I recently got a note on Facebook from a friend of the family. “You’ll be so proud!” it said. “I just read my first Pride and Prejudice!”
We get a lot of this sort of thing, we Austen bloggers.
And the thing is, mostly, that we are proud. But then, proud is also a misnomer. What we are is pleased—for ourselves, and for the first-timers. For our part, we get new Austen pals with whom to discuss and enjoy! And—not that we’d ever bring this up, being of fine breeding and proper training—we’ve been proven right! People like what we like, and that’s always nice, not to mention a sign of excellent judgment on their parts. OBVIOUSLY.
But we’re even more excited for them. What could be better than seeing Lizzy and Darcy (or Emma and Knightley, or Elinor and Edward, or Anne and her Captain) with fresh eyes? It’s an accomplishment, yes, but it’s also a kind of engagement; especially in a literary and pop-culture landscape that embraces primarily the very new, there’s a sense that discovering the Austen universe is a bit like discovering that old things can be funny, and sharp, and hit romantic notes that we somehow expect them not to know about. (Jane’s humor is, I think, the most surprising thing to new readers. They just seem so shocked! Wry humor: not invented by Mark Twain, or so we hear.) From that first page, there’s so much to enjoy, and I, for one, just want to hear about it.
And so, if you’re just reading your first Pride and Prejudice—or Emma, or Sense and Sensibility, or (let’s be brave) Northanger Abbey—do an Austenite near you. (Or not near you. We’re on Facebook! HINT HINT.) You just might make her day, as long as you’re also making your own.Anne Elliot, Captain Wentworth, Elizabeth Bennet, Emma, Emma Woodhouse, first-timers, Jane Austen, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Knightley, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 · No Comments »