Lebowitz: Jane Austen is popular because she is misread and misunderstood

I seem to be in (yet another) Jane Austen kick these days.

Author and Vanity Fair contributing editor Fran Lebowitz on Jane Austen (via Survival of the Book):

[vimeo id=8100960]

One thing Lebowitz says is that most people who enjoy Jane Austen are misreading her. What do you think about this? Some of the points she makes are pretty valid–I would agree that most people like the romance aspect of her works–but I’m not sure that reading it this way is “misreading” or “misunderstanding” her work. Can’t an author mean to write more than one thing when they are constructing a novel? I’m sure in Austen’s own time, many people saw her books as romance novels as well.

Another statement she makes is that Jane Austen is talented at portraying irony (which I don’t think can be disputed) and that British writers usually do irony a lot better than Americans. She argues that this is because irony goes against the American ideal of optimism. I think this is an interesting point.

Any thoughts?

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4 Responses to Lebowitz: Jane Austen is popular because she is misread and misunderstood

  1. Pingback: Amitha S. J. Knight

  2. I just read an article on Salon.com about Austen’s appeal – and I think, to some extent, Lebowitz is right. The very romantic movie adaptations have made P&P very popular; the number of sequels and ever-increasing fan fic is a evidence enough. That said, there’s nothing wrong with readers bringing their own likes and dislikes to the table. Part of the agreement between author, reader, and publisher is that words are open to interpretation. Moreover, a good writer tries to tie in to a reader’s personal experience – Austen’s ongoing popularity, and discussions such as these, are really just testaments to her skill.

  3. Pingback: Amitha S. J. Knight

  4. Drewsifer says:

    Ick! Warhol hanger-on. Who cares what she has to say?

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