Though I'm sure Jane herself would be mortified beyond words (a shame, as she had such a way with them) to be on par with Jesus, I couldn't help but giggle when I thought of that title. 'Tis the season for it, after all. And I am in the midst of reading a spin-off of my very favorite Miss Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice. I'm one of those who read books again and again. I can't tell you how many times I've read P&P, Sense and Sensibility, and her other fabulous novels. It's amazing to me that in a world where we struggle to publish even one novel, with no guarantee of establishing either a name or reputation, Jane was able to publish six pieces of classic literature. Yes, there are many more potential authoresses out there in this century, but for her to achieve what she did, even partially posthumously, with the obstacles she overcame, I cannot help but admire the hell out of Miss Austen.
I have Jane on the brain, you might say. I visited the Jane Austen museum in Bath when I was in England three years ago. I was devastated when I could not fit the Jane Austen seminar class into my schedule this semester. I just watched Becoming Jane, the movie about Miss Austen, starring Anne Hathaway, on Netflix the other day (and yes, I watched it at work... sssshhh...). I read a very fun book in May on the train from Edinburgh to Wakefield, a "diary" written by Jane, while I was visiting my friend on the occasion of her wedding (English weddings are different, and yet similar, to American). And my friend's mother very kindly purchased me a contemporary novel about a bookstore owner who goes on a Jane Austen tour and ends up head over teakettle in love with an Englishman, all the while strangely courted by THE Mr Darcy (which I read on the train to Edinburgh, and thoroughly enjoyed, despite being seated in a backward facing seat). I have both versions of Pride and Prejudice on DVD - and vastly prefer the BBC version, thank you Colin Firth - as well as Sense and Sensibility, starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, Emma, and Mansfield Park. And yes, I will watch them. Frequently.
I won a membership in the Jane Austen Society of North America-you didn't even know there was such a thing, did you?-this summer, and this weekend, I will be modeling Regency Era clothing during the December meeting of JASNA-NY. Which, incidently, is an afternoon tea in honor of Miss Austen's 233 birthday. So, given my own very extreme...regard (I hesitate to say obsession) for Miss Austen as a genius of word usage, I wonder... What would she think of all this hoopla? She published anonymously while living, never truly knowing the extent of her fame. Several of her manuscripts were published posthumously, so she never even received remuneration for her toils. She lived in a society where her audacity in endeavoring to be an authoress was often met with scorn and ridicule. Yet, her words have spawned a legacy of movies, novels continuing her characters' lives, societies who revere her, and even action figures (not kidding, people, I have one). She is a cult figure, she has been so for nearly two centuries, and may continue to be so. For that is the value in her words, is it not?
Do we not aspire to something similar in our own journey as authors? To have our words read by a few, and possibly a few thousand, or more. To spin tales of good people who come to good ends. To have the chance to blog about someone we admire, all the while connecting that admiration to our everyday lives. No, I don't wear empire waisted dresses with caps everyday, but I will on Sunday. And I'll take pictures, never you fear. I'll even post them on my MySpace page (http://myspace.com/carahart71), so stop by next week to see them. And maybe I can use my experiences in my novels...
Because isn't that really what Jane would do?
Be yourself and Happy Holidays,
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