OTish: Up the Flag for Jane Austen :)

alexandra.bolintineanu at utoronto.ca alexandra.bolintineanu at utoronto.ca
Mon Jun 4 16:49:33 EDT 2001

I agree altogether that Some Books Are Not For Some Readers at the Time
when First Introduced to Same Readers.  I read P&P when I was sixteen
and yawned my way through it.  I tried Emma and literally fell asleep
during Chapter 1.  

I remember quite distinctly what triggered my liking for Jane Austen.  In
the letters of C.S. Lewis (whom I dearly respect), he mentioned JA's books
as good reading for convalescents.  This lay in the back of my mind while
I sat through an English class in which somebody talked about this
*terrible* Canadian writer whose characters were all violently psychotic,
who cut off their small siblings' fingers by way of childish epiphanies  
and set themselves on fire in sheds as the grand finale.  Bleaaargh.
After an hour of this I felt distinctly convalescent.  So I went to the
library to take my medicine.  The only JA book I found was Mansfield Park,
my least favourite of the lot--and something clicked, and I was instantly
hooked.  I've read most of her books since, over and over and over, and
loved them.  I think Persuasion is my favourite. 

(an unrepentant Janeite)

 On Mon, 4 Jun 2001, Hallie O'Donovan wrote:

> Philip:
> >What it really came down to, in my case, was that Some Authors Are 
> >Not For Some
> >Readers.  Like Ven, I don't like Jane Austen.  Her books may be 
> >wonderful, as my
> >mother - and Hallie, who persuaded me to try one - insist.
> Oh dear.  I'm being outed!  Not as a Janeite - even back in the bad 
> days of my Awful Boyfriend the Joycean English Major I didn't hide 
> being an avid Austen fan (This is an obDWJ ref. here folks.  The AB 
> as recurring character in DWJ came up for discussion ages ago. 
> Elise's beat mine, iirc by being named Julian. :)).  But appearing to 
> be a *fanatic* must be A Bad Thing.
> FWIW, I am well aware that All Authors Are Not etc.- either version 
> will do.  And I hope I didn't appear to be arguing against your 
> reaction to JA, Ven.   Had you said you read Persuasion and found it 
> boring, or dreary, or moralistic, I wouldn't even have blinked. 
> Well, maybe that's not quite true, but I wouldn't have insisted the 
> book was wonderful because I find it wonderful. No, really!
> It's somewhat as if a friend had told you she hated DWJ because she'd 
> read F&H and  having been told that Polly was pretty much DWJ 
> herself, felt that Polly was hateful as she was just rottenly 
> unsympathetic to Ivy.  That Ivy, having been cheated on by her 
> husband would of course have deserved much more understanding.  With 
> all the been-there-done-that-got-the-scars-to-prove-it fellow feeling 
> in the world, I'd still feel that this view of Ivy and Polly just 
> isn't derivable from F&H.  Again, if this friend said she didn't like 
> F&H, or found it too confusing, or didn't like Polly, I'd be sad but 
> unsurprised.
> I really am well and truly aware of the fact that my reactions to 
> books and characters therein are not necessarily going to bear any 
> close approximation to the reactions of others.  Becca is pretty much 
> the only exception - we have almost frighteningly similar reactions 
> to books we read - almost frightening for two - em - rather 
> opinionated people that is!  I am currently trying to get my mother 
> to read Bellwether.  Becca said we'll just have to get out our 
> friendly neighbourhood Hit-Man if she makes too many snitty remarks. 
> :)
> Hallie.
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