Today is a very special day for all of us, as 200 years ago Jane Austen left our world. But I believe she remains pretty much alive in the hearts and lives of millions of people throughout the world. There has been a seemingly endless stream of TV adaptations, films, books, and events devoted to our dear Jane, our community continues to talk daily about her in blogs, social media and even ball rooms, and today the city of Winchester received hundreds of Janeites to celebrate the novelists work and her life.
There are several ceremonies and events happening today, such as the unveil of the 10 £ bank note with Jane Austen’s portrait, and the anniversary service at Winchester Cathedral. I am very happy and honored to be present in some of them.
I will be glad to talk about them with you at a later stage, but for now I will only share some pictures of todays events and leave further details to a future post because I believe that today the subject of the conversation should be Jane Austen’s work 😉
(At the anniversary service)
The bank note is beautiful, isn’t it? And quoting Mr.Darcy at the service was memorable! But what I would like to ask you today is: why do you believe Jane Austen is still so very present in our society 200 years after she passed away?
I thought about it myself and I think that Jane Austen is still recognized and admired as one of the best authors in British literature because of her witty, clear and captivating writing, the authenticity of her characters and the contemporaneous subjects she approached. Of course, that we also need to think about all the external motives for her success, such as the support given to promote the British culture, namely Austen’s works, with productions like the 95 BBC miniseries, but for me the main points are the following:
Jane Austen’s writing is not dense or dark, it is funny, ironic, witty, wise and realistic at the same time.
Jane Austen wrote about what she knew, she didn’t dwell in themes she was unfamiliar with and that made her writing consistent and precise.
The themes she approached are still relevant as she explores the traits of personality that one can still find in our friends, neighbors and even ourselves.
Her writing is meant to make readers think about what is surrounding them, but also to give them joy and relief from their rushed daily life, so it is no wonder that in this crazy, busy world readers turn to Jane Austen as an escape from their incessant lives. In her books they find a sense of fulfillment and well being that makes them forget the stress of real life.
People who have never read Austen may think she creates love stories with sweet, beautiful women falling in love with dashing heros, but they could not be more wrong.
Austen’s heroines are all very different from one another, but they are mainly woman with strong personalities and faithful to their values. They do not bound to men’s wishes as it was expected of them, they fight for their own happiness and beliefs.
This is something the current audience continues to appreciate. These smart, strong willed, loyal and witty characters are very easy to relate to, and readers like to see some of their own traits in them. I think I’m a bit of an Elizabeth Bennet in some ways, and maybe a little Marianne Dashwood in others (even if she deeply annoys me… I am clearly team Eleanor).
There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.
Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen was an observer of human foibles and because of that she created memorable characters such as Elizabeth Bennet, Catherine Morland, Eleanor Dashwood, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Mr. Knightley, Captain Wentworth and Henry Tilney, but also very interesting and funny co-adjuvants who bring humor to the story and add value when it comes to the analysis of human nature such as Mr.Collins in Pride and Prejudice, Miss Bates in Emma, Mrs. Jenkins in Sense and Sensibility.
Another interesting fact is that Jane Austen didn’t create perfect characters, they all have their faults and imperfections and that makes them real and believable. They all learn from their mistakes and try to improve and grow as human beings. This is something we all can relate to.
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?
The Longing for Lost Values
The world developed at the speed of light since the 19th century, and our technological advances have been more prominent in the last 50 years than in the 200 years before that. With such development, society itself has evolved and changed. Our values are not the same they were in Jane Austen’s time and I think some people actually would like to go back to the lost values of chivalry, dignity, honor and respect that existed in the 19th century. I know I do!
What about you? Why do you think Jane Austen still lives?