Friday, June 5, 2009

Remarkably Jane

Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen by Jennifer Adams.
"What is all this about Jane Austen? What is there in her? What is it all about?"—Joseph Conrad, 1901, novelist
What is it, then? I know I'm addicted to Jane's prose. There's something universal about her characters that sucks me into the story. Funny, sad, heartening, romantic, and just plain grand. I love the way she makes me believe in love and happy endings, even if she never found her own.
"Austen tells us how much we have to suffer in order to find real love and truth as well as the pain of growing up. These conflicts in one way or another determine our lives."—Ang Lee, director of 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility
Eek. I don't like suffering, but really, what is love but pain? Enough about me, though. What does the acknowledged Jane-ite have to say?
"To those of us who love Jane Austen," Adams writes, "she is like the brightness of burnished silver. Something lovely, with sparkle, that makes our world more beautiful."
Ah, now that's a lovely image. The book is full of them, as well as interesting tidbits that others have said about Jane. From writers to actors to those who adore Jane—or absolutely hate her—this book collects their thoughts on one of the great English novelists.
And hate—believe it or not—some did.
Infamous curmudgeon Mark Twain said, "Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone."
That quote makes me wonder, though, why he read it again if he didn't like it the first time. I can understand the addiction, however, as I've fallen prey to it numerous times. For the Austen addicts among us, this is a beautiful book that captures the spirit and love of our favorite hopeless romantic.