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~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, June 7, 2010

Upon Craving Chick Lit


Lacking any chick lit to read yesterday, I picked up Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, the chick lit author of the 18th century.

Opening Paragraphs:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

"However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters."

How can you not love this?

A few interesting facts about Jane Austen:

She started writing in her teen years.

Her first novel was Northanger Abbey, although it wasn't published until after her death. Reading it, you can see her development as a writer.

Her first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, was self-published in 1811.

She published it and Pride and Prejudice anonymously.

Her stories were based loosely on her own and her family experience.

She had one proposal of marriage, which she accepted then retracted the following day.

She died at age 42.

Her popularity is greater today than ever before.

My own observations:

Austen writes with POV all over the place. Within chapters, even paragraphs, the point of view will change suddenly.

Sometimes it's necessary to reread a section because you really don't know what the heck anyone just said there.

These people are obsessed with money. Everyone talks about how much everyone else has to live on.

It doesn't matter what rules of writing she follows-- it all comes together so well, who cares? You just want more. Give me more Jane Austen. Oh, dear Jane, why did you have to die so young and leave us with only seven novels?

44 comments:

  1. I didn't realise somehow that she died so young! You're right - you have to love her, despite the wonky POV shifts and some bizarrely crafted sentences.

    Yes, the original chick lit writer!

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  2. i love jane austen.

    she wrote in such a descriptive manner without being boring. i actually really like northanger abby, though it's not the first austen book i ever read.

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  4. I couldn't agree more, Karen. Jane Austen hit a responsive chord that time can't diminish, even if her POV test's the reader's sanity. That first opening paragraph sentence you quoted is so on-target today, even if some mothers of eligible daughters pretend otherwise. And thanks, Karen, for stopping by. You're a very, very kind person!!

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  5. Oh you're making me crave some Jane Austen! Their obsessions with status and men I think are very relevant for that time. It was virtually impossible to move from one class to another.

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  6. Hmm. I find it hard to get over the characters' and narrations' complete lack of interest in what's going on outside their immediate community, even though I understand that's all part of the world Austen constructs. (It was such an interesting time, dammit, and I want to see *more* of it...)

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  7. Melinda GardinerJune 7, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Ah, Jane Austen, the PERFECT chick 'lit' read - not to be confused with a chick 'light' read, however. Hers are not the type of books I can flip through in an hour, but well worth the read.

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  8. Every year I make sure I read an Austen novel. A couple are a little turgid, but then the brilliance of P&P and Northanger Abbey shine through.

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  9. I think it's interesting. Not sure JA would be published today but she'd be rich if she was alive. Great tidbits.

    CD

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  10. Jane Austin is my all time favorite. I first read her in my teens. Though she was dismissed by the Brontes. I can read and re-read her novels over and over again.

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  11. Original chick lit- I love it! Another great book that is SO underrated is The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, written by sister Anne Bronte. It's WONDERFUL chick lit, old school style :)

    Marissa

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  12. Thanks for reminding us of her today!

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  13. I just love her wit. She's funny. I like reading Edith Wharton too for the same reason. They both look at their societies with a very tongue-in-cheek approach.

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  14. Have you read 'Emma' Yet? Austen has that same twist of character, although I think the plot is a little thinnger that P&P and S&S.

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  15. What I love about Jane is her social satire & wit...its still funny today, many years & several cultural shifts later...

    My fav JA book is Persuasion.

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  16. I love Jane Austen's novels. I tend to re-read Pride & Prejudice nearly every year.
    Useless fact: I went to University in Winchester, a little town in the South of England, where Austen lived the last years of her life and died. The house she lived in is quite close to the cathedral and such a peaceful place. She was a great talent taken way too soon.

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  17. Some writing is truly timeless. She may not have followed the 'rules' of modern writers, but it doesn't seem to have hurt her any.

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  18. Oh wow - Jane Austen "the chicklit author of the 18th century" - brilliantly put KarenG - I love that description of her!

    Take care
    x

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  19. It's fascinating to me the resurgence of Jane - or was she always popular and I just didn't know it. I love, love, love that teen girls read her. That's like awesome squared. :)

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  20. I love Jane Austen too. I actually didn't even like her work when I first read it in high school, because I didn't understand it. But once I started college and learned to understand her work in my classes, it gave me a whole new perspective and admiration for her. Have you seen the movie Lost in Austen? It's about this girl from the 21st century who accidentally stumbles into the world of Pride and Prejudice. They made a version of it in England that's available on Amazon, and I think Sam Mendes is going to make a big-screen version that's coming out soon.

