Friday, August 09, 2013

A Bicentennial Resolution

OK, I will admit it. I am not a big fan of romance as a genre, either in film or literature. It's just not my thing. Some people really like it. Good for you. But it has been brought to my attention yet again, that this is the bicentennial of the publication of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Which even I know is the most famous work of the first truly great romantic novelist.

Oddly I have a site dedicated to her linked in the sidebar, mostly for it's great posts on late Georgian society and culture, but I have never read any of her books. Not one. But because of my love of period literature and fiction and in consideration of the anniversary, I am going to make a stab at it.

Any suggestions? Should I go for one of her other works or stick with Mr. Darcey and Miss Bennet?


Matushka Anna said...

I really enjoy P&P because it's so funny. :) Also very enjoyable are Persuasion and Mansfield Park (my next two favorites).

Anonymous said...

Austen isn't really romantic. Not in the literary sense. Her novels extol practicality and good sense. Romanticism is about yearning for the unattainable and following your deepest longings (among other things). It emphasizes the heart, not the head. Austen has characters that do both, but the most sympathetic characters are those that temper their emotions with reason, or at least learn to do so by the end.

Chris Jones said...

"Austen isn't really romantic."

True dat. Hers are "novels of manners" rather than true romance novels. I think of the Bronte sisters, not Austen, as the founders of the romance genre.

All of Austen's novels are marvelous. You could start with P&P, or Sense and Sensibility, or Emma. Only Mansfield Park is to be set apart. It is darker in theme than the others, and I'm glad to have read it after the others.

James Keys said...

As much as I enjoy the Austen novels I think "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte might be the greatest English language novel ever written.

Han said...

Start with Pride and Prejudice because it is the most accessible. Then, for a deeply Christian novel with a protagonist that we are meant to like, but many do not, read Mansfield Park. Then, for a character study with a protagonist that we are meant to dislike, but many do not, read Emma. Thereafter, for a mature romance, which on the one hand comments on the problems with Romanticism but on the other embraces it, read Persuasion and contrast it to Sense and Sensibility, which is decidedly not Romantic. Finish off with Lady Susan and Northanger Abbey because they are in the Seven Novels of Jane Austen volume that you picked up at Barnes and Nobel for the bargain price of $12.00, because, why not.

Matthew Petersen said...

I think Mansfield Park is the most "thinky."

Also, Austen isn't a romance writer. She mocks the romance genera as much as anything.