A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About by William Deresiewicz

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By William Deresiewicz

An eloquent memoir of a tender man's lifestyles remodeled through literature.

In A Jane Austen Education, Austen pupil William Deresiewicz turns to the author's novels to bare the impressive lifestyles classes hidden inside. With humor and candor, Deresiewicz employs his personal reports to illustrate the iconic energy of Austen's teachings. Progressing from his days as an immature scholar to a fortunately married guy, Deresiewicz's A Jane Austen Education is the tale of 1 man's discovery of the realm outdoors himself.

A self-styled highbrow insurgent devoted to writers comparable to James Joyce and Joseph Conrad, Deresiewicz by no means notion Austen's novels may have whatever to supply him. but if he used to be assigned to learn Emma as a graduate scholar at Columbia, whatever amazing occurred. Austen's devotion to the standard, and her trust within the worth of normal lives, ignited anything in Deresiewicz. He started viewing the realm via Austen's eyes and treating these round him as generously as Austen taken care of her characters. alongside the best way, Deresiewicz used to be surprised to find that the folks in his lifestyles built the intensity and richness of literary characters-that his personal lifestyles had unexpectedly received the entire fascination of a singular. His genuine schooling had ultimately began.

Weaving his personal story-and Austen's-around those her novels inform, Deresiewicz exhibits how her books are either approximately schooling and themselves an schooling. Her heroines find out about friendship and feeling, staying younger and being sturdy, and, after all, love. As they develop up, they examine classes which are imparted to Austen's reader, who learns and grows by means of their facets.

A Jane Austen Education is a testomony to the transformative energy of literature, a party of Austen's mastery, and a pleasure to learn. even if for a newcomer to Austen or a lifelong devotee, Deresiewicz brings clean insights to the novelist and her liked works. eventually, Austen's international turns into indelibly entwined with our personal, displaying the relevance of her message and the triumph of her vision.

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Extra resources for A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter

Sample text

She had thought that she could read a man the very first time she met him. She had made the mistake of believing that if a young man was affable and friendly, he must be good, and that if he was cold and arrogant and reserved, he must be bad. But now she saw how completely mistaken she’d been. ” she exclaimed to herself. “I, who have prided myself on my discernment! ” But of course, if Elizabeth had been wrong about every­ thing, then so had I. I had made the very same judgments that she had, and I had made them every bit as badly.

Says Humberstall, the simple-minded veteran at the heart of the story— Why, she was a little old maid ’oo’d written ’alf a dozen books about a hundred years ago. ’Twasn’t as if there was anythin’ to them, either. I know. I had to read ’em. They weren’t adventurous, nor smutty, nor what you’d call even interestin’—all about girls o’ seventeen . . , not certain ’oom they’d like to marry; an’ their dances an’ card-parties an’ picnics, and their young blokes goin’ off to London on ’orseback for ’air-cuts an’ shaves.

Austen, needless to say, followed all of these events—by letter, by rumor, 24 a jane austen education through newspaper reports, and in her brothers’ own stories when they returned home on leave—with breathless interest. Her neighbors were scarcely less colorful. The cast of char­ acters included “military heroes, bastard sprigs of the aristoc­ racy, ruined squires,” and “brilliant factory-owners of foreign origin,” as Austen biographer Claire Tomalin enumerates them. One, Lord Portsmouth, was a feebleminded aristocrat with a macabre taste for funerals and slaughterhouses.

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