A Jane Austen Education

So, to my fellow Bibliophiles, how many books have you read that are just a very slow burn getting to the point? How many of you have skipped to the end or in my case, skipped to the only chapter you were interested in to begin with?

I’m sad to say that A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz is one of those books for me. I’ve tried checking it out from the library and reading it a few times now but never made it pass the first chapter. Maybe it’s because he starts with Emma (tied for my least favorite with Mansfield Park) or maybe I just can’t connect with his writing, either way I skipped ahead to the Northanger Abbey section. I think it’s mostly because that is the only Austen story I completely connect with and understand.

Well, as I’ve stated many times, Northanger Abbey is hands down my favorite Austen. I love it! So I was interested to see what he had to say about it. I enjoyed this chapter SO MUCH. It really got to the point of what I have been trying to tell people about Henry and Catherine all along. Plus, he says it in a much more scholarly manner than I am capable of. Deresiewicz, writes about the first time Henry and Catherine have an extensive conversation in Northanger. This is what the author had to say of the exchange:

“Instead of training Catherine to follow the conventions of life in her society, like Isabella or Mrs. Allen- training her unconsciously, to follow them unconsciously- Henry was trying to wake her up to them by showing her how absurd they were. But he didn’t do it by being didactic. He did it by provoking her, taking her by surprise, making her laugh, throwing her off balance, forcing her to figure out what was going on and what it meant- getting her to think, not telling her how.”

In one paragraph the author managed to sum up the whole reason I love Northanger Abbey. I love the fact that an older guy does not see a younger woman’s naivete as an easy way for him to take advantage of her but a semi-charming quality that makes him feel especially protective. He doesn’t want her to think exactly like him, where would the fun be in that? He wants her to be able to use her brain instead of depending on the opinions of others. I LOVE that about him. It makes me sad that Mr. Tilney does not get the appreciation he deserves in the media.

Maybe it’s just me though, Maybe I am projecting what I want in a relationship into this quote?

I just wanted to share this quote with the general public.



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