This week’s Weekly Geeks is about your favourite author. I know what I automatically answer when someone asks me who my favourite author is. Without a question I would tell them Jane Austen. I wouldn’t even need to blink or pause. However, depending on the person who asks the question, I sometimes do pause or cast a sideways glance and answer with downcast eyes that it’s “um.. Jane Austen” and then go into a rapid explanation of how it isn’t only for the fact that her stories are romantic, but that there are so many other qualities to her work as well. That actually, those are the qualities I enjoy most. I am clearly not the fanatic Austen fan that you often meet online. I don’t go around quoting her work or dressing up in period costume attending special meetings where you can dance the way Jane Austen would’ve done when she was young. I am not saying that that isn’t the right way to go, I just don’t think I could be that kind of girl. Even though I’d love to be able to dress up and pretend like that, I think I’d feel embarrassed. Anyway, I do not go around proclaiming my undying love for the works of Jane Austen to anyone around. The fact that I don’t made me wonder why.
My love of Jane Austen has been stable ever since I first read Pride and Prejudice in high school. My then long-term (say, 2 years) and altogether not-that-good-for-me boyfriend had broken up with me and I really needed to escape to somewhere where I could still feel loved. Even though my situation has changed a lot since then, the stories by Jane Austen are still my favourite and safest form of escape. No matter how down or out of touch I feel, her stories always (sort-of) bring me back to life. Whether it be in the form of her actually novels, or by watching one of the movie-adaptations (sometimes, that’s just a quicker way of escape). For example, no matter how often I have read the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy I still get these warm and tingly feelings during the first rejection scene and their subsequent reconciliation.
I think it might be this association with safety and romanticism that makes me ashamed to admit to my liking of Austen to everyone. I am afraid people will be able to read it in my face that I am in fact that much of a dreamer and as my high school teacher would say, living proof that some people in the modern world still celebrate the escapism of the Romantic Era. However, over time I have found out that there is more to Austen’s books than simple escapism or the love between romantic heroes. My enjoyment of her other qualities must’ve been there the very first time I read her work. Otherwise, I should’ve enjoyed the other types of romantic novels catered to women just as much, and I didn’t and still don’t most of the time. Jane Austen works have a realism to them that hardly any other writer captures as she does. I think I love her best for her subtle silliness and the way she pokes fun at certain conventions of her time. I believe she broadcasts a belief in the abilities of women without the often shouting obviousness of feminism. Getting over my more disappointed hopes in the area of boyfriends, as I am currently living together with my boyfriend of 4 years, I think I began to enjoy those qualities of her work more and more. I do believe I will continue to do so in the upcoming years. And even though it is this list of qualities that I usually name when I tell people that Jane Austen is to be considered my favourite author, I cannot help but escape from the fact that the function of a safety net that her work holds for me will always remain part of the appeal.
To be brutally honest at the end of this entry, I have to shamefully admit that I do not enjoy all works by Austen as much as some of her more ardent admirers do. My favourite is unquestionably Persuasion (I will, I promise, bore you all with my defence of this novel as her best sometime), followed by Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. Somehow Emma never appealed as much to me and Sense and Sensibility.. I don’t know why, but I could never get through the book without feeling that the story moves along a little slowly from time to time.
Do you have an almost automatic question to the question which author you enjoy most? Do you feel confident in your reasons for loving that author or are you left feeling ashamed sometimes, as I am?
I think what this Weekly Geeks has made me realise most of all, is that I’m not a very intellectual expert on why I do or do not enjoy a certain type of literature. My feelings and my ability to relate to the story and its characters have a strong hold on my judgement.
By the way, this is the first time I’m participating in Weekly Geeks. I enjoyed it a lot, although I feel a bit shy in posting this entry. I hope I did okay and that it’s alright to give your own spin to the questions as I did.