Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On Second Thought

Dear Jane Austen,

I have read all of your books-excepting Sanditon and the stories you wrote as a child. And I have a few complaints. First of all, very few guys I know enjoy your books. Now maybe you don’t mind that. But I am a bit tired of mentioning your books and immediately see eyes rolling and boys sighing and suddenly they’re all on the floor sleeping when all I said was “I just finished reading Persuasion and now I need a new book to read.” But we can’t talk about Red Wings hockey like I wanted now because all the boys are on the floor sound asleep. They won’t even give you a chance because you have this reputation as the empress of chick lit or something like that.

Now I understand that you were a good writer. And I know some men who appreciate that. I know some guys who like your books. I know men who have given you a shot and admitted that you’re a decent writer but you’ve got nothing on Patrick McManus. (Sadly, they’re right.) You also have nothing on J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis and I really prefer their writings. The movies of their books are also more fun. I’d much rather watch someone fight off Orcs in Moria and then fight the battle of Helm's Deep and then more battles after that than watch the prejudiced Lizzie Bennet marry the proud Mr. Darcy. Or is it the proud Lizzie and the prejudiced Mr. Darcy? It’s so hard to remember or decided. Although, I do need to thank you for one thing; all of your titles are clear except for Pride and Prejudice. I know who Emma is. I know who is Sense (Elinor) and who is Sensibility (Marianne). I know where the titular Persuasion comes into play. I get that Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park are the settings of their respective novels. But who is pride and who is prejudice?

Furthermore, you unwittingly inspired thousands of movies and plays and books. I’m not entirely sure that I’m comfortable with this. The famous P&P rivalry/dynamic is mimicked in Shop Around the Corner in the 1930’s. Okay, that was fine. But then there was every other chick flick made between then and then End of Time. The same dynamic is present in 1998’s You’ve Got Mail. It’s in Bride and Prejudice, which was inspired by Pride and Prejudice. You’ve got a million girls around the world in love with Fitzwilliam Darcy or Joe Fox or whoever is the latest incarnation of him-including in 2003’s Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy. It’s a bit boring.

And what is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO great about Mr. Darcy anyway? Okay so he’s handsome and he owns Pemberley. Hot Fuzz! But he’s so proud and arrogant and conceited. I don’t think he ever really learns his lesson. Oh, sure, he does great things to woo Lizzie. He makes her sister marry Wickham and takes care of everything for them financially. And he does it all because he loves Lizzie and he wants to marry her-not because he’s a good and decent person. I’m just not that crazy about Darcy. I’m not really sure that he ever has a change of heart. I know that Captain Wentworth has a change of heart. And Emma matures and grows up. But Mr. Darcy just kind of sits there and says, “I’m rich. Worship me. Marry me. Have my babies. Your family is stupid.” Okay, her family is ridiculous. But come on, Jane. He needs a little maturity.

Oh and I’ve always liked Persuasion more than Pride and Prejudice. I like You’ve Got Mail. And I love Shop Around the Corner but I’ve always been a BIG James Stewart fan. Colin Firth is decent but he's no Cary Grant.

I also think you would have enjoyed Gladiator and Braveheart.

Sincerely yours,

A Concerned Fan

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