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Re-reading Jane Austen

It was a full house at the British Council Library as literature fans of all ages, from college students to senior citizens, gathered to mark the 200th death anniversary of Jane Austen.

"The Sensibility of Jane Austen", organised by Toto Funds the Arts and the British Council Library, unpacked the life and times of this path-breaking 18th century writer and her panoply of immortal characters through a panel discussion and a reading of excerpts from her novels.

Poet Poorna Swami and English professor Dr Cheriyan Alexander of St Joseph's College described how they first encountered Jane Austen's novels, and singled out "Emma" as their favourite. They discussed Austen's style and themes and commented on her characteristic irony, acute powers of observation, and social criticism. Among the modern writers whom they felt had the Austen touch, Ms Swami mentioned Elena Ferrante, and Dr Alexander, Zadie Smith. They re-visited Austen's memorable heroines – the Dashwood sisters, Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Watson, Anne Elliot and Catherine Morland – and also the delightful array of minor characters whom, as an audience member remarked, “We instantly recognise because we have them within our own families.”

Actors Lekha Naidu and Nakul Bhalla brought Austen's characters to life by reading passages from the ever popular "Pride and Prejudice", "Sense and Sensibility", "Emma", "Mansfield Park" and "Persuasion". The conversation between Mr and Mrs Bennet after Elizabeth refused Mr Collins' proposal had the audience in splits.

TFA Chairperson and writer C.K. Meena, who moderated the discussion, also rendered a potted biography of the author and a timeline of the Georgian era, suggesting how her personal life and views and social ethos were reflected in her work.


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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 3:28:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/re-reading-jane-austen/article19450715.ece

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