Saturday, June 25, 2011

Jane Austen?

Jane Austen? Yes, I am blogging about Jane Austen. How did this happen? Excellent question, I'm thinking about answering it.

A few days ago, I sent an e-mail to a friend mentioning that I was watching NASCAR Race Hub on the living room television set because Susan was in our bedroom watching a Harry Potter movie. I wrote something to the effect that I would rather be tied down and forced to watch a "chick flick"  than watch a Harry Potter movie. To my surprise, the reply e-mail suggested that if I found myself in that position, I should watch a Jane Austen movie. My friend also mentioned that there was a new book out by a guy writing about what he learned about life from Jane Austen.

What did I know about Jane Austen? Mercifully, in the advanced English classes that I took in high school, we didn't read Austen. We read some other crap, little of which I recall today. In the last 40 years I have read enough to know who Austen was and a little about her work.

I went to Amazon to find the book about Austen. I read a Q & A with the author, William Deresiewicz (You are right, I can't pronounce it). It was pretty interesting, so I bought the book.

The book's title is A Jane Austen Education; How six novels taught me about love, friendship, and the things that really matter.  That's a mouthful!! The author is a former associate professor at Yale.

So what can I learn from a Jewish guy from Brooklyn about a 19th Century British writer? It was a lot more than I had ever thought possible. The author's attitudes are way too close to mine. Many of his stories and the lessons learned from them hit close to home for me.  In my recent post, "If the World Ends Today", I wrote, "To almost all of the women I dated, I'm sorry!" This book may be an expanded version of that thought.

Deresiewicz wrote about a seminar where the professor asked a class of mostly guys about Daphne du Maurier's book Rebecca. The professor asked "Didn't you like it?" The Jewish guy from Brooklyn sounded like the Presbyterian from Ruffin in his response. He wrote: "I don't know " I said, always the first to volunteer my opinion. "I can't really relate to it. It's kind of- -girlie." Sound like me??

He wrote about a woman on whom he had a huge crush. "Because reliably, pretty much every time we got together, I would manage to say something idiotic and hurtful: pretentious or sexist or condescending."
Been there, done that.

“Our egos, Austen was telling me, prevent us from owning up to our errors and our flaws, and so our egos must be broken down—exactly what humiliation does, and why it makes us feel so worthless.” There’s a shot to the head!

As I read about the author's relationships with several different women, and read what he learned from Austen,  I realized that there are some lessons to be learned from Jane Austen. I  just can't believe that I had to read a book from another guy to discover that. Maybe we should have read Austen in high school.

Maybe it all makes sense. If you want to understand about love, friendship and things like that, you will need to read a book by an author who wrote about that. The scary part is that I'm not sure how much more about myself I want to know.

So what now?? I guess that I will have to read an Austen book and decide for myself.  Maybe I'll just watch a movie made from one of her books. Sense and Sensibility seems to be highly recommended. I'll try it without being tied down first.


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