06 August 2010

Aren't Miss Austen's novels enough?

Is it a bad thing that I really don't care about Miss Austen's letters or read her biographies, of which there must be many? I love her novels, but I don't care to make a pilgrimage Chawton or Bath just because of Miss Austen.  I'm just not sure I need more than her books to get a sense of who she is (was). And does it matter all that much? Do I need to know her to understand her work? I just don't think so. I know next to nothing about Charlotte Bronte, excepting she had a couple of writing sisters (one of whom wrote Wuthering Heights - hated it), but reading Jane Eyre gives me an idea of who Miss Bronte was, not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, since I would love the book even if had been written by a space alien from a Dr. Who episode (even the Ood).
Okay, I know Miss Austen was the daughter of a minister and her best friend was her sister Cassandra; it's quite possible she'd been tossed in love (who hasn't been?), but can that place too much impact on her stories that we start to read things into her works that aren't really there? She's so creative and her characters resonate as real people. Do we need to think that whomever broke her heart is translated into Willoughby or Wickham? I'd prefer not to.
Miss Austen said that Emma was a character no one would like but herself and I find I can't stand Emma for the vast majority of the book. Am I reading into the work Miss Austen's comment? Or ... is Emma just annoying on her own without commentary from Miss Austen. Hell, I never watched Becoming Jane because I thought it unnecessary. Maybe that's it. The novels stand alone, the rest, lovely trivia though it is, is quite unnecessary.


  1. You and I think alike. I have read a couple of bios about Jane Austen, but I don't think they capture the essence of the woman who wrote those wonderful novels. Other than talking to the author herself, only a conversation with Cassandra could do that. I didn't like Wuthering Heights either. Sometimes when I write these things, I feel like I'm at an inquisition, confessing all my dark secrets. Not like Emily Bronte? Off with her head. Never understood what Knightley saw in Emma? You are shallow. I certainly understand why others want to know more about Jane Austen, but I'm pretty happy just reading her work.

  2. I'm glad to see it's not just me. You can tell from other posts of my that Emma is a character I really just don't care for either.
    Guess what? I've never read To Kill a Mockingbird - and I don't really care. So shoot me.


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