Jane Austen – Self Improvement Guru?

Jane Austen, English author who lived over the junction of the 18th/19th centuries. She wrote about English society around the turn of the, er, 18th/19th centuries.

Her books were filled with lots of lost love, dutiful requirements of men but more so the women, lots of forelorn gazes into the rain. No, we’re not talking about my own love life here, blimey if it’s comedy you want I suggest Laurel & Hardy…

Pride & Prejudice is probably her best known novel, and it sums up her style – people’s natural personalities and desires being crushed but not extinguished by the accepted responsibilities of the day. The fact that the personalities are not totally dead is crucial, as they come to the fore at the end, and self expression triumphs into happiness.

You can probably see where I’m going with this…

I saw a great dramatization of her book ‘Persuasion’ recently. It was done very nicely, with some modern tv touches thrown in, but not too many, just to add a reality feel here and there. In fact a lot of these types of books are being worked on tv with a totally modern surrounding, and they work even better to put across the message that it’s best to follow your passions, express you true self, and you’ll be happy.

You don’t suddenly achieve a goal of being happy, it’s not a finish line you cross, its a state of mind a lifestyle. It seems ludicrous that so many people choose to stifle it, often based on no more than what other people tell them – usually other people who are only too happy to express *themselves*!

Yes, be aware of responsibilities, but do not neglect the responsibilities you have to yourself! The acceptance of happiness being unattainable was perhaps more understandable in Jane Austen’s time, but we’re 200 years further down the road!

Jane Austen died at 41, the same age as I am as I write this. She wasn’t universally popular – Charlotte Bronte said Austen failed to write about passion. I can’t agree with that, I think passion is exactly what she does write about!

Mark Twain said that any library was a good library if it didn’t have a Jane Austen in it, even if it had no other books! That’s harsh, wrong in my view, and not one of your finer quotes Twainy.

I think a good library *should* have a Jane Austen in it, maybe even under the ‘self improvement’ section?



Source by Gordon Bryan