Author Addiction: Jane Austen

author addiction

It’s the first Monday of the month and we’re back with Author Addiction! This is a monthly feature here on Of Dragons and Hearts and on A Fool’s Ingenuity, Becky’s wonderful blog. You can also check out my previous editions with Robin HobbTessa DareSarah MacLeanLaini TaylorVictoria (V. E.) Schwab, Sarah J. Maas, and Jennifer L. Armentrout. I think Danya of Fine Print will be joining us this time so make sure you check out both blogs!

This month, we decided to pick a common favourite, JANE AUSTEN! I can’t believe we didn’t think of her before but here we are now.

FIY, this post is *spoiler-free* in case you haven’t read her books yet (you really should, though!)

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Jane and I go a way back. The first time I read Pride and Prejudice – or rather Prevzetnost in Pristranost – was in high school, when I picked up a really ugly old copy (from 1969, I think) that we had at home as a part of a collection of great translated classics. I don’t even know why I decided to read it, maybe I’d already watched the BBC adaptation with my mom? In any case, this was the beginning of my long and faithful relationship with Jane Austen’s wonderful work.

author-addiction-austen5When asked those horrible, horrible questions, “What is your favourite book?”, or “If you could pick just one book to take with you to a desert island, which would you choose?” my answer is invariably Pride and Prejudice. I know, so cliché! But what can I do, I fell in love – not just with Mr. Darcy but with the entire cast and plot and writing.

In any case, I soon bought myself a lovely copy of the original text and proceded to re-read it about 7 times, whereupon I switched to listening to the audiobook whenever I feel like visiting Lizzy and crew because I can no longer justify reading the actual text when I practically know it by heart. Something about this story just speaks to me. I think P & P is a also wonderful starting point for anyone unfamilliar with her work.

author-addiction-austenI went on to acquire and read Jane’s entire work (I think?) in English, though I bought the books at different times, which resulted in my sadly mismatched collection. I sometimes send covetous glances towards those gorgeous Penguin hardbacks and even think about acquiring one of those enormous “collected novels” books that I couldn’t even carry around with me/hold up with one hand but I always decide to buy different books instead. *sigh*

My second-favourite of Jane’s books is Persuasionwhich is slower and more… meditative than the lively P & P but I liked Anne despite her indecision and propensity for being pushed around by her family. The fact that Rupert Penry-Jones played Captain Wentworth had nothing to do with it, naturally.

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Jane Austen is also the only author (so far) that has inspired me to enter a very heated debate argument with a colleague at the University. He said all romances, including Jane’s were sappy and bad and without literary value – without having read her novels. My response was, I think, appropriately explosive and we finally agreed to disagree on the subject. I still get a bit riled up when I think about it.

I did manage to convice my husband to read P & P  – my selling point was “I’ll never nag you about reading her novels again if you read this one and then tell me you hate it.” He really liked it, in fact, and went on to read Sense and Sensibility, too. :)

As for the movie versions of her novels – I will never forget Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy but the 2005 version with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden owns my heart. That final scene with Darcy’s confession is pure gold, as is the wet one of his first heated speech. <3

I haven’t watched the other movies for ages which is something I intend to rectify immediately after my crazy schedule clears up a bit. I might even re-read some of the novels first, I just gave myself a major re-read lust by writing this post (funny how the mind works…).

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Don’t forget to check out Becky’s and Danya’s posts! 

Have you read any of Jane’s novels? Which one is your favourite? 

Do you buy multiple copies of your favourite books? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • Nicole Hewitt

    P&P was my first Austen book (I just read it not all that long ago) and I have yet to read another one – but I definitely plan to! I’ll have to check out Persuasion.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    • I wonder if I would have felt about Austen’s work the same way if I read her books as an adult. Probably? I definitely think they helped shape me as a reader – and as a person – when I was a teenager, so I’m really glad I read them then! I hope you’ll enjoy Persuasion, it really is a nice book.

  • There is no surprise that Jane’s legacy has lasted all this time. “Appropriately explosive” indeed – I could feel my blood pressure rising reading the paragraph ab out your colleague, lol!

    I don’t remember what my first Austen was but it was likely P&P. My favorite is Sense and Sensibility, though really my love for it, P&P, Persuasion and Emma are all pretty close. My favorite adaptation is also the 2005 P&P – I adore Mathew MacFadyen’s Darcy. Close second is Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility.

    Have fun with your re-watch/re-read!!

    • Yeah, he was a really good friend of mine but this was just a completely horrible argument. I remember other people backing away slowly ;)

      Ha, Emma is actually my least favourite! I just don’t like meddling people that much – she was too privileged for my taste but the ending is really good. I think I should perhaps re-read it and see if I think differently about it now that I’m older.

      And yes, Matthew MacFayden <3

  • Persuasion is sooo good, I seriously loved that book! Crazy story: so you know those annotated versions of classic novels, the really large and cumbersome ones that have lots of additional paratextual stuff included like photos? One of my profs in undergrad is the guy who annotated the official version of Persuasion! He lectured about it (and P&P) several times and I was blown away.

