Jane Austen’s Persuasion

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No, it was not regret which made Anne’s heart beat in spite of herself, and brought color into her cheeks when she thought of Captain Wentworth unshackled and free. She had some feelings which she was ashamed to investigate. They were too much like joy, senseless joy!

I’ve always felt that I have to hand it to Jane Austen for achieving rock star status some 200 years after publishing her work. Her novel Pride and Prejudice introduced me to her close to two decades ago. When I flip through the copy that I read, I see that I was still writing in books. Numerous times I would put a “Ha!” next to a sentence or section that I found humorous. A few times, I even put a “Ha! Ha!”

Little did I know that years later, my teenage daughters (at my wife’s suggestion) would read that same copy. They find it funny that I wrote all those Ha!’s. I think it was before the days of “LOL”.

I could see the proverbial twinkle in Jane Austen’s eye as I read Pride and Prejudice. I’m probably the only person that would compare Jane Austen to Kurt Vonnegut but Vonnegut has that same twinkle in his writing.

Now all of these years later, I’ve finally gotten around to reading Jane Austen again. This time it’s her final novel Persuasion which I have heard many in the blogosphere, in addition to my wife, say is their favorite and/or Austen’s best work.

Persuasion has more of a maturity about it than Pride and Prejudice while keeping with the same themes. Money, social status, and who will get married and why all still play into the plot. Throughout the novel, the word “persuasion” is used frequently to describe the influence various characters have over others in regards to the above list. The romance of Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth is a much longer process than that of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. It’s this length of time that might make this story the more realistic.

Yes, it’s realistic, mature and beautifully written with well developed characters; however, I didn’t find that same eye-twinkle in Persuasion that I did in Pride and Prejudice. That’s alright – not all great novels have to have humor. And I would consider Persuasion great.

 

 

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6 responses to “Jane Austen’s Persuasion

  1. I love the comparison of Austen to Vonnegut. Persuasion, dear to me, is a story of wish fulfillment, a spinster’s imaginings of a second chance at love. Too bad Jane never had the opportunity for late life love. At least she could give it to her creation.

    • Very powerful idea, Nancy, of Jane being able to give love to her creation. Thanks for stopping by. I’m not sure when, but I know I’m not going to wait as long to read my next Austen novel. I know at least Mansfield Park is sitting on my shelf. I’m pretty sure some others are, too.

  2. I write “Ha!” throughout my books too! I’m sure my Austens are covered in has. They often get an “ha again” when I reread. (So Future Me will know I was still amused.) 🙂 Austen’s Emma, Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility have the sparkle. But if you want the biggest spark of all, read “Love and Friendship” — written when she was sixteen to entertain her family. It’s quite short.

    Mansfield Park is her masterpiece, I think — although Pride and Prejudice is also a masterpiece. (And my personal favorite is Sense and Sensibility.) Mansfield Park doesn’t have the spark found in P&P: it has razor sharp intelligence though. I read it alongside the play that is at its center: Lovers’ Vows by August von Kotzebue – translated from German by Elizabeth Inchbald (1798). You might try that when you read it. She’s basically offering a rebuttal. Cheers!

    • Thanks, Jillian! You are making me excited to read more of Austen’s work. I do like her humor, but I also like her intelligence, writing style and her just plain good stories. I didn’t laugh as much at Persuasion except maybe when Louisa fell – but after her long recovery I thought maybe I wasn’t suppose to laugh at that. I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who writes “Ha’s” in their books!

  3. You know, probably my favorite thing about Austen’s writing is what you referred to as her twinkle — she makes me laugh aloud So Much. In fact, that’s part of why Mansfield Park is my least favorite of her novels — it never makes me laugh at all. But Persuasion is my most favorite, and it doesn’t make me laugh as much as P&P, NA, Emma, or even S&S. But it does still make me chuckle (especially Mr. Elliot), while at the same time having more characters that I genuinely like, which is probably why it’s my favorite.

    • I enjoyed the characters in Persuasion, too. It made me want to read more of Austen’s work. I’m pretty sure Emma, S&S, NA and Mansfield Park are all on our shelf somewhere.

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