Jane Austen


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.Jane Austen

I owe so much to Jane Austen. When I read Pride And Prejudice for the first time, I accepted the opening line as truth, not irony. Not a scathing commentary on Society, or people’s expectations, or any of that. I thought it was universally acknowledged, and it wasn’t after several re-readings that I got the humor; for me, at first, it was all about the love story.

On subsequent reads, I figured out some of what she was saying. I don’t think I’ll ever get all the subtlety and nuance, but Austen was my introduction to understated irony, something that is my stock-in-trade now, both in everyday speech and in my writing.

When I read Austen, I was transported to a land where the smart chick gets the hot guy, families are full of foibles and people spend time at balls in gowns that hide their legs.

I haven’t read Austen in years, perhaps because I read her SO MUCH when I was in young. I think I found her in my parents’ library when I was around 12, the perfect age for love and romance and a happy ending. Her dry wit, ability to distill the world into a small village and her characterization has informed me, imprinted me, in ways I cannot overstate.

In recent years, trying to find time to write, I continue to be impressed with her, writing in secret and actually finishing a book. I have my family’s support to write, and still find it hard. Plus, she didn’t have a computer and files to write into and easily change, which is astonishing. Her barrier to entry was so difficult, and yet she did it, which is an inspiration.

I have a card on my bureau I bought when in Portland, OR many years ago. “Success supposes endeavor,” it says, a quote from Austen’s Emma. I look at it regularly, every time things seem too hard for me to do, every time I wish things were easier. They’re not. Success supposes–and requires–endeavor.

And so I have to thank Austen for inspiring me to endeavor, as well as giving me a platform–writing romance–to endeavor in.

Thanks, Jane. Happy Birthday.

Megan

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Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

Here, here, Megan! Well said! I love that line.

And I have to admit the older I get the more I get out of rereading Jane Austen’s novels.

And I need to remember under what circumstances she wrote those novels when I have my moments of “I can’t do this.” or “Why am I doing this?”

I suspect my reasons are fairly close to hers. Because I must.

Kirsten
11 years ago

I think that I too was about 12 when I first read her and your right it isn’t till you’ve read her again a little later that you get to see so much more in her work. Her sense of humor and clever understanding of human nature is amazing and inspiring…

And is there a better opening line then the one from P&P? I think not.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

WONDERFUL blog, Megan!

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

What a lovely post, Megan! It’s funny–on days when i don’t feel like writing, I also tell myself “Hey, if Jane Austen could do it while huddled at her tiny table trying to be secret about writing, you can surely write in your own quiet, private house!” It makes me quit feeling sorry for myself and get to work 🙂

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