    Your colleague sounds like a nob. I’m sorry, but the first thing you learn in University English is that if you haven’t read the book, shut your hole. This has happened to me multiple times because my aunt is an English prof and she thinks SFF and YA are “childish” and without literary merit. The only SFF books she’s ever read (to my knowledge) are by Tolkien, so how she can think SFF is without literary merit I will never know. I applaud you for agreeing to disagree because I still can’t let it go, haha!

    YES 2005 P&P forever! Seroiusly, Matthew Macfadyen just has…something. I don’t know. He’s not conventionally handsome in the way that most actors are, but I find him extremely compelling. I also loved the guy who played Bingley, and who knew that sweet Jane played by Rosamund Pike would go on to scare me for life in Gone Girl?! Crazy.

    My Austen collection is terribly mismatched, too. Probably because I bought all of them used in various book shops (for like $3 each, such a bargain!). One day those Penguin hardcovers are going to be the death of me. Or rather my wallet!

    • Ahh! Really? Lucky you! My profs rarely mentioned Austen at all, I think they mostly thought she was just “that romance writer” :( And at least half of the profs were women! Such a shame… Austen’s novels didn’t come up ONCE as required reading or anything. Pfft.

      And YES I know people should really stop judging books without reading them but half the world thinks all romances are trash and there’s no stopping them, really. This is not helped by the fact that a lot of romances really ARE trash (sorry, but you know I’m right when you look at some of the stuff available through Netgalley :D).

      And I know how you feel about arguing with family about books – my mom recently told me she wasn’t going to read a book I recommended (a YA fantasy) because “it has magic and stuff in it”. She reads loads of books, she really does, but she never got into fantasy, which always saddens me. If people just stopped looking at magic (and “stuff”) like it was this hugely important thing, they’d see the wonderful stories lurking underneath… Eh.

      Matthew is … yeah. You’re right, he’s not that handsome and when I look at pics at him (non-moving ones), I don’t even understand myself but once you see him act, he’s amazing. OH can you imagine watching him in a PLAY? Omg he’d be fantastic. Or a MUSICAL :D Eep!

      I haven’t read or watched Gone Girl so no spoilers please :D I might or might not read it at some point when I decide I’m up for a thriller. We’ll see.

      But yes, Bingley! :D Such a dunce but pretty nice, really.

      I love cheap editions of classic novels that have gone out of copyright. I don’t know whether that’s bad etiquette but I really like cheap books in general… But as you say – one day, when I’m older and wiser (and richer), I’ll get all the pretty books :)

  • P&P is my go-to “favorite book” whenever I’m asked as well. It’s hard not to be when I own so many different editions and I’ve reread it more than any other book. And look, even my profile picture is me holding a copy. Oh my gosh, that scene in the rain, gets me every time! And Captain Wentworth, you are my second favorite for sure.

    • Ooh, you own different editions? I’d love to see a photo of your collection. :) And I hadn’t noticed you’re holding a P&P in your profile pic, that’s so cool! And it’s a beautiful copy.
      Haha, that scene in the rain is very popular, it seems!

      • I’ll take a picture of them this week and mention you, so you can see how crazy I am :P

  • Maraia

    I’ve only read Pride & Prejudice (my favorite) and Sense & Sensibility, but I have been meaning to read the rest. (Not sure when it will EVER happen, but this post does rekindle some of my interest.)

    I’m angry at your colleague. What a stereotypical, ignorant thing to say. At least if he’d read some Jane Austen, his argument would carry a bit more weight. (But only a bit.) Ughhh.

    I think I only have multiple copies of Harry Potter. :D That top copy of Pride & Prejudice is GORGEOUS.

    Personally, I couldn’t sit through the Colin Firth version of Pride & Prejudice, but I love the newer version, including the gorgeous soundtrack. I actually didn’t read the book until after I fell in love with the movie.

    Did I ever tell you that one year during college, my parents and I spent the entire summer reading Jane Austen spin-off novels? I have no idea who started it, but one of my parents brought a couple home from the library, and it spiraled from there. Some of them were quite entertaining. Clearly, Jane Austen isn’t just for girls. (*rolls eyes*) I also spent a long train ride with three middle-aged women on their way to the Jane Austen convention in Minnesota. They were wonderfully nerdy and hilarious. :D

    • Ooh, yes, the soundtrack! I forgot to mention that. It’s such beautiful music. Do you have any other favourite soundtracks?

      Did you read any spin-offs based on Austen books you hadn’t read previously? Or did you just read P&P and S&S spin-offs? Did any of them stick with you (as in, do I need to get my hands on them stat)? :)

      And yes, that was a pretty ugly argument I had. I don’t even know why, the guy was really decent and a good friend and not close-minded at all about other things. But he still ticked me off.

      I own two sets of HP books – English and Slovenian but the Slo version isn’t complete – I don’t have books 6 and 7. Oh, well :)

      • Maraia

        The Lord of the Rings, haha. What about you?

