A Jane Austen Education

Monday, May 16, 2011

Austen scholar William Deresiewicz reveals the remarkable life lessons hidden within Jane Austen's work. In A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter, he tells how Austen's devotion to the everyday, and her belief in the value of ordinary lives, can teach us important lessons about friendship and feeling, staying young and being good, and, of course, love.


William Deresiewicz

Comments [6]

stella from UK

If you want to know or share with others about Jane Austen and your love for her works then look no further direct from Bath, England The Jane Austen Centre and its forum

Aug. 20 2011 02:14 PM
Barbara from Manhattan

My most vivid fantasy is that a 7th JA novel has been discovered. I re-read them frequently and in fact very much enjoy Northanger Abbey too.

Actually, her work ruined me for living. I started reading Austen at 12 and assumed real life would be like an Austen novel.

I think Elizabeth Bennet was probably quite attractive, though not a beauty like Jane. Somewhere near the beginning, perhaps at an evening at the Lucases, Darcy calls her pretty -- this is before he really falls for her.

May. 16 2011 08:08 PM
Joyce Mullan from New Jersey

As a life long Austen fan since my Dad gave me a copy of Pride and Prejudice when I was in 5th grade-40 years ago, I completely agree with Auden's assessment that she was as 'shrewd as the grass'. She also successfully mirrors the tensions that arose when the middle classes started marrying into the aristocracy in the 19th century. Though I love Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, it is Persuasion that I admire the most. She has a great line in that story where her character Anne Elliott is talking with her cousin about why she doesn't want to socialize with their pretentious but stupid titled relations. She says: "My idea of good the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.' 'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company, that is the best." She accurately displays there a new conception of (true) aristocracy, (also mirrored in Democratic Athens) that it isn't what class you are born into, or who your family is, it is an openness and interest in the world and all the people in it, and unfailing kindness to everyone including broken down poor old friends. (So, Anne preferred the company of her old school friend).

Joyce Mullan

May. 16 2011 01:37 PM
Maude from Park Slope

I'm going to guess Austen was so good at "reading" people because women were forced to be observers in her society.

Personally I still feel women might be a bit more insightful about human behavior because men like to talk so much.

May. 16 2011 01:18 PM
Jack from Central New Jersey

My wife (an ABD in English Lit.) likes to think of the Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels as the male side of the story of the Austen novels....

May. 16 2011 01:15 PM

Ask him about the slave trade mentioned in Mansfield Park.

May. 16 2011 01:13 PM

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