A Jane Austen Education: A Male Perspective
By Sally Costa on June 07, 2011
Admittedly, I have always considered Jane Austen to be a writer for women. In college, while reading several of her works, I seem to recall many of my male peers grumbling through the pages of said works, while I, seemed transfixed by them. That’s why, when given the opportunity to read William Deresiewicz's A Jane Austen Education, a man’s perspective on life lessons learned through Jane Austen’s novels, I jumped at the chance.
At the beginning of A Jane Austen Education, I believed that William Deresiewicz was going to prove me right about my theory, as he humorously quoted Austen hater, Mark Twain, who said that her novels made him want to “dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shinbone.” But then, Deresiewicz totally surprised me as he eloquently dissected Austen’s novels and related them to his own life’s experiences and relationships.
Through Deresiewicz’s eyes, I was able to interpret Jane Austen’s novels like I’d never done so before. This “male” viewpoint encouraged me to learn things such as -- regardless of gender, we all have insecurities and we all love in the same way (Sense and Sensibility). Also, no matter who you are or what’s going on in your ridiculously busy life, there is nothing more important than living in the moment (Emma).
Perhaps the greatest lesson that I learned from Deresiewicz’s interpretation of Austen is that the mistakes that I’ve made in the past have shaped me into the person that I am in the present (Pride and Prejudice). They’ve allowed me to grow into my individual self and should be looked at as life lessons, NOT regrets. Mistakes are inevitable. Change is inevitable. If I’m going to evolve as a human being, I need to accept that.
I truly enjoyed William Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education. Reintroducing myself to Jane Austen’s works and experiencing their themes through a male viewpoint, made it an exceptionally interesting read that I would recommend to all who’ve read or who are going to read any of Jane Austen’s novels. For me, Deresiewicz’s ability to gain insight into Jane Austen’s mind as a writer AND as a woman, really made this book come alive.
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