Monday, September 20, 2010

Weekend Installment #2 - Austen vs Eliot

I have been waiting until after book club this week to post about Middlemarch by George Eliot, because I did not want to "give away" too much of my thoughts on it prior to the meeting. But, now that I am reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, I cannot help but comment on both.

When I started reading Middlemarch, I almost immediately labelled it George Eliot "a smarter Jane Austen", which apparently is a common response. However, now that I am reading Jane Austen again I am not quite sure the description fits, or the comparison fits. At first glance, the comparison is only natural. They both are female authors (George Eliot is a pseudonym) writing about a similar time period. Books by both authors are greatly concerned with marriages, livings, dowries, fortunes, and love. George Eliot offers a detailed and rich portrayal that so clearly mimics the complexities of human behavior that it is quite disarming. In contrast, many if not most of Jane Austen's characters are caricatures rather than characters, parodying the archetypes and flaws that made a women's life in her time so insufferable. I am not a scholar, but I would hazard to guess that most of Jane Austen's books were actually making fun of the people who read them, frequently I would imagine without the readers knowledge.

And why this soliloquy? I have embarked on a Jane Austen fest. There are some authors who I just get into for periods of time in all of their varieties and exploits. The obvious examples are Stephanie Meyer/Twilight and JK Rowling/Harry Potter. I will start reading one, or see a movie from one, and all of the sudden will want to read, reread, watch, and re watch everything they have. Well, my current audio book as mentioned is Mansfield Park. That lead me to re-watch Pride and Prejudice Friday night (the Kiera Knightley version), which lead me to pick up Emma (BBC version), and Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson version), from the library, which I also watched over the weekend.

I am thinking that perhaps I will see if there is a BBC of Middlemarch next.

That is my musings on Jane Austen and George Eliot for the day. I think it might segway nicely into my next intended post about cancelling cable...

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