A Question for Jane Austen Fans
I've only read Pride and Prejudice. Which book should I read next? Sense and Sensibility is a bit ahead of others in the contest because I happen to have a copy of it, but not so far ahead that another couldn't overtake it.
In passing: I was surprised to discover that S&S was actually written before P&P. For some reason I'd always assumed that S&S came later, and that the title was a deliberate attempt to cash in, so to speak, on the success of P&P--never mind that I didn't and don't even know that either was a success.
You're in for a treat!
My favourite after P&P is Emma, mainly on account of the characters. The pairing of Emma and Mr Knightley is my favourite in Austen after Elizabeth and Darcy.
After that, I'm fond of S&S. I know that Mansfield Park and Persuasion have their advocates, but it's been so long since I read them that I can't really offer an opinion.
Posted by: Craig | 05/31/2021 at 10:06 PM
I also asked this question on Facebook and Emma got more votes (out of 6 or 8 reactions) than any other, so I think it will be Emma. I saw the (a?) version of Emma, a BBC thing I guess, some years ago and enjoyed it but don't remember anything very definite at all of it.
Posted by: Mac | 05/31/2021 at 10:30 PM
I think you're safe with either S&S or Emma. I've not yet read Persuasion, and MP struck me as less humorous and more serious than the others, so somewhat atypical.
Posted by: Rob G | 06/01/2021 at 05:53 AM
I missed that question on Facebook. I might even like Emma better than P&P. I don't care much for Mansfield Park. Persuasion is third. Northanger Abbey is a spoof on Gothic novels, and therefore, different than the others, and amusing.
Posted by: Janet | 06/01/2021 at 08:02 AM
Emma is definitely my favourite.
Posted by: Stu | 06/01/2021 at 09:43 AM
I figure I can't really go wrong, but also that some are better than others, so it was worth seeking opinions. There seems to be a pretty wide range of opinion on Mansfield Park.
I've wondered if the humor of Northanger would be apparent if one had not read (as I have not) any of the things she's spoofing.
Posted by: Mac | 06/01/2021 at 10:07 AM
Mansfield Park was not bad. S&S I enjoyed quite a bit. Emma I have read at least three times, and I think is far better than those first two. P&P I have never been able to "get into", and I think maybe that is because I've watched too many adaptations of it? Not sure. It takes a certain mood for me to enter Austen's world and retain interest, but Emma is always good.
Posted by: Stu | 06/01/2021 at 12:33 PM
I think you're the only Austen fan who doesn't think P&P is great, and the general rule seems to be to think it's the best.
Posted by: Mac | 06/01/2021 at 12:43 PM
Perhaps I am not an Austen fan, and only a fan of the one novel ;-)
Posted by: Stu | 06/01/2021 at 01:01 PM
Yeah, looks that way.
Posted by: Mac | 06/01/2021 at 06:00 PM
I've not read any Gothic romances, but think Northanger is great.
Posted by: Robert Gotcher | 06/01/2021 at 06:17 PM
It sounds very appealing to me.
Posted by: Mac | 06/01/2021 at 06:35 PM
Emma is a brat.
Posted by: Mac | 06/04/2021 at 01:28 PM
Posted by: Janet | 06/08/2021 at 06:23 AM
I'm about halfway through and have to admit that sometimes I get a bit impatient with the very elaborate manners and speech. If Austen were to be dropped into a crowd of contemporary Americans she would probably think she was in hell. Like Bach at a metal concert.
Posted by: Mac | 06/08/2021 at 01:15 PM
Which dramatization is the one to watch? If there is one...
Posted by: Mac | 06/10/2021 at 10:45 AM
I really liked the newest movie version, Mac. It is Emma. (with the period on the end) If you happened to watch Queen's Gambit on Netflix, the miniseries about the female chess prodigy, the same actress plays Emma. Bill Nighy is her father, and he is a hoot! I'm told that the guy who plays the vicar played Prince Charles on The Crown, but I haven't watched that, he is also quite good.
Posted by: Stu | 06/10/2021 at 02:41 PM
I don't know that guy's name, but I have seen The Crown and can imagine him being excellent as the vicar. Haven't seen Queen's Gambit although it's on my list.
I was thinking I had watched a BBC series from the '90s, but now I'm not sure whether it was that or the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow. Both came out in 1996. I have a vague notion that the Emma I saw was blonde, while the series stars Kate Beckinsale who at least in the picture at the link below is brunette. I don't think her hair color is ever stated in the novel.
Posted by: Mac | 06/10/2021 at 08:35 PM
The 90's movie Clueless is based on Emma, but I've not seen it.
