Classics Club Meme Question

Monday, April 7, 2014

Contemplate your favorite classic to date. When was this book written? Why would you say it has been preserved by the ages? Do you think it will still be respected/treasured 100 years from now? If it had been written in our own era, would it be as well received?

It’s almost impossible to pick a “favorite” classic, so I’m just going to pick one of many. Persuasion by Jane Austen was published in 1818. I think Austen’s fame from her other works (especially Pride and Prejudice) has preserved her less popular works, including Persuasion. I hope that her work will still be popular in 100 years, because the themes she deals with are timeless.

I think that if it was written today a lot of people would dismiss it as “chick lit.” It deals with a woman and a romance and some publisher would probably slap and stupid pink cover on it with flowers or something. But there’s so much more to the story! Anne Elliot caves to family pressure and refuses to marry the man she’s in love with. Eight years go by and her path crosses with her old flame once again. There is obviously a beautifully slow-burning romance in the book, but for me Anne’s story is much more important.

Throughout the plot she learns how to stand up for herself and form her own opinions. She refuses to be cowed into cancelling a meeting with a close friend that her family sees as “beneath her.” She doesn’t fall for the shallow Mr. Elliot’s attempts to woo her. She is loyal and kind and incredibly observant. In one scene she discusses the depth of feelings that women have vs. men with Captain James Benwick, a man grieving the death of the woman he loves. That scene shows us more about Anne’s true feelings than any other in the book.

I think that Anne’s age should also be considered when thinking about when it was written. In the book she is 27, which was considered old for an unmarried woman at the time. She knows that the odds she will ever marry are very limited, which means she is dependent on her relatives and so the fact that she stands up against them is even more impressive. She had very few options at that point and yet she stood up for herself.
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Anonymous said...

Oh, I love Persuasion! P&P is my sentimental favorite book, but Persuasion is probably Austen's best novel. I also really loved the 1995 film version. Anne is such a quietly strong character throughout the book, and seeing her realize her inner strength and become vocal about is empowering for women everywhere.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

abibliophilesstyle - P&P was my first Austen, so it has a special place in my heart, but I love Persuasion even more!

Cleo said...

I keep hearing how wonderful Persuasion is! It's the only Austen I haven't read yet. I kept putting it off because I didn't like the movie (with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root. I thought she was an awful Anne) but with such glowing recommendations, it appears I've missed a treasure. Thanks for the inspiration, Melissa!

Suey said...

My book club has picked Persuasion to read this year. So I'll be re-reading it again for the... I think 3rd or 4th time. Anyway, like P and P, I'm starting to loss track! Ah, in general, my classics reading is suffering so bad! It seems like I just keep re-reading stuff! We're planning a North and South read along in the fall, and yeah, that will be my 3rd time with that book! LOL.

Jillian said...

It is really interesting that you say that people would dismiss it as 'chick lit,' based simply off its synopsis (and maybe even the cover). It really shows that we really can't judge a book by our first impression.
Persuasion didn't speak to me as much as P&P and even Emma did, but I definitely loved the whole standing up to your elders and family thing.

Anonymous said...

I love Persuasion! It's definitely one of my favourite Austen novels. I definitely agree with what you said about the timelessness of the themes; as with most of Austen's writing, the issues characters face still feel relatable today.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Persuasion is the only Jane Austen book I don't own and it's probably the one I'm most curious about! I really should try to pick up a copy.

I have wondered about these books, if written today, would they be considered chick lit? I think probably more women's lit.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Cleopatra - Hmm, I wonder if you'll like it if you didn't like the movie. It stayed relatively close to the book.

Suey - I'm so excited you guys are reading Persusion in your book club. I'm also ashamed to say I've never read North and South, but it's on my Classics Club list!

Jillian - I love each of Austen's novels for such different reasons. I love Persuasion because it was about learning what you truly want, not just infatuation, and then being willing to fight for it.

majoringinliterature - So true, which is why the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved work so well!

Trish - I don't know, what's the difference between chick lit and women's lit? Why is women's lit a thing? There's no such thing as guys lit, right?