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Posts Tagged ‘satire’

There’s nothing like gift cards for the shopaholic on a budget. Most recently I finished off a Barnes and Noble gift card by buying a book of Jane Austen’s early writings, Love and Freindship (sic). They say not to judge a book by its cover, but I buy old books because of their covers (and sometimes because of their content). So I am not too ashamed to admit that I chose this edition because it has a bright pink cover with silver engraved lettering, and features a photo of an intriguing stack of letters bound with pink ribbon on the front.

Jane Austen was the daughter of an English minister, and published her books at a time in history when strict morality was beginning to dominate the culture. The world she grew up in was more licentious, especially in their fiction. The contrast between the media culture and the home values in which she was raised likely produced these short exercises in literary skill originally intended for only her family. Jane Austen’s family had no desire to publish the early writings while two of her novels were yet to be published, and when her popularity had grown enough that more was demanded, the family thought it best to protect the virtuous reputation of the unmarried aunt who wrote narrative so effectively defending a high estimation of marital fidelity, for example.
At last in the 21st Century the relations entrusted with these precious papers have allowed them to be viewed and published. The collection I had the delight of reading was to my interpretation a hyperbolic commentary on the novels available for reading when she was a girl. Filled with the most ridiculous excesses, sensibilities, faintings, betrayals, coincidences, and disrespect, Jane Austen looked at these glorifications of wickedness and saw through the gripping fiction and luxurious settings to the message, and through her own parodies emphasized the motives and opinions of popular characters, revealing them to any person in her day with common understanding as outrageous and harmful.
This perception, and perhaps disdain for the original novels defining the romantic genre no doubt shaped the type of story and novel she wanted to write, the intelligent, realistic characters she wanted to share with the world. Without these excursions as a very young lady into the worldview of popular authors, could we have the epic sketches of human nature effectively drawn by Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion?
Jane Austen wrote in pre-Victorian times. Since her death the morality of the Western World has both sharpened (through the Great Revivals) and then declined. At this point in history, when our books, TV, videos, and music are once again filled with perversion and irreverence, Love and Freindship is more relevant than ever. Just as with her great and complete works, Jane Austen has proven that even her young insights are continually relevant. I would hope that all conisseurs of modern media would take a considerate look at Love and Freindship, listening for the disguised warning it gives against the loose behavior promoted in literature and film in her time and again today.
To God be all glory.

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