If she hadn't existed we'd have to invent her
This commonplace sentence came to my mind as I was reading about a new theory regarding the death of the famous English author, Jane Austen.
The piece of news in itself held no real interest for me. It just made me think that up till now I haven’t written anything on this superb writer who if she hadn’t existed, we’d have to invent her. So useful, so absolutely necessary is Jane Austen to all women, and why not, to all men, of the world.
Ever since the beginning of the 19th century when her books were published, her sentimental, social novels have never ceased to be read and to be loved by millions of readers around the globe.
In her «Pride and Prejudice» that has met with thousands of editions and translations, with many cinema and television adaptations, we are introduced to the brave Elizabeth or Lizzy who, we suppose, is the alter ego of the author herself.
Mr. Darcy who in the beginning seems conceited and snobbish, is soon to become in the eyes of every woman reader the ideal man. Not so much due to his large fortune but thanks to his honest, straightforward character and his affection towards the woman he falls in love with.
Mr. Darcy can take the external characteristics which every woman would like to attribute to him depending on her tastes. Of course recently his face corresponds to that of actor Colin Firth from the very successful BBC series.
Apart from his looks, however, Mr. Darcy maintains the manly virtues that the majority of women is looking for, often in vain, in a “real man”: earnestness, nerve, self-restraint, few words. And loyalty, affection, chivalry towards women.
It seems that Jane Austen, herself, had been waiting for such a man to appear in her life, that’s why she rejected a marriage proposal from someone who was able to offer her the financial security she needed. Still, she wasn’t attracted to him. This is the reason why, in a letter to her niece, she urged her not to proceed to a commitment without love. «Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without Affection", she wrote.
Jane Austen never married, nor did her sister, Cassandra, who was also her best friend. She left her books to the world, full of pleasant plots, of acute observations on the human nature and a sense of humour that three centuries later continues to appeal to us. The Brontë sisters described the gloomy landscape of their moors while Jane Austen depicts through her work more pleasant surroundings and a life that seems to have been more sociable and happy. The beautiful city of Bath, the evening parties with dancing, music and charades, the light-hearted conversation, all these are ingredients that make her novels still to be read by some almost fanatically. And they give inspiration to new books like “Pride and Prejudice and the Zombies” or “The Jane Austen Book Club” etc.
Yes, three centuries later Jane Austen is still young…
First published on 17.11.11