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The woman of pride

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THE WORKS: The novels move at a leisurely pace, but there is always an anticipation of things to come. Photo: K. Ananthan
THE WORKS: The novels move at a leisurely pace, but there is always an anticipation of things to come. Photo: K. Ananthan

ANIMA BALAKRISHNAN

A generation of filmmakers has gone back to the works of this writer who wrote only six novels in her brief lifetime.

Yet another movie has tried to capture the immortal love story on celluloid. The latest one to hit the screen has Matthew Macfadyen and the fiery Keira Knightley giving life to her Darcy and Elizabeth. Ever wondered how a novel written by a woman nearly a couple of centuries ago continues to enthral Generation Now?Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has pride of place in the hearts of readers and moviegoers alike. All those starry-eyed teenagers who read the novel knew their dream man would have to be like Darcy. About half a dozen movies and mini-series have been inspired by this masterpiece of Austen. And from legendary actors like Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson to current heart throbs Colin Firth and Keira Knightley, all have tried to interpret her Darcy and Elizabeth.Jane Austen died young (at the age of 41) and wrote only six novels - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. Yet all her novels have been made into movies and the likes of Emma and Sense and Sensibility have been adapted more than thrice. A generation of filmmakers has gone back to the works of this writer of early 19th Century for inspiration and each new adaptation has managed to arouse curiosity. And every book lover would at least have a couple of Austen's works on the shelf. These novels were written by a woman who led a relatively uneventful life. Reckon that should be reason enough for those in their early teens to take a little time off gizmos and computer games and get a peek into the world of Jane Austen.

The family

One of the seven children of a Rector, Austen began writing early. Though all her novels are primarily love stories, they are also a guide to the society of the times. She believed in writing about matters she was familiar with; so her novels are often set in the English countryside, address the issue of class or the prudery of the upper class as well as marriage. If you are looking for a breathtakingly racy novel replete with impossible incidents, stay away from Jane Austen. The novels often move at a leisurely pace, but there is always an anticipation of things to come; be it country balls, of misunderstandings or of grand weddings. It is what is left unsaid, the stolen glances, the ball dances and the letters that change the course of a story - herein lies the charm of her novels. Probably, the secret of Austen's success lies in the fact that she wrote of themes universal - of love, match making and marriage. The admirers of Austen are not merely the young; for there are quite a few mothers who identify with the plight of Mrs. Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) who leaves no stone unturned to get her five daughters married off.Though all Austen's works are love stories a strict moral decorum is maintained in them. The legend goes that the author took pains to hide her work from visitors. Since Austen did not have a study of her own, she sat and wrote in the parlour. Visitors were many and as soon as she saw a guest making way through to the parlour she would promptly hide her work in the desk.But, for someone who wrote at a time when women hardly enjoyed any rights, Austen's female protagonists are strong and dignified. Be it Elizabeth, Emma or Elinor, they were all women with a lot of inner strength and poise. So, to know more about the way of life that is beyond imagination and of love untainted, try Jane Austen!


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