A portrait of Jane Austen drawn by her sister. (1810)
One of my favorite authors is Jane Austen. Even though her novels were written about two hundred years ago and are about a society and way of life that doesn’t fully exist anymore, her way of characterizing people’s personalities, quirks, and relationships is timeless. While some might find the prose a little elevated, Austen’s commentary on people’s vanity and the human condition (that is, having to live and love within the rules and confines of society) is on point, and occasionally even deliciously disdainful. More often than not, I find myself smiling at the speeches and follies of the characters that people Austen’s novels, and thinking about people I know from modern times who remind me of them. Sometimes I even catch myself laughing out loud!
My favorite Austen novels are Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park. The heroine of the latter is usually panned as an annoyingly prim and proper spoilsport, but somehow there is an appeal to the setting of the novel, and to the real struggle of the main character to maintain goodness and morality while having to bear poverty, loss, and snubbing. If you like English literature, why not try to read some Jane Austen, or at least a graded reader of some of her stories? I highly recommend them! Right now I am reading Pride & Prejudice for the second time, and have found it a surprisingly fresh and piquant page-turner.