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

By William Deresiewicz

An eloquent memoir of a tender man's existence remodeled by means of literature.

In A Jane Austen Education, Austen pupil William Deresiewicz turns to the author's novels to bare the notable existence classes hidden inside. With humor and candor, Deresiewicz employs his personal studies to illustrate the long-lasting strength of Austen's teachings. Progressing from his days as an immature pupil to a fortunately married guy, Deresiewicz's A Jane Austen Education is the tale of 1 man's discovery of the realm open air himself.

A self-styled highbrow insurgent devoted to writers similar to James Joyce and Joseph Conrad, Deresiewicz by no means inspiration Austen's novels may have something to supply him. but if he was once assigned to learn Emma as a graduate scholar at Columbia, anything outstanding occurred. Austen's devotion to the standard, and her trust within the price of standard lives, ignited whatever in Deresiewicz. He begun viewing the area via Austen's eyes and treating these round him as generously as Austen taken care of her characters. alongside the way in which, Deresiewicz used to be surprised to find that the folk in his existence constructed the intensity and richness of literary characters-that his personal existence had all of sudden bought all of the fascination of a unique. His genuine schooling had ultimately all started.

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 know about friendship and feeling, staying younger and being strong, and, in fact, love. As they develop up, they research classes which are imparted to Austen's reader, who learns and grows by way of their aspects.

A Jane Austen Education is a testomony to the transformative energy of literature, a party of Austen's mastery, and a pleasure to learn. no matter if for a newcomer to Austen or a lifelong devotee, Deresiewicz brings clean insights to the novelist and her loved works. finally, 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

The novel’s original title had been First Impressions. Eliza­ beth was not prejudiced in the modern sense of the word. She didn’t judge people before she met them, because of the group they belonged to. She judged them the moment she met them, because she thought she could already tell everything about them. “First impressions”: it seemed to me now that the phrase did double duty. It referred to the heroine’s tendency to jump to conclusions, and it also pointed to ours, as we put ourselves in her place.

I wasn’t Stephen Dedalus or Conrad’s Marlow. I was Emma. I was Jane Fairfax. I was Miss Bates. I wasn’t a rebel, I was a fool. I wasn’t floating in splendid isola­ tion a million miles above the herd. I was part of the herd. I was a regular person, after all. Which means, I was a person. If I started to take my life seriously for the first time, I also started to take the world seriously. Again, I would have been surprised at the idea that I didn’t already take it very seriously indeed. Hadn’t I always worried about the big issues—politics, social justice, the future?

Reading Emma, being asked to take the lives of characters like Harriet Smith and Jane Fairfax as seriously as they did themselves— not the exciting lives of heroes and heroines, which were so emma | E V E R Y D AY M AT T E R S 33 enjoyable to identify with, or the glamorous lives of celebrities, which were so much fun to read about, or the impressive lives of whatever big shots I happened to be remotely acquainted with, which made me feel so important, but the everyday lives of ordinary people, which matter for the sole reason that they are lives—made me finally begin to take my own life seriously.

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