Portrait of Jane Austen, from the memoir by J....

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By Mandy Webster

I think I might be one of the few English majors on the face of the Earth who does not like Jane Austen. In fact, not only do most English majors I know like Austen, but many of them can’t seem to stop raving about her. I used to think it was mainly women who enjoyed reading her work, but I’m learning that she seems to have a universal appeal among English majors.

I’m sorry if I offend anyone, but I just don’t get it. I just started reading Emma for my Literature and Humor course that starts this upcoming Saturday, and after just one chapter, I am ready to close the book. I simply have a hard time finding amusement in the mindless prattle of an overindulged twit who is more than a little too impressed by her own wit.

Now, maybe I’m just missing something. And if I am, I’m sure it’s not the first time. I’m trying to keep an open mind as I read, to try to understand what it is about Jane Austen that other English majors love. Since we’re reading the novel for a course which analyzes humor in literature, I am specifically looking for passages that have some element of humor involved.

Anyway, we’ll be discussing this book in class Saturday, and I am hoping that this discussion will shed a little light on the situation. Until then, perhaps my readers can help me out.

Do you enjoy reading Jane Austen’s work? If so, what exactly is it about her work that you enjoy? And, if you’ve read Emma, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this particular novel. I look forward to reading your comments!


Amanda L. Webster