’s so addicting, and April — with its rain and blooms bringing the English countryside to mind — seemed like the perfect month to wallow in her work.

I listen to P&P on a regular basis, but it had been awhile since I’ve revisited Sense and Sensibility and even longer since I’d read Emma (since high school, I think).  Though Austen’s tale of Elizabeth and Darcy is easily my favorite of her work, I greatly enjoyed my return to the other two as well and would probably rank them as my next two favorites.  I’ve read and liked Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion, but the heroines of those don’t have the charm or grace of the others.

One thing I found intriguing about Emma was Austen’s shift in perspective.   Most of her protagonists are, shall we say, finacially-challenged.  They’re not poor, exactly, but they’re not heiresses, either.  Emma is an exception.  I don’t remember noticing this the first time I read it — it may be that I wasn’t familiar enough with Austen’s work, or it may be that, at 17, my awareness of social issues wasn’t quite developed.  But class and income play such an important role in the interactions between her characters, and in the society they exist within, that seeing that society from a different point of view — particularly right after finishing the other two books — was really interesting.  Listening to Emma immediately after the other two particularly emphasized this; were I ever to read Austen from an academic rather than leisurely perspective, I think the role class plays in the characterization of her heroines would be a fascinating study.

I capped my month of Austen off by watching two movie adaptations this week: the Emma Thompson/Hugh Grant version of Sense and Sensibility and the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice.  Though both pictures are forced to simplify the plots (time, etc), they are lovely movies that capture not only the beautiful stories, but both the humor and heart that make Austen’s work what it is.  The fact that both hold up so well when viewing so soon after reading the source material is a credit to them.

So now April has drawn to a close, and my current Austen preoccupation is closing with it.  Anyone have any recommendations for a fixation for May?

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~ by Molly on April 30, 2010.

2 Responses to “an austen-ish april”

  1. I have never thought of listening to P&P, but this is such a great idea. It’s my favorite Austen and since I read it first of all of her books, nothing else compares.

  2. […] an austen-ish april […]

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