Apparently, all my life, I have been reading and listening to works by Jane Austen that are abridged. I read somewhere that the abridged books are best because Miss Austen tended to preach her fondest ideas which applied to her own time and would bore the modern reader. I have just discovered that this is not the case. I am listening to Pride and Prejudice, Unabridged, and discovering nuances that make the whole thing more well rounded.
For instance, Charlotte Lucas did hint broadly to Lizzie Bennet that she found Mr. Collins’ company to suit her. Miss Bingley talks about a love of books, which rather paints the character as willing to say anything to influence Mr. Darcy. Charlotte and Lizzie have a conversation about the growing attraction between Jane and Bingley, and Charlotte cautioned that the new residents of the county did not know Jane very well and probably could not pick up the nuances of her emotions.
Even when Jane is invited to Netherfield for the day and asks to use the horses for the carriage, her father’s saying that he wants the horses “much oftener than I can get them” makes that whole exchange better understandable than without it. These little details are hitting me as I listen to the book as hidden jewels. I love them!
As a writer of Regency Romances, I love absorbing customs, insights, and attitudes of people in Jane’s world. The more words by Miss Austen that I can listen to, the better. And when compared to that real life section of history, others of a more educational bent have found her writing to be very close to actual happenings. So of course, it’s great fun to read her books and learn a bit of history.
Other exciting news in the world of Jane Austen fans is the discovery of a photo album of Jane’s family, especially her nieces and brother. Miss Austen passed on in 1817 and photography only became available around 1830. No photographs of her were possible, but those of her closest relations are wonders to behold. Historians are as thrilled with the album as anyone, and there is talk of all the photos put on exhibition at a later date. Some dreams come very close to being true.
The fact that many of Jane’s relations let lives similar to her characters is remarkable and haunting. Did she receive images from the future from an unseen muse? Was there a compelling path set down through the stories? Or is it all just coincidence? I have a feeling there could be elements of all of this in the family history.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.