Eudora Welty singles out for praise Austen's "habit of seeing both sides of her own subject - of seeing it indeed in the round". ... Both men and women can be vain about their appearances, selfish about money, overawed by rank, and limited by parochialism; both men and women can function capably, think profoundly, feel deeply, create imaginatively, laugh wittily, and love faithfully. Without vindicating the rights of anyone directly, Austen posits a humanism far ahead of her time. "How really modern she is, after all," Welty concludes of Austen.
How to explain the sheer tingling joy one experiences when two interesting, complex, and occasionally aggravating characters have at last settled their misunderstandings and will live happily ever after, no matter what travails life might throw in their path, because Jane Austen said they will, and that's that? How to describe the exhilaration of being caught up in an unknown but glamorous world of balls and gowns and rides in open carriages with handsome young men? How to explain that the best part of Jane Austen's world is that sudden recognition that the characters are just like you?
You know, there was a time when childbirth was possibly the most terrifying thing you could do in your life, and you were literally looking death in the face when you went ahead with it. And so this is a kind of flashback to a time when that's what every woman went through. Not that they got ripped apart, but they had no guarantees about whether they were going to live through it or not. You know, I recently read - and I don't read nonfiction, generally - Becoming Jane Austen. That's the one subject that would get me to go out and read nonfiction. And the author's conclusion was that one of the reason's Jane Austen might not have married when she did have the opportunity...well, she watched her very dear nieces and friends die in childbirth! And it was like a death sentence: You get married and you will have children. You have children and you will die. (Laughs) I mean, it was a terrifying world.
Lucy gripped her chilled glass of orange and raspberry juice. When Rebecca talked about Austen, she’d mostly mentioned Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley. She hadn’t really thought of the doe-eyed, pale-skinned heroines. On the screen, Anne Elliot walked down a long hallway, glancing just once at covered paintings, her mouth a grim line. Lucy thought Jane Austen would start the story with the romance, or the loss of it, but instead the tale seemed to begin with Anne’s home, and having to make difficult decisions. Maybe this writer from over two hundred years ago knew how everything important met at the intersection of family, home, love, and loss. This was something Lucy understood with every fiber of her being.
Allegra's Austen wrote about the impact of financial need on the intimate lives of women. If she'd worked in a bookstore, Allegra would have shelved Austen in the horror section.
When the evening was over, Anne could not but be amused at the idea of her coming to Lyme, to preach patience and resignation to a young man whom she had never seen before; nor could she help fearing, on more serious reflection, that, like many other great moralists and preachers, she had been eloquent on a point in which her own conduct would ill bear examination.
Anne did think on the question with perfect decision, and said as much in replay as her own feelings could accomplish, or as his seemed able to bear, for he was too much affected to renew the subject - and when he spoke again, it was something totally different.
I would self-medicate with fat, carbohydrates, and Jane Austen, my number one drug of choice, my constant companion through every breakup, every disappointment, every crisis. Men might come and go, but Jane Austen was always there in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, till death do us part.
It's a truth universally acknowledged...
The conversation soon turned upon fishing, and she heard Mr. Darcy invite him, with the greatest civility, to fish there as often as he chose while he continued in the neighbourhood, offering at the same time to supply him with fishing tackle, and pointing out those parts of the stream where there was usually most sport. Mrs. Gardiner, who was walking arm in arm with Elizabeth, gave her a look expressive of her wonder. Elizabeth said nothing, but it gratified her exceedingly; the compliment must be all for herself. Her astonishment, however, was extreme; and continually was she repeating, "Why is he so altered? From what can it proceed? It cannot be for me, it cannot be for my sake that his manners are thus softened. My reproofs at Hunsford could not work such a change as this. It is impossible that he should still love me.