Friday, August 10, 2012

Things that really matter

I picked up this book due to a recommendation I heard from Lexicon Valley, a Slate podcast about language which is super interesting. A Jane Austen Education follows William Weresiewicz as he works on his dissertation. He begins graduate school disliking Austen basically on principal, preferring more modern and complicated works like Ulysses. This is a view I have gotten from a lot of people (mostly men) who think that Austen is boring.

Each chapter covers one of Austen's books and is tied to how Weresiewicz grows from a young adult into a well rounded person. The transition that he goes through is especially interesting to me since I feel that I am in the same age of change as he was. For example, this really hit home for me:

"When you're young - when you're in high school and college and even your early twenties - you take your friends for granted. Of course they'll always be there. You take friends for granted. Why would you ever have trouble making new ones? Then all of a sudden - and it can feel very sudden indeed - everybody's gone. Some have moved, some have married, everyone's busy, and the crowd of potential friends by which you've always been surrounded has evaporated." 

One thing I was grateful about was that despite these books being around for forever and having so many adaptations of them, Weresiewicz never gives away the ending to any of them. Which is great because I have a confession to make. I, lover of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen in general, have never read two of her books. Mansfield Park and Persuasion have just never made it onto my selves and after reading this book, I am committed to buying, reading, and loving them. I also think I might dust of an Austen biography that has been sitting on my selves for a long time.

A full Austen loving convert, Weresiewicz ties in thoughtful pieces of critical reading of her works and information about her life in a way that I think would be accessible even to those who aren't Austen crazy. I highly suggest it.

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