Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lost In Austen

Tonight Lost In Austen was replayed on Ovation Network.It made me wonder "Do we get lost in Austen or does Austen get lost on us?

We have paired Austen with vampires and zombies. Written sequels to Pride and PRejudce that are saccharine sweet, sultry, or just plain ridiculous (Darcy and Bingley getting it on? Lizzie in love with Charlotte?) We created a romance between Jane and Tom LeFroy because we wanted the woman who wrote great romances to have a great romance herself. But have we lost sight of the real Austen?

I once heard an English professor claim Gatsby from Fitzgerald's classic was gay because he wore a pink suit. I've always hated it when people push 21st century ideas and ideals onto people and books that were of another time. I think we might be doing this to my Regency counterpart and I'll admit that I might be part of the problem.

JA worship runs high, fast and strong, which is part of the problem. People like me not only blog about JA we buy books that relate to her and since have made JA a cash cow. So publishers will print any sort of muckity muck because it will inevitably sell.

Part of this means that we don't read JA anymore. Not the original. Instead we read her with ultraviolent zombie action or read about her characters who have actually lost a bit of themselves. Joan Aiken writes that Lizzie once knew Charlotte in the book Lady Catherine's Necklace. She suggests that they were mere acquaintances and not the close friends that JA had made them in her original book. Another author said Darcy would never friend anyone who was in trade or even slightly removed. Well JA hints that Bingley's wealth comes from trade.

So I think Austen has been lost on us. I think we watch the movies instead of read the books and while I thoroughly enjoy some of the movies it's a shame because Austen was a great writer. She created characters one loves and while there was drama in her novels it is not like the drama people create now. Drama is not rape and murder. It's your sister ruining your family name by eloping. It's the loss of a father and as such the loss of a promised life (entails etc). It is losing the love of your life because he's secretly engaged. In today's standard not drama at all. That's what I love best about JA. They're stories about people....real people and not this jacked up idea of drama and fiction we have today.

So while I wish the world truly was lost in Austen, I fear Austen has been lost on us.


  1. I haven't read many sequels nor Austen based fiction but the little I read was not that bad. No zombies, nor monsters. Those, I'll never read, promised. Anyhow, I always prefer the original. Though ... I didn't mind Becoming Jane or Lost in Austen. Will you forgive me?

  2. Maria, nothing to forgive. As I mentioned I probably help the hype and I will openly admit to buying the sequels and reading them. After all isn't that what the entire blog is about. It's not that I mind the sequels at all. Some of them are quite enjoyable (look for my post on the Emma Hox book), but the point I was trying to get across was people aren't reading Austen anymore and maybe they should.

  3. As an avid fan of all Jane Austen books, not notably Pride and Prejudice I must say that I agree with you. I also am a culprit of devouring everything Jane Austen... and anyone else willing to write a book or make a movie.

    Except I can not bring myself to read vampires, zombies or sea monsters no matter how much anyone begs me to.

    I do however make it a point to read at least two jane Austen books each year. I generally read pride and prejudice every year and add on at least one other, although I admit to having the complete works sitting next to my bed (at all times) and frequently just opening the book, closing my eyes and placing my finger on a spot to start reading.

    Thank you for the reminder to never forget the root of our passions for great literature.

    PS... Blog-hopping today I found your blog and enjoyed the posts I read. I simply must comment on this one though because I would love to read your post about Emma Hox's book but cannot for the life of me find it. Please help me, I would love to hear your opinion about the novel.

  4. Emma,
    I had not posted about your book yet, but just did. I thoroughly enjoyed it.