If she were alive, she'd be 239 years old. That's pretty old. (She's a year older than the US of A. Pretty cool.)
In honor of my favorite author's birthday, I thought I'd give her a little shoutout on the blog. I discovered Jane Austen as an writer in probably 7th or 8th grade. My dad works at a book store, and brought home a collection of all of her works in one volume as a gift to me. I immediately read Pride and Prejudice and then quickly devoured the rest of them.
Now, I understand that Jane is not for everyone. I tend to disagree with those readers who claim that she's "boring" or "outdated" or "irrelevant," because she writes about the human condition - which hasn't changed that much in 200 years. But not everyone loves reading and not everyone loves old-time novels. To those of you, I say - you're missing out, but I won't judge you (at least out loud).
I love her. I really do. She's witty beyond belief, incredibly good at describing people as full, human characters, and really knows what she's talking about when it comes to matters of the heart. Most people have to read Pride and Prejudice during school, and then don't explore her after that. You should! You really should.
In honor of her birthday, I'm going to try and remember my favorite quotes from each of her novels, in order to maybe get you interested in them - if you haven't already fallen in love with them, like I have. I'm also going to rank them in order of my favorites, so maybe you'll be convinced to try one you haven't yet. Enjoy!
"I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever."
"Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken."
#3: Pride and Prejudice
"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun."
#4: Mansfield Park
“We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.”
#5: Sense and Sensibility
"It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;—it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others."
#6: Northanger Abbey
"It is only a novel... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language."
Most libraries have e-copies of these available to rent for free, or if you want to Project Gutenberg has free (yes, absolutely free) copies available to download right here! So if you have a Kindle or iPad, there is really no reason not to read them all, in quick succession.
Happy birthday, Jane. Thanks for introducing me to my true love of reading - and for being the boss lady writer you are, still inspiring millions of writers and readers hundreds of years after your life.