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On the belated discovery of Jane Austen

Pemberly Pride & Prejudice

I am embarrassed to admit - with a degree in English, no less - that up until a few weeks ago I'd never read a Jane Austen novel. I've loved some of her contemporaries - the Bronte sisters in particular - and I remember leaving the theater devastated, in the best possible way, after watching Sense & Sensibility in high school.

Over the years I'd pick up an Austen book, and inevitably find the language too difficult, dense, wordy and confusing.

Until two weeks ago when I decided to try again. I wish I could remember why. 

In any event, I checked Persuasion out of the library and, upon reading it over the next few days, was left gobsmacked. Speechless. So totally in awe of Austen's ability to not only tell a shattering love story, but to enumerate so many human emotions in all of their delicate complexities. 

If Facebook leaves you depressed, there is an antidote. I just flew through Pride & Prejudice - heart stopping - although I believe my first love will also remain my favorite in Persuasion.

I'd like to post a few of my favorite quotes below. 

Persuasion

and looked so entirely as if he meant to be understood,

the misfortune of poetry to be seldom safely enjoyed by those who enjoyed it completely, and that the strong feelings which alone could estimate it truly were the very feelings which ought to taste it but sparingly,

everybody has their taste in noises as well as other matters, and sounds are quite innoxious, or most distressing, by their sort rather than their quantity.

She had only meant to oppose the too common idea of spirit and gentleness being incompatible with each other,

She hoped to be wise and reasonable in time, but - alas! alas! - she must confess to herself that she was not wise yet.

What wild imaginations one forms where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken. 

But how shall we prove anything? We never shall. We never can expect to prove anything upon such a point. It is a difference of opinion which does not admit of proof. We each begin probably with a  little bias towards out own sex, and upon that bias build every circumstance in favour of it which has occurred within our own circle - many of which circumstances (perhaps those very cases which strike us the most) may be precisely such as cannot be brought forwards without betraying a confidence, or in some respect saying what should not be said.

Pride and Prejudice

Miss Lucas perceived him from an upper window as he walked towards the house, and instantly set out to meet him accidentally in the lane.

It is difficult, indeed - it is distressing. One does not know what to think.

I beg your pardon; - one know exactly what to think.

Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object: it was the only honourable provision for well educated young women of small fortune, and, however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want.

You shall not, for the sake of one individual, change the meaning of principle and integrity, nor endeavor to persuade yourself or me, that selfishness is prudence, and insensibility of danger security for happiness.

It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us.

If it is designedly done, they cannot be justified; but I have no idea of there being so much design in the world as some persons imagine.

And lastly, swoonily,

If you will thank me, he replied, let it be for yourself alone. That the wish of giving happiness to you might add force to the other inducements which led me on I shall not attempt to deny. But your family owe me nothing. Much as I respect them, I believe I thought only of you.

image via architectural digest

Comments

Ah--so great, Hope! I love great literature! Do you find yourself walking around the house saying, "It is difficult, indeed, it is distressing. One does not know what to think."?

YES!! I so drop "upons" and "endeavors" it's embarrassing. I tend to morph into whatever I'm reading at the time. xoxoxo

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My Photo Hi! I'm Hope. Welcome to my website all about: style, food, travel & parenting. I live in Columbia, SC with my husband and two bebes.

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