March Classic Meme Question

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Do you love Jane Austen or want to “dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone”? (Phrase borrowed from Mark Twain).
1. Why? (for either answer)?
2. Favorite and/or least favorite Austen novel?

Yes! I definitely fall in the love category with Austen. Since reading Pride & Prejudice for the first time 10 years ago I have been a big Austen fan. I’ve read all of her novels, most of them multiple times. Her work is so clever and I gain something new every single time I read it. She manages to talk about the social customs of her time in an objective way. She pokes fun at outdated traditions and allows her characters to buck the social norms. She created some of the most memorable characters is all of literature (Mr. Darcy!). She infuses even the most serious of stories with humor. Her work has been loved for centuries. She has inspired so many film versions of her stories, including Clueless, the modern-day version of Emma and the infamous and wonderful BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. 

2) My favorite Austen novel has always been Persuasion. While I adore the others, Persuasion has a maturity that gives the romance much more depth. There is no love at first sight here, instead it’s a love that has weathered time and opposition. It’s about a woman realizing she has to stand up for herself in order to find happiness. It’s about finding the strength to say no to the people who don’t have your best interest at heart. And that letter! Oh my gosh, that’s enough to make it my favorite all by itself.

My least favorite is Mansfield Park. I’m planning to re-read this soon to see if my opinion has changed, but right now it’s definitely my least favorite. The most common complaint about the book is that the heroine is just too good. It’s hard to relate to someone who seems to have no faults. Also, I never really felt the spark between the heroine and the man she ends up with (don’t worry, no spoilers).

Image from here Classics Club here


Rebecca Chapman said...

I am definitely in the love Austen category as well. She is absolutely hilarious. I have never read anything by an author who is so full of wit and saracasm and everything funny. My favourite is a tie between Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Least favourite would have to be Mansfield Park as well. I dont think that I have read Persuasion for so many years I can barely remember it. I might have to read Persuasion next.

Bybee said...

When I was younger, I didn't 'get' Jane Austen and I agreed with Mark Twain. As I've gotten older, I've grown to appreciate her. Maybe not love, but very very like. Certainly no more shin bone business.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

My favorite Austens are P&P and Emma with Mansfield Park as least favorite as well. I keep hoping that I'll like it more as I age and mature but it hasn't happened yet. There's still time though.

I always thought this Mark Twain quote was excessively harsh. I appreciate that Austen writes about women whereas the Twain I've read doesn't really.

Carl V. Anderson said...

Love her, though I admit it is first and foremost for the films her work has inspired and secondly for her works, which I do very much enjoy. I haven't read Mansfield Park but I don't like the story itself from any film version I've seen or what I've read about it so I would probably default to that as my least favorite.

As for the books, I'm torn. Northanger Abbey is a lot of fun but I'm not sure I could choose one yet as *the* favorite.

Anonymous said...

I love Jane Austen, too! I re-read most of her books recently, and my husband is reading them for the first time. It's hard to say which novel is my favorite, but it's probably Pride and Prejudice. It's funny, thought-provoking, and has withstood the test of time beautifully.

Selah said...

P&P is a sentimental favorite. The old Laurence Olivier film was my first introduction to Austen and I LOVE P&P in (almost) all its versions. Now that I'm older, I think I'll give Persuasion another re-read. I've always enjoyed it but I think I'll get more out of it now.

Poor Mansfield Park! It's everybody's least favorite. Fanny actually reminds me a lot of Elinor Dashwood - quiet, dutiful, and virtuous. But there is no Marianne to bring excitement to the book. Hmm, maybe Mansfield Park needs a re-read too.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy Austen. I admit I am particularly fond of the movie of Sense and Sensibility but prob not my fave read. I will read Mansfield Park with you!

Charlie said...

Love here, too. I never would have imagined that she was funny, and in many ways I wish I'd read her earlier. My favourite's P&P.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Becky – I’m looking forward to re-reading Emma sometime soon too. I read that one almost last and I really liked it, but some of the others had cemented them as my favorites already.

Bybee – I think my appreciation of her has grown with time too. I appreciate different aspects of her work now, not just the wit and romance.

Bookworm1858 – That’s a great point. Twain might be judging her more harshly because none of her work focuses on the male characters in her stories.

Carl V. – There are so many wonderful movies and books inspired by her work! It’s hard to pick a favorite Austen because I love so many of them.

misfortuneofknowing – Oh man, I wish I could get the Huz to fall in love with Jane Austen’s books, but I’m not holding my breath!

Selah – Aww, I love P&P too. I will say that although Fanny and Elinor Dashwood are similar in temperament, the reason people like Elinor more is because she keeps her thoughts to herself. Fanny treats everyone like they are not quite as good and moral as she is and that makes her hard to bear.

You should re-read Mansfield Park with bkclubcare and me!

bkclubcare – I love the 1994 Sense and Sensibility! I could watch that movie so many times. We should definitely read Mansfield Park, maybe this summer?

Charlie – I think a lot of people are surprised by how funny she is. It’s one of my favorite aspects of her work.

Selah said...

I'd love to re-read Mansfield Park with you and bkclubcare! It's been ages since I read a book with someone other than my kids. :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Selah - Great! Maybe we could do it in May or June?

Selah said...

Great! I'll be done with school (I homeschool my kids) on May 17th so I'll have more free time in late May and June.

Roof Beam Reader said...

Great response! She is definitely clever - she's got a great sense of humor and a brilliant ability for observation. I compeltely agree with you, although it took me longer to warm up to Austen. It wasn't love at first sight, but it's definitely an everlasting love now. ;)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Roof Beam Reader - I like that you had to learn to love her. It's like Lizzy and Mr. Darcy. You had to get past the first impression.

Kara said...

I love Jane Austen! And Persuasion is my favorite also. Such a wonderful story. And I also agree that the Letter definitely helps my love of the story. I think I swoon a little every time I read it! :)

Sarah said...

I do love that Persuasion starts with two people already in love and they have to kind of struggle to figure out if and how they can be together. It definitely ups the romance factor.

I also like that Austen does a different romantic scenario in each book. It keeps her stories from being dull.

Brona said...

I've always struggled with Mansfield Park too.
Jane Austen is like a big sister - someone to turn to for comfort, humour and wise words :-)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kara - It's one of my favorite sections in all of literature. So beautiful and delivered at the perfect time.

Sarah - Yes, each story is completely unique. She wasn't a formulaic writer.

Brona Joy - Jane Austen as a big sister, I love that!

Elisabeth said...

I've always loved Austen! My favorite is also Persuasion. Your description is spot on. My second favorite is Northanger Abbey because I have a *slight* obsession with Gothic novels and she does so well poking fun at them. Mansfield Park is the only one of her novels that I've not read, but the film adaptations that I've seen are just...eugh. Hopefully I'll like it when I read it, but if I don't, I guess that's okay.

I love your blog!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Elisabeth - You should join us when we read Mansfield Park in June!

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