Persuasion by Jane Austen
I’m really going to miss my Jane Austen class, I’ve got to say–although I’m certainly looking forward to my young adult and children’s literature class next semester. (Why yes, my school is awesome.) While even I, chin deep in mass paperback fantasy, had heard of Mansfield Park, I had never heard of Persuasion. My only acquaintance with it was encountering the DVD of the film adaptation while poking through my local Blockbuster, trying to find a copy of Star Wars Lucas hasn’t messed with. (A Herculean task, I assure you–ancient VHS tapes are my only recourse, but I digress.) Still, it was a calming 250 pages compared to Emma, and I picked it up with relief.
Emma by Jane Austen
I first read Emma for my high school’s book club a couple years ago. It was my very first Jane Austen and I loathed it. I didn’t like Emma as a character, and the age gap between Emma and Mr. Knightley freaked me out. I kept that opinion well into this year, bemoaning the fact that I would have to reread Emma for class. But when I picked it up again, I was pleasantly surprised–something was different. I don’t know if it was me or the fact that I was reading it academically, but I really enjoyed it.
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Ah, Fanny Price. An Austen heroine so unpopular (well, comparatively) that Mansfield Park wasn’t even on clearance when my childhood Barnes & Noble closed up shop over the summer and that the recent film adaptation had to make her half-Jane Austen to make her appealing. She’s a difficult character, and Mansfield Park is a difficult novel. While I’m going to share my usual feelings with you, I’ll also discuss the novel a bit more academically–because whining about how much I don’t like Fanny or how, no matter how acceptable it was at the time, incest still skeeves me out isn’t going to be very interesting at all.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Of all the Austen novels, Northanger Abbey is the novel I knew the least about. In popular culture, it tends only to pop up as part of Austen’s oeuvre, and it’s the lone Austen novel that has not received a motion picture adaptation. (Okay, technically, Persuasion suffered the same fate, being a BBC television adaptation, but it was released theatrically here.) The only thing I really knew was that it was the first novel Austen started (Sense and Sensibility was the first she completed). With no preconceptions or, really, expectations, I picked up Northanger Abbey for class.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
This semester, I’m taking a class on Jane Austen. It’s absolutely fascinating–not only do we get to sit around and suck the very marrow out of stories, one of my favorite activities, but there’s a focus on placing Austen squarely in her historical context. Of course, for the class, we have to read her entire canon; the way it’s structured, we’re usually reading one novel while discussing another. So before the year is out, I will have read and reviewed all of Austen’s novels (but not Love and Freindship, as picking on little girls is mean). We’re already read Pride and Prejudice this semester, so I’ve just finished Sense and Sensibility.