Column: In celebration of Jane Austen


Nicole Fowles - Glad You Asked



This month, on July 18, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s passing. Though she died at the young age of 41, it was enough time to make her lasting literary impression on the world. Known primarily for “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Mansfield Park” and “Emma,” she also wrote two additional novels that were published posthumously and began another, but did not complete it before her death.

If you haven’t read Austen’s novels, you might have seen any of the many movies that have taken ideas from her work. A mini-series and a movie in 1995 brought “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility” to the big screen. But it was another 1995 movie called “Clueless” that retold the story of “Emma” in a way that only mid-90s fashion and pop culture could.

Authors have also been inspired by Austen’s novels in plenty of ways, from creating a counting primer (Jennifer Adams) to making the characters zombies (Seth Grahame-Smith).

Whatever way you enjoy your Austen, I hope you celebrate her life and contributions this month. Here are some other Austen parodies, retellings and histories you might enjoy.

“At Home in the World: Women Writers and Public Life, from Austen to the Present” by Maria Dibattista and Deborah Epstein Nord. The authors explore works by a wide range of writers, including canonical figures such as Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë; neglected or marginalized writers like Mary Antin and Martha Gellhorn; and recent and contemporary figures, including Jhumpa Lahiri to show how these women dramatize tensions between home and the wider world through recurrent themes.

“Cents and Sensibility: What Economists Can Learn from the Humanities” by Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro. Economists often act as if their methods explain all human behavior. But in this novel, an eminent literary critic and a leading economist make the case that the humanities, especially the study of literature, offer economists ways to make their models more realistic, their predictions more accurate, and their policies more effective and just.

“The Jane Austen Project” by Kathleen A Flynn. Sent from the future to meet, befriend, and steal an unpublished manuscript from Jane Austen, Rachel and Liam, who are posing as siblings, find themselves struggling with their assignment to leave history intact after they make the author’s acquaintance.

“Jane Austen, the Secret Radical” by Helena Kelly. An authority on Jane Austen invites readers to look deeper into the author’s work and see her true, subversive nature which brought to life radical subjects including slavery, poverty, feminism, the Church and evolution between the pages of her demure drawing rooms.

“A Useful Woman” by Darcie Wilde. Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, this new mystery series set in 19th-century London introduces the charming and resourceful Rosalind Thorne, a woman privy to the secrets of high society — including who among the ton is capable of murder.

“Heartstone” by Ella Katharine White. A debut historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved “Pride & Prejudice” in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms.

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Nicole Fowles

Glad You Asked

If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting the library’s web site at www.delawarelibrary.org or directly to Nicole at nfowles@delawarelibrary.org. No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!

If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting the library’s web site at www.delawarelibrary.org or directly to Nicole at nfowles@delawarelibrary.org. No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!