The other day I ran across an article by writer Elizabeth Kantor entitled “Why Jane Austen Would Approve of On-line Dating.” While I read the article with interest, the question in the back of my mind the whole time was, why should we care what Jane Austen would think? After all, how relevant can her commentary be on today’s social issues? And for that matter, why not Eudora Welty, or Edith Wharton for that matter? Both keen observers of society and chroniclers of the human condition? What is it about Jane Austen that has not only endured for so many years, but has in fact flourished? Look at all the Austen-inspired novels. Look at all the movies done over and over again. Look at the movies made of updated Austen novels (such as “Clueless”). I confess that I do not know why Austen remains center stage and her work is constantly re-invented, while others retreat quietly to the back bookshelves of academia… I submit, however, that the next generation may be the one which indeed finds it has had quite enough of Austen. Why? Because I do not think that the generation of readers which we are raising today will have the interest nor the “staying power” to find the subtleties of character and slowly plodding plots of Austen engaging. I hold this opinion only because I have watched the trend in Young Adult novels move away from character-driven stories to more and more high-adrenelin plot driven ones. The novels that are selling, the “commercial successes” must always has a hook, or a gimmick. What will readers who were raised on vampire romances and dystopian worlds facing death at every turn find engaging about a plot centered around the frustrated romance between a proud woman and haughty gentleman? May I be proved wrong.
Now, for fun. Did you know that Austen never wrote from the point of view of a man? She perhaps held the “write what you know” adage in high regard and lived by it. Since it seems we will never tire of Austen, I started to compile a list of Austen-themed novels. Even the vaunted mystery writer P.D. James was not immune, as she offered her own “Death Comes to Pemberley” last year. Here’s the start of my list–add more of your own!
Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattilo
A Weekend with Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly
Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo
What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
According to Jane by Marilyn Brant
Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
The Importance of Being Emma by Juliet Archer
The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice: A Modern Love Story with a Jane Austen Twist by Abigail Reynolds
Austenland by Shannon Hale
Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired y Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart by Laurel Ann Nattress
Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connolly