Happy birthday, Jane Austen!

Jane Austen

On this day, 242 years ago (more precisely – in 1775), a remarkable woman was born. Jane Austen was one-of-a-kind tenant of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

How many women writers from the 18th century have you heard of? Not many, if any, and we don’t even have to delve into explanations.

These days, women get to do whatever they want (and this isn’t a complaint!) and they don’t have to face doom for it (mostly). Still, they are often being judged (that’s why those brackets above were needed). If you’re a woman and you don’t want to get married, well, that is considered a wee bit strange, or even a life failure. Imagine how weird that was back in the 18th century. So hats off to Jane Austen for her braveness. She was a writer who never got married – even though marriage was the most pervasive topic of her literary opus.

Her education also distinguished her from other ladies because Jane had an above-average education, compared to her peers.

Jane Austen’s love novels were successful, but people actually didn’t know they were hers because there wasn’t her signature on them. What appealed mostly to her audience were probably the intense emotions that drove the actions of her heroes and, most frequently, heroines. Those powerful feelings got people in trouble, but the damsels in distress… ehem, people who get in trouble because of their feelings are the most interesting ones anyway, right?

That’s why people still read her novels. Their emotions and troubles are still trendy. Marriage is still trendy in our societies, as well as in-depth opposition to the conventions bound to it that is inherent to so many women. (That girl from Kensington left high school to marry some 40-year old opium-eating loser. She already carries twins! Her father still shakes with rage, and her fiance, Mr Pym, had to flee abroad and escape the disgrace. Can you imagine??!)

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Pride and Prejudice is full of passion and struggle. All these elements made this book a classic. Even negative criticism hasn’t killed Jane’s work. We still read about the characters of women with unique personalities who have chosen the tougher way through life – the way of their conflicted sensibility. The easy road – to find a rich husband and get married – doesn’t suit Jane’s characters. It didn’t suit her either.

And even though the recent Lucy Worsley’s thesis that Jane was probably a lesbian is a bit far-fetched, we still recommend you to take a look at her documentary.

And thank you, Jane, for being brave.

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