Tuesday, July 18, 2017

200 Years of Jane Austen Legacy



200 years ago, on July 18, 1817, the most beloved romance author possibly of all time passed away.

She left behind her six completed novels, two of which were still unpublished. In the two hundred years since then, a plethora of book editions, movies, and Jane Austen paraphernalia has been created. While Austen never married herself, she peopled her literary world with characters that have never left our consciousness. She is forever fixed as an enduring classic.

I first became acquainted with her when I was a young thing. Every Sunday night we would pop popcorn, and us little kids would sit on bean bags a family friend made while we ate supper and had a movie night. My parents brought out the Pride and Prejudice set back when we watched VHS tapes. I met my second Jane Austen movie, Sense and Sensibility, when my dad and brother took a day trip to Chicago. Since the youngest sister was still taking naps at the time, my mom got out that movie and I met Eleanor and Marianne. It was the beginning of a Jane Austen appreciation that hasn't ended since. Our family has seen almost all of the more recent Jane Austen movies (except the extremely iffy 1990s Mansfield Park, and the two Northanger Abbyes). They've left an undeniable fingerprint on our lives, and quotes from each adaptation are embroidered permanently into our vocabulary.

Watching the movies (I should read the books more, but I don't) has given us so many impromptu lunchtime discussions about life and personalities.We've debated over which of her villains was the worst, laughed countless times at Mr. Collin's proposal, and tried to imitate his wave to Charlotte in the Collin Firth P&P. I've taken the character quizzes (always gotten Eleanor Dashwood) growled in wrath over the horrible jabs of Lucy Ferrars, and even recently, thought about the ins and outs of Elizabeth Bennett's relationship with Wickham (that's a blog post for another time).

We've listened to the soundtracks, taken a Jane Austen movie & costumes class, and curled up with the movies countless times for rewatching when we're tired and want something to relax with. If I had to choose her favorite novels, I think I would automatically go for Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey--but if I had to choose the novel that tugs my heartstrings, it would definitely be Sense and Sensibility. The credits music to the 2007 Sense and Sensibility will forever be dear to my heart.

She is a lady I would have loved to be friends with. I can't write like her to save my life, and I honestly don't know a lot about her personal life. But our whole family has been enriched by her fictional legacy, and I'm so glad that God gifted the world of British literature with her stories.

What's your favorite Jane Austen story/movie/moment in the films? 

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