I want DESPERATELY to read a Jane Austen novel, But i don’t have the intelligence to keep up with the words…
Please, any suggestions would be most appreciated. I’m getting tired of being left out of such great stories.
(Even the “Independent Reader” version of “Pride and Prejudice” had tripped me up)
Hey, followers! Any suggestions for this future Janeite? I know there are some teachers out there who might know about helpful resources.
My advice is to take it slow and have a dictionary at your fingertips. If you really care to work at it, maybe mark the beginnings and ends of sentences with a pen or pencil. Sometimes while reading Jane it is easy to get lost in her layered, loopy sentence structure, so breaking it down bit by bit might help.
Also, books on tape are awesome! Juliet Stevenson voices BEAUTIFUL versions of Austen’s novels. A good voice actor will help you interpret the meaning of the language.
Lastly, try reading an introductory book about the time in which Jane lived, like What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew (or others—help me, fellow Janeites!). That will help give context to the language and customs you’re reading about. Also, a little sparknotes never hurt anyone. :)
Hope this helps a bit!
To be honest, watching an adaptation first would be the most helpful.
In one of my thesis resources, a book of essays called Jane Austen in Hollywood, a professor wrote an essay on her sort of a study of this phenomenon. She had half of her students read Sense & Sensibility the novel first and had them watch the 1995 adaptation of Sense & Sensibility second while had the other half watched the film first and then read the novel second. The students who had watched the film first showed not only more interest in the work, but better comprehension of the novel’s content. The film first group also did better on their test scores for comprehensions of both the film and the novel.
Visuals can really help. You can see some of the dialogue in play on the screen and then you see how it functions in her plots. It is genuinely tricky stuff. Even Jennifer Ehle, who famously played Elizabeth Bennet in the 1995 miniseries adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, said that Austenian dialogue was harder to learn than even Shakespeare.
It’s worth the effort, you may be sure. I’ve had friends give up on reading Austen because they weren’t willing to try to find the great story in the tricky language. The Jane Austen loving community is strong on Tumblr, so if you have questions, please ask!
I truly applaud you for your continued efforts to read her works. Good luck!
Isn’t Divine just divine!? Yes, watching P&P95 when I first got into Austen definitely helped me! :)
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