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  21. I had to laugh at "Jane Austen, the chick lit author of the 18th century." I never thought about her in that light before. Love it!

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  22. Jane Austen is my hero. Yeah, the POV can be hard to follow--although she does follow the rules for omniscient narrator; I think it's just slightly foreign to modern readers because we encounter it so infrequently and it is largely frowned upon. But I think I would read her novels, anyway, for the characterization alone--I can't say "astounding" enough times to describe it!
    Yeah...I got a little "depressed" the other day when I realized Jane wrote (though not published) Pride and Prejudice when she was younger than me...I've been thinking of myself as a young writer, with lots of time to write my GREAT novel...but now, I feel old.... ;)

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  23. I, too, love Jane Austen! I started reading the classics years ago in an attempt to improve my Trivial Pursuit game, LOL. Who knew I would fall in love along the way?

    (My Trivial Pursuit game still sucks)

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  24. I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read Jane Austen. I guess I should add that to my TBR list.

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  25. Love this post! There just comes a time when Jane must be had!

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  26. I read Pride and Prejudice back in high school and the one thing I remember is how bored I was by the book. Based on everyone's comments, however, I think I will give it another whirl. Now that I have twenty-six years of experience under my belt, perhaps I will give the book a whirl again.

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  27. I've read every Austen novel there is, including the unfinished ones. She was a true genius!

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  28. I'm an Austen fan, and am very sad that she only wrote 7 novels as well.

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  29. Karen--I'm giving a chick lit novel on my blog...it's one of those compelling stories that makes you cry in public...I love books that evoke great feelings...women's fiction, ya, mg or pb...

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  30. Honestly, I couldn't get first the first page. The writing style and myself did not gel so well. :)

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  31. get past.... damn early morning.. :P

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  32. Seven novels? I thought it was six... oh. Unfinished ones. Not sure I could bear to read those. I love Jane Austen, although I don't enjoy 20th/21st century chick lit in general. I think it's her acerbic sense of humour I like the most.

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  33. I agree. Give us more! I'd love to see what she might have written had she lived longer. PS: got your books today :) Gonna start with Farm Girl! xx

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  34. 18th century chick lit! That is so funny.

    I love her for her acute observations of character and for her wit.

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  35. Love Jane Austen but I agree I have found some of the classic literature to have wandering POVs, I wonder if the rule of one POV per chapter is just a recent thing?

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  36. Thanks Karen - I now want to read some Jane Austen.. I havent read most of the 'classics' but you have whetted my appetite. You should check out another Irish blogger Jane Travers who is mad about Jane Austen - here blog called Jane obsessed with Jane is at www.janetravers.blogspot.com tell her I sent u!

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  37. it was such an interesting world back then. you couldn't do 30 drafts. you didn't have an editor. a lot of things just went b/c there wasn't any way to regulate them!

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  38. I had no idea she died so young, how awful! Yes I was upset knowing that she left us with only 7 brilliant novels, but I suppose leaving on a high note is always best!

    I adore a good chick lit and I adore a good Jane Austen, though difficult to read at first you soon become emersed in the world she lived in.

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  39. Dare I whisper this? I haven't read any books by Jane Austen. Somehow or other they have passed me by - but the year is young! Interesting observations about her work - I wonder how easy / hard it was to publish back then and whether or not there were any stringent edits, so to speak? Or maybe wandering POV was the fashion?

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  40. Styles may change and POV guidelines may shift, but people pretty much stay the same and have the same priorities and problems. Jane Austen wrote about people, so her work still resonates today. We should all be so fortunate.

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  41. Jane Austen is an author I can never have enough of. Her situations may be something we can't exactly relate to any longer, but what they hell, her characters are so real!

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  42. Just think how much more she could've accomplished if she had lived longer.

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  43. I agree with Talli - you HAVE to like Jane Austen. Girl Power:)

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  44. Great post! I only just read Pride and Prejudice myself. I have to admit I didn't like it to start, but by the end, I was sold. :-)

    - Corra

    the victorian heroine

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