Tuesday, August 25, 2009

One Assignment Down....

I finished the first assignment for my "Reading for Writers" course this semester: Read "Emma" by Jane Austen and write a review of it. I'd never read any Austen before, but I'd heard some good things about her.

However, I must have chosen the wrong Jane Austen novel to read, because I really didn't enjoy it. I found the main character to be a classist snob and even though I know Austen did that on purpose in order to comment on classism, I'm of the mind that if your protagonist isn't in some way sympathetic, you're going to lose the reader.

Overall I understood and appreciated Austen's themes, but the plot was predictable, the language was stuffy and difficult to wade through, and Austen had an obsessive preoccupation with the semi-colon that I found distracting.

I thought maybe one of the half dozen movies based on the book would be more entertaining so I watched the version with Gwenyth Paltrow - no more entertaining than the book.

My conclusion? You either really like Jane Austen or you really don't. So far, I really don't.

I also read the second book on the list for "Reading for Writers" which was "No Country for Old Men." This book I liked much, much better. I'll comment here on that book (and the movie) after I finish and turn in the paper later this week.

In the meantime, are there any ardent Jane Austen defenders out there? Anybody actually enjoy the book "Emma?"


Helena Halme said...

Please don't give up on Austen just yet. You must first read Pride and Prejudice. Pretty please!

Tony Noland said...

I didn't like Emma very much (the book or the character). I second Helena, though, Pride and Prejudice is definitely a must read. It's one of my favorites.

Embee said...

Helena and Tony - So apparently I did choose the wrong Austen novel to start with! If I ever have time to read for pleasure again, I'll try Pride and Prejudice. Thanks!

Little Ms Blogger said...

Sad to say, never read of her books and if I have, don't remember.

Christine Claire Reed said...

oh, dear, Jane Austen is the QUEEN!

First, like all great literature, she must be read in context. SO important.

Second, she really is some of THE ORIGINAL chick lit.

Third, she was daring -- daring to write about the intimate lives of women which were not considered "important" enough for literature at all!

Fourth, her witty banter was written naturally, which was also rare at the time.

I could go on and on...

But again, she must be taken in context.

I adore the movies, too, I must say. You should watch the "updated" version with Alicia Silverstone -- Clueless. VERY funny adaptation.

alana said...

I felt the same way when I read Persuasion. I was like, this is what all the fuss is about? I almsot gave up entirely, but then I read Pride and Prejudice and I really enjoyed it. It even made the movie a lot more interesting afterwards too. So I'd say give it a shot, but everything else...meh.

Terresa said...

Brilliant, bold post. While most people I know only sing the praises of Austen, you just put it out there. I especially liked your phrase, "Austen had an obsessive preoccupation with the semi-colon that I found distracting." Lovely!