Another defense of Jane


Al at Synaptic Blue also has noticed the backlash against Jane Austen recently, and makes an eloquent defense against critics who say, for instance, that she didn’t write about the Napoleonic wars.

But for the critics who lament the absence of war, do they not realize that with every war, hundreds of years go by, and few people really care about the outcome, or can remember what it was all about. But the truths about human nature and society in the novels of Austen and others are even more relevant today than at the time they first knew publication. Characters and story lines never lose their complexity, and well written and well formulated humor and pathos will always be exactly what they are; funny and dramatic.

[. . .]

In my mind, Austen was not writing about misplaced and irrelevant issues, she was just simply very shrewd in her choice of subject. True, her novels were largely only about romantic love and family life. Interestingly, two of the few things that haven’t, to any great degree, really changed since she was alive. Both of these snippets of human experience still absorb us in equal measure. If Jane Austen had written detailed accounts of the Napoleonic Wars, I’m confident a large number of people would have never read her books.

Yep. The novels are about human nature, not so much period pieces. That’s why we’re still reading them 200 years later.