Jane Austen was born on December 16th, 1775, at Steventon Rectory, Hampshire, the youngest of seven children of Rev. George Austen. Her life was that of a placid spinster lady of the upper middle-class of 18th century England with no extraordinary events, concluded by her death at the age of 42, on July 18th, 1817. And she is one of the most celebrated authors of the English language. Strange, isn’t it?
She was very precocious and not at all eager for fame as is evident by the gap of no. of years between the completion of her compositions and their publication. For example, the masterpiece “Pride and Prejudice” was first written by her in 1796 (as First Impressions” but not published in a revised form until 1813. The summary of her completed works is as below:
1. Sense and Sensibility (Published in 1811)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Published in 1813)
3. Mansfield Park (Published in 1814)
4. Emma (Published in 1816)
5. Northanger Abbey (Published in 1818 posthumously)
6. Persuasion (Published in 1818 posthumously)
A few unfinished works in manuscripts were found after her death and were published namely, “Lady Susan”, “The Watsons” and “Sandition”.
The above-mentioned description of her simple life leads us to wonder and exclaim in astonishment that such a polished writing as was hers, full of wit and wisdom could come from so commonplace a source; that a genius of her calibre was satisfied with the humdrum occupations and rustic company supplied by a quiet country life. It is intriguing to imagine that her sophisticated masterpieces were written by her in a common drawing-room surrounded by her family and so often interrupted by visitors. But hough her isolation seems complete, she had unique compensations for this as well in form of growing up in midst of his father’s pupil and inheriting the culture of the classic technique and a respect for style of most distinguished authors before her.
Her popularity always raises questions like: what is it that makes a reader feel as much pleasure in reading a familiar Jane Austen novel over and over again as he/she would in a new one? Why is she a favourite amongst artists and the masses equally? The answer is: Because whatever she has written, she has done it to perfection. And one of the biggest reasons for her perfection is that she wrote of what she knew, and only of what she knew. She never invented an exciting imaginary world or characters for her work, neither she chose to write about the contemporary world that was out of her sphere. She was a realist who liked to write sentimental and romantic comedies. She always composed a straight-forward love-story, with characters displaying her love for sense and wisdom and her hatred for all meanness and hypocrisy, always expressing themselves in a light, witty and satiric language, concluding with wedding bells. She picked up her characters from surroundings that were familiar to her, where she could be as certain about the circumstantial detailing and background as she could be with her psychological analysis.
It can be said that Jane Austen, in one sense was out of contact with her age: she was unaffected by the great revolutionary currents of thought and enthusiasm which swept through almost all the geniuses of her time. In other sense, she is in contact with all the ages: she as much belongs to our time as she would have belonged to the late 18th century England. She had unique powers of observation and criticism with which she observed her surroundings with causticity and amusement where pretentious stupidity was to be seen and with admiration for pure, kindly and simple natures.
She never wasted her energy in descriptions; she rather shows us characters in action instead of describing them. A Jane Austen work holds the reader right from the start with her bright and tidy introductions and introduces him/her to a circle of people talking in an amusing manner. She has created for us hundreds of individuals, quiet and loquacious, in such a manner that we can imagine for ourselves all those parts of their lives which she did not show us. It is not possible to feel the loss that her early death has caused to all her fans depriving them of a few more stories that would have made the world brighter and more cheerful than it is.
So, this week, we are going to take you on a tour of the Jane Austen world. If you are a Jane Austen fan, You will definitely enjoy visiting her world back, if you are not, you are bound to become one, after this visit…. Enjoy……………