        They were all based off of P&P, I believe. I read them before I had Goodreads, so it looks like I rated them all a default e-stars. I honestly don’t remember anything about them, but they were fun.

        How did this argument even get started?

        I’m missing two or three books from my American hardcovers as well. I would really like to have them, but it’s hard to justify buying them. I also have the first four in Spanish and a couple in German. The original British editions are the only ones I have as a complete set (and the first two are paperback, so basically nothing matches). :D

        • Becoming Jane isn’t half bad. But yeah, the LOTR soundtrack is classic.

          Umm I think I must have said Austen was my favourite author or something? I really don’t remember – it was a while ago after all.

          I KNOW, it’s so hard to buy double copies of books when there are new books to be bought and read! :) I’m not really particular about my series matching, I see bloggers complaining about this all the time but I’m like “I’ll buy whatever is cheapest, please” or whatever I can get my hands on first if it’s a new, very anticipated release.

  • This!! A thousand times, this!

    I love Jane Austen too, and your colleague can just take that nasty opinion and keep it to himself. Her work still touches countless new people more than two hundred years later, and if that doesn’t speak to literary merit I don’t know what does. That whole argument against romance/romantic-based literature just stinks of prejudice against writers who are women. Grr.

    On the happier side of this post, Persuasion is my favorite closely followed by Pride & Prejudice. It could be because I read P&P in high school. I should revisit it, as I have read the rest of her works in the last couple of years. Also, 2005 P&P is my favorite movie. That scene where he first proposes with the down pouring rain, oh dear me.

    • Haha is it weird that I grinned like an idiot when I recognized the Austen reference in your first line? (I love this community so much.)

      I never followed back with him to ask if he finally managed to get over himself and read the book. I wish I had, it would be interesting to know.

      YES to that rainy scene. I always felt conflicted (less so when I was reading the book, though) about Lizzy’s refusal of Darcy at that point – I KNOW he was being a privileged jackass and that she couldn’t possibly say yes and save her integrity but he was also wet and ARDENT and… umm… If P&P was a 21st century romance we’d get some angry-kissing at least, followed by much guilt and possibly shouting. But perhaps all the repressed sexual tension is even better. :)

      • Ha, no! I was hoping you would. :D

        And you should just casually drop a dog-eared copy on his desk or in the mail.

        The tension in that scene is bonkers. In the movie I love how they almost seem to kiss — it wouldn’t have been good (or really accurate) if they did. The anguish, haha. What a story.

        • I think he would have read the book if he wanted to – I can only recommend books, I (sadly) can’t MAKE people read them! :)

          YES that almost-kiss! It takes even more skill than actual kissing, I think.

  • I love your post, I also have a horribly mismatched collection that came from slowly buying all the books myself and going for the cheapest option. I sometimes contemplate investing in a matched set or investing in the pretty hardback copies of my favourites, but I’d just want to own them all in the end so it would be cheap and there are plenty of other books I’d rather invest in. My old battered copies have history. They are my originals! They can be replaced when they start losing pages.

    I loved Persuasion before the TV version with Rupert Penry-Jones came out, but that definitely helped boost my love for that book because he is such a dreamy Captain Wentworth. I also have to disagree, Keira Knightly and Matthew McFayden made a pretty awesome couple in the film version, but Colin Firth will always own my heart as Mr Darcy, I simply cannot help it. I think it’s because that is the first proper exposure I had to Austen so I love it.

    I love you got into a heated debate over Austen, I cannot stand when people put down books or authors without actually reading the, you simply cannot have an informed opinion if you haven’t read it. You can say that a book isn’t your cup of tea, not your genre to read, but you cannot form a judgement when you have nothing to base it on! It is one of my pet peeves with people.

    • Haha, are your copies that far gone? :D Mine are still holding up pretty well. And as most (all?) of Austen’s novels are now translated into Slovenian, I haven’t been lending my copies that much to others…

      I think I read Persuasion before I saw the movie, too, but YES, he’s dreamy. I also watched him in Charlotte Gray, which is another beautiful movie. Well, Colin Firth is a very nice English gentleman, that’s true. I actually really liked seeing him in other movies, like King’s Speech, that was wonderful. And also as Darcy in Bridget Jones! :) And in Love Actually! :D (I like Colin Firth…)

      Yep, that was my point exactly :) Some people just don’t get this. You can’t hate a whole genre, especially without having read anything from it!

  • I hate to admit it, but I’m not a huge fan of Jane Austen. Give me a Bronte novel any day! To be fair to Jane, I’ve only read two of her works, and neither were her most celebrated. Mansfield Park just felt so tedious to me – there were ten chapters about a play that was NEVER even performed! But I did really like Northanger Abbey – it’s satirical and cute and funny. I actually have one of those huge leather bound collected works books, and it is huge, but it does give me the motivation to read some more of her works… one day!
    Beth x
    http://www.thequietpeople.com