Reading Austen

My assignment for this week is to read Northanger Abbey.  Probably one of the easiest reading assignments I’ve ever been given.  I’ve read NA at least twice that I can remember, and I recently finished Amanda Grange’s novel Henry Tilney’s Diary, which, while there is a good deal of creative license in the novel (being from Mr. Tilney’s POV), it does follow JA’s story quite well.

Northanger Abbey was actually the first JA novel I ever read.  I don’t know what made me read it before Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, but I did and I loved it.  I loved it so much that I tried reading Sense and Sensibility and Emma before realizing that they weren’t as much fun to read as NA.  Years later, I reread Sense and Sensibility, and came to the conclusion that I simply wasn’t ready for the full impact of JA’s writing, because I adored Sense and Sensibility the second time around.

The point is, as this semester is beginning, I find that reading doesn’t seem like such a chore for me as it has been in past semesters.  Granted, I will have some boring criticism to slog through in my other class, but that is just part of the English educational process.  What I’ve determined is that I can’t allow myself to read the fun stuff first, so I’ve committed to doing my JA reading at the end of my weekly reading list, so that I’ll have something to motivate me to read everything else that I don’t want to read.

It might surprise you to know that this semester, I will actually be reading some of Austen’s novels for the first time . . . sort of.

The truth is, I’ve never been able to make it through Mansfield Park.  I’ve tried, but I can barely tolerate Fanny Price, and Edmund Bertram is so much of a pansy that it makes me want to scream.  Compared to Darcy, Brandon and Wentworth, Edmund Bertram is a foolish child.  I would have much preferred a story where Fanny grew up and realized that Tom was the real catch in this family.

As for the others, I’ve mostly read them all.  I guess you might as well know that I skimmed Emma because JA was right when she said that she’d created a heroine that nobody but her could really like.  I don’t much like Emma, but I adore Mr. Knightley, so I can tolerate the novel, if I must.

And while I’m almost 100% certain that I read Persuasion once, I can’t remember actually doing it, so I never answer the question.  However, I know the story so well that I can hardly deny my familiarity with it.
However, through all of this, I’m hoping that somewhere along the way, as I revisit all that is Jane, I will discover something new and different in the novels that will give me an even greater appreciation of her work.

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