My introduction to Jane Austen was through Pride and Prejudice (of course) via a friend’s recommendation. I was 14 at the time and in 8th grade. I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. The language was a bit above my head at the time and it was a classic which I still associated with school book reports. Anyway, I detested Pride and Prejudice, why did my friend waste my time?
Strangely enough, I watched the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride
and Prejudice soon after rejecting the novel and liked it. Go figure. I
found it witty, romantic, and wanted to be just like Elizabeth Bennet and find my Mr. Darcy, preferably after the “wet t-shirt” scene.
Junior year of high school I became more adventurous with my reading and decided to reread Pride and Prejudice. The second time was the charm. I loved everything about it, the language, Mr. Darcy, the plot, Mr. Darcy and the various well developed characters, such as Mr. Darcy. I became a Janeite over night.
How did this effect my reading? I became more broad in my choice of literature venturing into the Brontes and authors similar to Jane Austen. I also became more critical on novels I read of any genre and thought more deeply after reading, deeming myself a scholar from days of yore lurking in the depths of my library.
Jane Austen also effected the way I wrote, I had been keeping a diary since 6th grade and grew more active and thoughtful on what I wrote and how it was phrased. Second, I became more active in letter writing (the ink and paper kind) after devouring the admirable letters from Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth. This now feels like a lost art with all the different ways of communication and a message from Facebook doesn’t have the same intimacy..
I have read the books, watched the movies, including a few retellings and have come to the conclusion that I am a purist. Retellings are all fun and dandy, but they just don’t capture that spark for me. It is hard to meet my exceptions of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, Marianne and Col. Branden, Emma and Mr. Knightly… Jane Austen’s works cannot be matched in my book. They are timeless.