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Friday, October 31, 2014

Rediscovering Ms. Austen

I recently posted a link to this great article on my Facebook:

While I truly am looking forward to reading an updated Emma by one of my favorite contemporary authors, there's nothing quite like original Jane Austen. This spree I'm on of her novels has come about due to my mother somehow sharing her Audible app with me, so every book she downloads (read: pays for) appears on my device also for me to listen to (for free)! She happens to have bought all of Jane Austen's novels, and I had been wanting to reread Emma for a while anyway, so I thus began my journey into Austen's world. I started with Persuasion, upon my mother's recommendation, never having read it before. Next came Emma, then Sense and Sensibility, and now I'm just beginning Mansfield Park again new territory for me. I've been rather shocked realizing how many of her novels I'm unacquainted with! 

This glut of Austen has seen words like "approbation" creep into my vocabulary, which I find amusing. Her works are an interesting testament to the English language even though they were written about 200 years ago their language remains extremely accessible, because her English isn't all that different. Yea "approbation" may have gone out of style, and I'm still a bit fuzzy about what "sanguine" describes, but I chuckled when I heard "awkward" used it seems like such a modern word. (This isn't to say it's not a testament to her writing as well, because it certainly is. I read Wuthering Heights last spring, which was published decades later, and Ms. Bronte was unable to enthrall me, in large part because there were so many sentences that were so wholly unintelligible to this modern reader. Dickens as well wrote many years after Austen, yet his excessive language can't begin to compare with the clarity of hers.)

There is something so rewarding about listening to books on tape; I can expand my mind with great literature as I cook dinner, or pick up the apartment, or brave Casablanca taxi rides! Hearing a book read by an accomplished reader does wonders to make the story come alive and makes for a totally different experience. When I read to myself I do so quickly, and really too quickly, and end up missing out on details or discreet messages that the text holds. Othman and I had a conversation a while back about reading, and I realized that when I read I don't do a lot of work myself to make the characters come alive I don't give them voices, imagine them vividly, or even "hear" their tone of voice, pauses, gasps and the like as I read the words on the page. As I'm a huge reader I obviously have no issue with this, and it works for me, but maybe it explains my lack of patience for poorly written books, and why character development is such an important point for me I'm lazy and want the author to do all the work! Anyway, having an amazing reader, like the aforementioned Juliet Stevenson, makes the book seem almost like a movie for me. It's really the best of both worlds.

Audible Audiobooks Free Trial

For anyone reading this who hasn't picked up an Austen novel in ages (or ever), consider trying out the Audible app for free, and get one of her works as your first free bookmaking sure of the narratorand get ready to discover 18th century England like you've never seen (heard?) it before.

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