Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lectio: Jane Austen

{recommended reading}

Way before chick flicks, Jane Austen was such a boss.  Mistaken intentions, scales falling from eyes, true love, and happy endings...it's all there in Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion.


The best thing about these classics, though, isn't just that they're romantic in a fairy-tale way.  They're romantic in such an honest way.  The young men and women in her novels aren't perfect, just sitting there waiting for the one, but are works in progress.  They sometimes lose their tempers, cast misjudgments, and aren't always brave enough to put their hearts out there.  In other words, they're real.

A few years ago, I wrote my senior thesis on the notion Jane's novels show that virtue is a requirement, not an option, for authentic love and friendship.  Do you agree?  Things like infatuation, pride, and injustice can be huge roadblocks to loving and being loved.  Self-knowledge, I think, along with the pursuit of virtue and holiness, are so key in becoming vulnerable and letting love refine us.  So, though it might be rare that fiction can help you prepare for marriage, I can't think of better bedtime reading for any bride!

Are you a big a Jane fan as I am?  What's your favorite?


12 comments:

  1. Love Jane too! Northanger Abbey and Pride & Prejudice are my favorites :)

    Happy New Year!

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    1. You know, I'm a Pride and Prejudice girl, myself. I figure it's almost everyone's favorite for a reason! Happy New Year to you, too =)

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  2. Love Jane! My favorite is probably Emma.... I agree with you about virtue. When we live an ethos of vice, those passions are self-centred. It seems to me quite impossible to live in a way that centers on "me" and also be attentive to someone else. Virtue helps us to make a gift of self to the other, to honor the dignity and authenticity of the other. Jane Austen had it right for sure - it's not easy, but it's worth it/

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    1. You're so right, Christine. I love that these books can be read in such a way that goes beyond a typical girly, happy-ending type thing. As I've revisited a few of them since my high school days, I've found that my ideas of love and romance have changed so much for the better.

      I admit, I've only partially read Emma...it's on my list for 2013 to read all 6 novels!

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  3. I think for me it's a toss-up b/w Emma and P&P. :)

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    1. Love me some P&P. I can't wait to revisit Emma, and actually finish it this time!

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  4. Jane Eyre! It was my first Jane Austen novel and I've fallen in love with the era since.

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    1. Yes, so good! If I'm right, Jane Eyre is by one of the Bronte sisters? I adore whichever one of them wrote that one, but (forgive me, I realize this is an affront to lovers of this literary era) don't care too much for Wuthering Heights by her sister =) Thanks for reading!

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  5. Pride and Prejudice gets my vote! And I agree with your assessment of virtue. The women are looking for virtuous men while the men are looking for well-bred women, only to find that themselves reluctantly falling for the virtuous ones instead. Does that make sense? Wow, you made me put my thinking cap on today. ;-)

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    1. Yes, that absolutely makes sense! Thanks for your thoughts! I think another aspect of virtue in these books is that neither the men or women are entirely virtuous at the beginning (or even at the end, I suppose, since growth should be such a constant thing), but as they make mistakes or fall in love, they cultivate things like prudence, humility, constancy, and the like.

      So glad you stopped by!

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  6. Persuasion is my favorite! And as soon as you are done reading all six, read Amy Elizabeth Smith's 2012 book A Year With Austen! She is an English professor who took Austen to South America and did book clubs with her -- amazing, amazing, amazing!

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    1. I love Persuasion, too! The first time I read it was for a philosophy class, which was what got me on this whole Austen virtue kick to begin with. Thanks for the Year With Austen recommendation!

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