Saturday, January 24, 2009

Like mentioned before, I have momentarily (or maybe completely, who knows) abandoned my fantasy reading kick. I have transfered to Austen. For now. At least until some more of my books that I'm waiting for at the library come in.

I decided to not just do what I have always done, and not just re-read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. (Okay, I did re-read them, but I didn't just stop there.)

I decided to read some of Austen's books that I just couldn't get through the last time I tried.

So I started with the other one I had on my shelf: Emma.

And I was reminded why I haven't actually ever finished Emma. The book, despite having all the period charm of Austen and a wonderful insight into the culture and roles of men and women at the time, is just plain boring.

Every other book of Austen's that I've read was compelling. There is something to keep you reading until the end of the book. Two lovers, torn about by circumstance, family, or society: Will they end up together? Two completely different people, alone in the world: Could they ever end up together? An individual, kept down by society: Could they ever find happiness?

But there was no drama to Emma. I felt that the entire book was a description of what happens when wealthy people have too little useful employment on their hands, and therefore fill their time meddling in the affairs of other people. Of course, nothing positive could ever result from the interference.

Emma, a beautiful, wealthy, socially connected women, has no serious activity to occupy her, so she need to arrange the lives of those around her. And it is worse than that. She is positively the worst individual at reading personalities, ambitions, or desires in other people. She prides herself of being insightful and observant, but is wrong every single time. She doesn't even have enough insight to recognize her feelings towards other people.

The only person in the book who is likable at all is Mr. Knightley, who is generous, thoughtful, and truly observant (as his views on people tend to be right.) I like him a great deal, and actually feel sorry that he ended up with Emma, and not Jane Fairfax, who is probably the only truly sensible, intelligent female in the book.

The book is lighthearted enough, but lacks any true substance that would entice me to read it a second time. My heartfelt apologies to Jane Austen, my literary heroine, for being so critical of her work.


ithappenedinthekitchen said...

When I read Emma, it too reminded me of someone who was meddlesome in affairs that did not concern them. It reminded me of some bad traits I still have to some degree. But I have a sister who LOVED it 'because it was just like her'... so that kind of sums up why I'm laughing right now:)