The person, be it gentleman or lady,
who has not pleasure in a good novel,
must be intolerably stupid.
A witty woman to inspire snark for the ages, Jane Austen, wasn’t one to be quiet about her opinions (of which she had many). 2017 has become the year to celebrate the life of Austen, as this week marks 200 years since her untimely death. Following the onset of a swift moving illness, she died at the young age of 41, on July 18th, 1817. In her short time, she was able to complete six novels (two of which were published posthumously), and inspire generations of feminists and lovers of classic literature, with a flare for ‘Romantic-Dramedy.’
During her lifetime she published anonymously, so as to avoid scrutiny. Her books chronicled the late 18th century lives of the British Landed gentry, as well as those seeking to attain higher status among their peers. Of course, the most pertinent way to raise your station, and your families, is through having an advantageous marriage. Austen’s heroines were attempting just this, though their perspective on the matters, Austen shed light on the convoluted inner workings of society. Her social commentary challenged the norm, empowered women and broached controversial topics with comedy and defiance. She was fortunate to experience some success in her lifetime, and her books were republished as a set, posthumously, in 1833, growing her audience in size and gaining more traction for her works. A manuscript she left unfinished was also completed and published in 1925 as Sanditon. Diana Parker, the heroine of this book, was described as “an energetic invalid”- possibly mirroring the situation she found herself in at the end of her life.
Jane Austen is one of the most revered writers. Her narratives living on highlighting timeless issues we can still relate to today. There have been countless adaptations of Austen’s stories, including sequels, prequels and re-imaginings. The BBC released a Pride and Prejudice mini series (which is a fan favorite, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth) which inspired author Helen Fielding to write Bridget Jones’s Diary – chronicling her “will they/won’t they” with her very own Mr. Darcy (played by Colin Firth, reimagining his original Darcy). There is no shortage of ways to share your love with the community of Janeites around the world. There are festivals all over – from London to Louisville- and communities of people who create and dress in “Regency” garb to commemorate and celebrate a beautiful and complicated time in history. More on these superfans can be seen on the BBC One Documentary “My Friend Jane”, streaming now!
This week the UK is commemorating Jane Austen with the launch of a new £10 note into circulation, featuring her likeness. In the vein of Austen’s flare for drama- there is some controversy over the image; scholars and fans are upset at the airbrush quality of the image, and the large estate featured in the background,of which she could never have afforded in her lifetime. Nevertheless, her image is circulating and inspiring lovers of literature to pay homage to the woman who spent her life following her passion for writing, regardless of the sacrifices that lay in its wake.
If you have not yet forayed into the world of Jane Austen, this is the perfect year to give her a try. Pick up a copy of Pride and Prejudice, and channel wit and irony as you take a trip in the time machine to 18th century England. To paraphrase Austen herself – take pleasure in a good novel, or, well…you know how she feels.
Originally published on GoRead.com
Morgan Messick is a Pop-Culture fanatic, Podcast Host, Booktuber & total #BookBabe living in Austin, TX with her Husband and two dogs — Scoop & Eleanor. She aspires to grow her #TBR pile, do all of the hiking, travel as often as possible and make a joke at every turn. She utilizes laughter and yoga for daily medicine, thinks that Harry Potter is magic for all ages, and truly believes Die Hard is a great Christmas movie (SO DEAL WITH IT.)
Catch her musings here, and around the web — links in the “about” page!