Posted by: Rob G | 06/11/2021 at 05:51 AM
Neither have I, though I was aware of that. For some reason I have a prejudice against it. There may have been some provocation for that at the time but if so I've forgotten it, and just have a vague notion that it's shallow.
Posted by: Mac | 06/11/2021 at 08:54 AM
So I'm reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, about halfway through at this point, and I was just thinking about how Austen may be my least favorite of the Victorians. All of the Brontes are more interesting, along with of course George Eliot, and it goes without saying Charles Dickens. The insular teen-age female protagonist world of Jane Austen.....how did this become something that remains a "sensation" to this day when you compare it with more robust and interesting worlds created by these others?
All of that said, I do have a soft spot in my heart for Emma, the book and the movies. Other than that, I say to people wanting to read 19th century English literature, "Ignore Jane Austen and read what was written by the better authors of that period!" :-)
Posted by: Stu | 06/22/2021 at 12:10 PM
On the subject of the movie Clueless....I did see it back in the 90s when it was released. I get very impatient with people who say this is the "best" adaptation of Emma. Ugh. I would say the worst, and least interesting. Just another example of "Austen Mania" that has somehow afflicted the USA. I wonder if it is the same in England?
Posted by: Stu | 06/22/2021 at 12:12 PM
I love Tenant of Wildfell Hall. It's my favorite Bronte novel, although reading Jane Eyre recently I saw more than ever before. I am always surprised at how Christian it is.
As for the popularity of Austen: Mr. Darcy, Mr. Knightley, Capt. Wentworth. She is funny also, and that is something you surely don't see in the Brontes. I had the same experience rereading P&P as JE. I never saw before how much Lizzy is in the wrong.
Posted by: Janet | 06/22/2021 at 01:20 PM
Thank you as always for setting me straight, Janet! The Brontes seem to be equally great, quite amazing. But you are correct, not too much humor LOL
Posted by: Stu | 06/22/2021 at 02:05 PM
"Austen may be my least favorite of the Victorians."
It's a common error, but Austen's not a Victorian; she's a Regency novelist. She died long before Victoria came to the throne, thus there's a considerable gap in time between her last novel and those of the early Victorians. Chronologically speaking, Austen is much better paired with Scott than with the Victorians (although Scott wrote well into the 1820's, if memory serves).
Posted by: Rob G | 06/22/2021 at 03:27 PM
Don't know much about the Brontes, so I looked up their dates on wikipedia. Interestingly enough, they were all born within three years of Austen's death in 1817. Definite generational difference there!
Posted by: Rob G | 06/22/2021 at 03:39 PM
Hey Rob, I guess I did have a general notion that Austen was before all of these others and closer to the end of the 18th century than to the Victorian writers. Reading her is certainly different, but then reading Laurence Sterne, Henry Fielding, and Jonathan Swift are not at all like Austen. Not sure where Sir Walter Scott falls in all of this. I wish I had been as interested a student while working on my English degree as I am as an adult!
Posted by: Stu | 06/22/2021 at 04:36 PM
I finished Emma last week and have a mostly-written post about it which I ran out of time to finish before other things intervened. I'll go ahead and post it soon, "finished" or not. Anyway, one of the things that really struck me about it was how 18th-c it seemed. I've never thought of her as a Victorian. Chronologically she's closer to the Romantics but certainly not one of them either. And although I enjoyed Emma I definitely feel some sympathy for Stu's view ("The insular teen-age female protagonist world of Jane Austen....."). I liked the two G Eliot novels I recently wrote about more.
Posted by: Mac | 06/22/2021 at 07:42 PM
As an undergrad I took a class called "Development of the English Novel." I can't remember who we started with (Richardson, maybe?) but Austen was second, followed by Dickens and Hardy, then on to the 20th century. The prof was quite insistent on the idea that Austen shouldn't be considered a Victorian, which is why that particular thing stuck with me. He also emphasized her humor, which is one of the main reasons I've always liked her.
I never got the "teenage girl" thing, but then my initial reading of Austen antedates the current manifestation of that phenomenon by quite a few years, and thus did not color my initial reading of her. I can't say I disagree with Stu's view; it's more that it simply doesn't register with me.
Posted by: Rob G | 06/23/2021 at 06:12 AM
I guess the "teenage girl" thing explains the appeal of an adaptation like Clueless, to both producers and audience.
Posted by: Mac | 06/23/2021 at 11:53 AM
Yeah, I'm going to have to watch it, I guess! I remember friends at the time saying it was smarter than it appeared, mainly in the writing, I take it. Maybe I should re-read Emma first though. It's been quite a while.
Posted by: Rob G | 06/23/2021 at 12:03 PM