Monday, August 21, 2006

books: Persuasion by Jane Austen

I've read and enjoyed a few books from the Spice Girls of British lit, Charlotte and Emily Brontë and George Eliot, but nothing by Jane Austen. So I enjoyed Clueless (best adaptation ever?), Sense and Sensibility (I would have shot my TV if Emma Thompson had not won an Oscar for her screenplay), and many other movies and series tailored from her novels, without comparison to the originals.

I finally read one, Persuasion. Wow. So perfectly droll, so deftly sketched. She puts simple ideas about her characters in your head, then in later asides touches on them and you burst out laughing. She's not setting up punchlines that whack you over the head, she's planting seeds that flower at her touch for effortless hilarity or emotional richness. For example, after the superficial Sir Walter rents Kellynch Hall, his tenant remarks
I have done very little besides sending away some of the large
looking-glasses from my dressing-room
some. Jane, you crack me up! And this masterpiece is out of copyright hell, so you can read it for free online and in various open e-book formats.

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