Lost in Austen, again

Brian has begun an evening class this week, so I’ve taken the initiative to start getting ahead on projects that have been on my to-do list for months now.  Except at work this week we’re tearing things down, moving stuff, and still serving library patrons.  So, instead of coming home and working, I’ve been coming home and watching Netflix.   But nice thing is that I can choose whatever I want, so tonight was Lost in Austen because I’m a sucker for Jane Austen.

Even though it has been years since I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, or have even watched Firth dive into the pond, I still find myself fascinated with the author.  Her life intrigues/inspires me.  In Lost in Austen, the main character Elizabeth Bennet is missing for most of the film as she is in modern twentieth century (first footnote/side observation: it really is Elizabeth Bennet that carries the story of Pride and Prejudice.  Her absence did make the film exceedingly long).  Once we finally see Elizabeth, her hair is cut short and she looks almost like a punk rocker.  And she has already adapted to all the minute details of the digital world.  She has a line that goes something along the lines that she really is living in the wrong century and should be living in the twentieth century.  It has been said before that Jane Austen was in the wrong century.

With the growth of feminism, the character of Jane Austen has become even more of a legend.  She is close to being a fictional character herself.  We all hope that she was spunky and outspoken.  We have all created our own imaginary Jane Austen.  And with her letters I do think that she was spunky, but I am not sure if I am convinced of her being a proto-feminist.  Jane Austen was an astute observer, she was intelligent and had great insight into the doings of people.  There could be much speculation about her being a feminist, but at the end of the day she is a mystery.  Her family has chosen it that her letters be burnt and that a glowing portrait be written instead.  Isn’t it frustrating that there isn’t a good picture of her?

Maybe Jane Austen would have been a digital native, but I think she had a great heart in spite of her sometimes biting remarks.  And for that, I think, she may have been at least able to find love and perhaps pursue her craft a little more freely.  And if she had a second life, maybe, just maybe, she would consider letting someone keep her emails?

On a complete side note, because it can’t helped but be addressed.  I found the film mostly amusing, sometimes boring or painful.  In the end, it was a film to make fun of all the girls in love with Mr. Darcy/Colin Firth.   It was a film for the girls who live in hope of a glitzy over-the-top out-of-this-world romance.  May we all find Mr. Darcy.

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On Writers Influences

I was reading this in a book given to me by my writing professor years ago, and the quote reminded me of him:

“Writers have almost always witnessed about their reliance on models.  Writers read each other, and imitate, and blend, and react to traditions in literature.  Teachers — and the most imposing and successful of teachers — trace with their students the residues of earlier writers in the acheivements of later ones.  The subtlety and reach and eloquence in these weavings and recognitions must impress those of us who learn in the tradition.  We have all experienced the search and discovery, the classifying and evaluating in terms of influences.”

William Stafford, Writing the Australian Crawl

Many of my favorite writers have been introduced to me by my writing professor: Annie Dillard, Joan Didion, and Eudora Welty to name a few.  And the list of writers that we didn’t read in class is much longer.  I am still to this day reading through his list of recommendations (hence Writing the Australian Crawl).  I’m still surprised how many I find that I love, even though I shouldn’t be surprised anymore.  In so many ways these writers have influenced my own writing, but not without the initiation of my writing professor.  It is he who not only influenced my writing, but also my life as writing and life should go hand in hand.  For writers influence not only your craft, but in turn, your life.  It is words change lives; no matter if you read or write them.