Monday, December 16, 2013

You Pierce My Soul: Celebrating 238 Years of Jane Austen

Wentworth may have been half agony and half hope when confessing his feelings for Anne Elliot, but that certainly isn't the case for me today. More like half excitement, half contentment. It seems fitting when celebrating such a figure as Jane Austen.

Fair warning: the following post may overuse adjectives and trek into nonsensical territory. Bear with me. Or don't. You've been warned.

Today marks the 238th birthday for Jane and damn, girl is looking fine at her advanced age. Proof: Her novels still line the shelves of bookstores, with an accompanying film for each, her quotes are regularly used as inspiration for some pretty hilarious articles, and there is now a ten pound bank note from the Bank of England in her honor. Not bad for a woman who I doubt ever realized the kind of iconic status she would achieve years after her passing. 

It's hard for me not to shout my public declarations of affection from the rooftop, but I'll try. Also, it's probably a bad idea to be on the roof.

The older I get, the more my appreciation (okay, obsession might be a better word choice) for Jane and her writing imprint themselves on the workings of my everyday. It's not as simple as asking myself "what would Jane do?" though that has been known to happen more than once. It's more that her influence can be found in the details: in the moments of self-doubt, during a particularly amazing sunset, when things feel like they're falling apart, and while absorbing the pleasure that is drinking tea in the early morning. These are the moments when I fall in love with her all over again.

Why? Because there is so much to be said for moments that are everyday, good or bad, that can be so simple we overlook the complexities. 

I find this to be true to her novels; they have so much to offer in terms of humor, social commentary, and irony, but this may not be clear to readers who only take Jane at face value. It's essential to read behind the lines, to appreciate the metaphor for what it is. So often nowadays, this can be lost on the modern reader. Give the novels a chance, and you might find Jane hiding in the corners of your own life. She's a brilliant conversationalist, I'll tell you that much.

There isn't much more that can be said that I haven't likely said a million times before. And I'm already treading a fine line with overzealous adjectives. I blame the Jane Austen-inspired Pandora station playing in the background.

So, as another year comes to a close, here's to you Jane. You've shaped the heart and mind of this particular writer, and I can't imagine life without you by my side. As soon as I get my hands on a TARDIS, I'll be taking you up on that cup of tea and the accompanying sarcastic conversation. You just keep those Bingley sisters in line until I get there.