We are pleased to bring you today’s special guest author Kate Dana, who shares with us her love of and the enduring influence of Jane Austen.
Jane Austen is a bit like a favorite dress; you’ve had it for years and refuse to throw it away because when you put it on you instantly feel fantastic. Austen is comforting and returning to her is like meeting an old friend. As her birthday dawns again we can all reflect on what brought us to Jane.
I remember being enchanted by the A&E/BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice , starring Collin Firth (Oh, be still my heart) and Jennifer Ehle. I was captured by the love story of Darcy and Elizabeth, obviously. Yet, I found when it was over I wanted more. I knew from the credits that it had been based on a book and in my teenage mind that meant that there was some genius to be credited somewhere and her name was Jane Austen.
I bought Pride and Prejudice and was enraptured. I had to have more. I read every completed novel she wrote. I soaked up her wit and her astute observations of human nature. I delighted in her wordplay and her characterization. I marveled at her sheer talent and I wanted a man like Tilney, Darcy, Wentworth, Brandon and Knightly in my life. I wanted them bundled up and packaged into one delectable ball of sexy man for my happiness, but then I had to reassess my dream and came to realize all of that great manly talent could not be bundled into one delightful man. That was why Austen had many heroes as it could not be one size fits all (no pun intended).
As I left my teens and entered the scary world of adulthood, I always came back to Austen. I explored her unfinished works , Sandition and The Watsons, finding myself saddened that she had not lived to finish them. Sandition, a work she was writing before her death, would have become one of my favorite works by her next to Northanger Abbey. Despite Austen only completing six novels (seven if you include Lady Susan), and leaving behind some fragments, I cannot help but feel grateful for what she was able to leave behind. We even have her delightful Juvenile to entertain us and give us further insight into the wicked mind of Austen.
A world of fan-fiction paying homage to Austen in one way or another, has implemented itself into pop culture with the promise that we to can have a little more Austen in our world. Austen has been sexed up, modernized and transplanted to other locations; but her stories, their themes and plots, have been universal in their interpretations.
Austen has managed to do what few authors can do and that is for the creative meeting of minds from all walks of life. This is exhibited in no better way than through JASNA, whether local or national, one can clearly see her influence abound. She has the ability to spark a conversation among strangers where there may have been none. I like to think that Austen is just the avenue to long lasting friendship.
Austen has influenced me as a writer and how I see life. I give a lot of credit to Austen, as do many others. As a writer I see her influence in any writing that I produce, I can relate most movies to Austen (i.e. 12 Men of Christmas is P&P) and Austen can usually be applied to real life situations. How many authors, dead or alive, can say that they have that sort of influence? She is just fantastic!
How has Austen influenced you?
I can think of no better way to celebrate the wonderful gift that Jane Austen gave me than by celebrating her life and her accomplishments. There is no one more deserving than Jane Austen and, frankly, there is no greater honor than imitation itself. Happy Birthday Dearest Jane!
More on Kate Dana can be found on her blog For the Love of Austen.
*Photo: I might have a problem bySaucy Salad, obtained through Flickr.