50 Classics: Emma by Jane Austen (aka The Torquemada of Hampshire)

Finally, finally, finally finished Jane Austen’s Emma as part of my long neglected 50 Classics project. I hadn’t realized just how much a bottleneck this novel has become. I could spare people the brunt of my Emma rant and simply say that Austen’s form of writing and this particular Regency era comic romance does nothing for me… but I can’t. I need this catharsis to make a break through in my (otherwise) love of reading.

While the style is amusing and entertaining in brief doses, it becomes miasmic after several chapters in Emma. I’m certain that in comparison to London air quality in the coming years, Austen was a nostalgically invigorating breath of fresh air. I suspect that in a hundred years the romantic comedies of our time such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Runaway Bride and Coming to America will hold a similarly high place in our culture.

I expect brutal reprisals from the “The Janeites”. I take comfort that I’m not alone in my Austenian Revolution; Mark Twain “Jane Austen? Why, I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book.”

You may also like...

7 Responses

  1. Pipistrella says:

    It’s okay. We don’t expect everyone to understand Austen.

  2. Mystech says:

    You know, I hear the very same thing about the New Age movement, so I guess I’m ok with “not getting” some things. 😉

  3. Pipistrella says:

    Well, you are sort of holding her personally responsible for the way EVERYONE wrote during her lifetime.

  4. Joie says:

    Laurie’s right, actually. That was actually the style of the period. However, you do realize that Jane Austin is the Regency equivalent of Danielle Steele, right?

  5. Mystech says:

    Oh, I do realize that was a very popular form of writing for the period (albeit not everyone, everywhere), I simply don’t enjoy it. I don’t because a style is predominant during is any reason we must automatically celebrate it (see also, Grunge during the mid 1980s). I do think your analogy to Danielle Steele is good one though; widely read, popular appeal, but not necessary literary genius. I would not be surprised if the works of Danielle Steele aren’t reviewed by literature students in a hundred years or so in much the same way.

  6. nighthob says:

    How can you dislike Jane Austen when almost every woman you know could fill one of her “plucky heroine” roles?

    I’m actually not a huge fan of “Emma,” but I do really like “Pride and Prejudice.” That might be more because Colin Firth played Darcy in the BBC version, though. And, of course, there’s the updated version of P&P, “Bridget Jones Diary,” which also stars Colin Firth. Oh dear… I’m sensing a theme that has very little to do with Jane Austen’s writing.

  7. Mystech says:

    You know, I had considered Pride and Prejudice instead of Emma as the representative work of Jane Austen on my 50 Classics list. Perhaps I should have chose the former.

Leave a Reply