Austenism: Novels are good

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid”

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, C 14

Austenism: Life Advice From Jane Austen

This might be more of an observation than advice per se, but we can extrapolate some useful advice from it.

To be fair some people don’t possess the ability to create images in their mind so reading isn’t as enjoyable for them, but that’s the important point. Reading. Should. Be Fun.

Austen would probably laugh how her books are seen as Classic Literature and some consider them High Brow. She wasn’t writing for the elite or the academics. Her first audience was her family and famously an elderly hard on her luck neighbour, Miss Benn, who had no idea the author of Pride and Prejudice was reading her the novel.

Austen may be trying to say several things here:

  1. Don’t gatekeep
  2. Don’t yuck other people’s yum
  3. Associate with people who share similar values

1. Don’t Gatekeep

Fandoms are well known for trying to keep all but the purists out. Austen is literally for everyone btw, she’s well out of copyright. It might be difficult to hear someone say they love Austen when they’ve only seen the movies, let them. Austen is not only for people who can quote pieces of her novels or discuss intimate aspects of characters as if they’re real people (both of which I can do). If you don’t allow anyone in, how else will new people find something that brings you so much joy?

2. Don’t Yuck Other People’s Yum

Let’s be fair this is exactly what John Thorpe is doing. He thinks he’s superior to Catherine and must “neg” her as a flirting tactic. Catherine likes gothic novels, good for her! In a couple of chapters she’ll admit this with shame to Henry who accepts it. If she’d gone around believing what John Thorpe said (which we never should) she would have been miserable and hiding her delight. Allow people to like what they like, it’s not hurting you.

3. Associate With People Who Share Similar Values

If books are important to you, hang out with others who feel the same…just not those judgy ones who think everything has to be “literature” and turn their nose up at some good smut. Unless, of course, you’re one of them, in which case – find your people! (I’m not one of them)

If you’d like to discuss Austen with me you can book a Read With Me session