Thursday, October 15, 2015

On Reading Jane Austen

I should not read Jane Austen.

Traveling back from an out of state business visit, I had the opportunity to read Persuasion.  I had only read Sense and Sensibility and seen screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma.

I should not read Jane Austen.

Jane Austen fires one with a sense of the romantic and the glorious.  To read her is to be pulled breathlessly into a world of morals and manners, of loves unspoken and then at the end realized, of sacrifice and ultimate triumph.

I include a passage from Persuasion in which the main male protagonist, Captain Wentworth, has written a letter to Miss Anne Elliott:

"I can listen no longer in silence.  I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach.  You pierce my soul.  I am half agony, half hope.  Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever.  I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own, than when you broke it eight and a half years ago.  Dare not say man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death.  I have loved but you.  Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath.  For you alone, I think and plan - Have you not seen this?  Can you fail to understand my wishes?  I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings as I think you have penetrated mine.  I can hardly write.  I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me.   You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice, when they would be lost to others - Too good, too excellent creature!.  You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men.  Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating in

F W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate, but I shall return hither, or follow your party as soon as possible.  A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's home this evening, or never."

Does the romance and love not drip off the page?  And in the context of the book (which I highly recommend) does this not come at the climax, a love delayed but not denied?

And then I ask the question "Why is life not actually like this?"

I should not read Jane Austen.

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