Reading, and Not Reading, the Classics

In a delightfully amusing article on Examiner.com, Chicago Book Examiner Michelle Kerns skewers “10 books I should love…but for some reason, I hate.” Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, the least popular of her novels, makes the list. Kerns admits that she actually likes the bad girl, Mary Crawford, better than the spineless heroine, Fanny Price. (I agree—while I sympathize with Fanny, I find her priggish and boring. For that matter, I find Edmund boring as well. He’s like Mr. Knightley without the charm and sense of humor.)

New York Book Examiner Katie Henderson picks up on the theme with “The Books I Should Have Loved,” old and modern classics that in her opinion aren’t half as wonderful as we’re supposed to think they are. She leads off with Mansfield Park, and her dislike of the “preachy, uptight” Fanny Price.

What do you think, Austen fans? Does Mansfield Park deserve the thrashing?

What About Mr. Almost Right?

Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) woos Marianne Dashwood (Kate WInslet) in "Sense and Sensibility."

Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) woos Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet) in “Sense and Sensibility.”

It’s the sort of dilemma Jane Austen would have appreciated. A 38-year-woman writes in the Daily Mail in the UK that she is contemplating Settling for Mr. Not Quite Right rather than being alone, and wonders if she is doing the right thing.

“The vast majority of us have been conditioned to crave the dream of falling in love, marrying The One and living happily ever after,” writes Lucy Taylor. “It has taken me 38 years to wake up to the fact that this is just a dream.”

Perhaps, she muses, the practical view of marriage taken in “The Dark Ages” (including Jane Austen’s era) wasn’t that far off the mark. People married to better their position in society, support themselves and their families, and give a home to the children they hoped to have. Many marriages were arranged by the families, as they still are today in many cultures.

It’s a thought-provoking piece (I do wonder if her boyfriend read it, and how he feels about it). Despite having been in love three or four times and married twice (#2 is going on 24 years), I wouldn’t dream of advising someone like Ms. Taylor. Every woman has to figure out these things for herself.

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