It happens every time. The guy asks what I am reading. I say Jane Austen. He cringes and cries out that her books are only about “women wanting to find rich husbands.”
Okay, and the Old Man in the Sea is about a hungry old guy.
I don’t understand why books about men’s lives become a discourse on society, while books about women’s lives can be passed off as “women’s issues.”
Simons will say that Jane should be eaten by a shark, which is typical because while works by men and centered on men delight in glorified yet gory deaths, Jane is “unfortunate” enough to focus on women who stay alive and try to reach some potential.
The other complaint is that Jane is boring. I take this merely to mean she uses big words like “supposition,” “acquaintance” and “England.” But her subject matter is no different from modern problems. For example:
“What do you think of him? Do you think him very plain?”
“He is very plain, undoubtedly; remarkably plain: but that is nothing compared with his entire want of gentility.”
“To be sure … he is not so genteel as real gentlemen.”
“The older a person grows, the more important it is that their manners should not be bad; the more glaring and disgusting any loudness or coarseness, or awkwardness becomes.”
Translated into modern slang it would say:
“What do you think of the guy I hooked up with?”
“He looks like ass and could he be more disgusting?”
“So he names his spit, so what?”
“That was so ninth grade!”
What could be more contemporary? More understandable?
So read Jane, and enjoy. Or better yet, reread and appreciate.
Sarah Healy is the campus editor and does not have enough space to do Austen any justice. Call 893-2691 and she’ll argue with you too.