Emma, by Jane Austen

One of the disadvantages of being a fast and early reader is missing out on books that are, at 13 or 14, too long, too old, too formal, too boring, and not taking into account how much better they might be in ten years; they’re boring forever. (This, incidentally, is one of the reasons I don’t think late or reluctant readers should be pushed too hard into reading the classics). I tried <i>Pride and Prejudice</i> in middle school, <i>Sense and Sensibility</i> a little later, and didn’t like either… and yet, as I grew older, I started to think I’d like Jane Austen. I liked Jane Austen movies, and I certainly liked <i>Clueless</i> (which was based on <i>Emma</i>) even after I outgrew high school comedies in general.

So, one more try, and I discover what everybody else sees in Austen: the wit, the language, the observations about society and human nature. Like this:

 She had always wanted to do every thing, and had made more progress
both in drawing and music than many might have done with so little
labour as she would ever submit to.   (That’s me).

Or this, which is also me:

“Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve
years old.  I have seen a great many lists of her drawing-up at
various times of books that she meant to read regularly through–and
very good lists they were–very well chosen, and very neatly
arranged–sometimes alphabetically, and sometimes by some other rule.
The list she drew up when only fourteen–I remember thinking it
did her judgment so much credit, that I preserved it some time;
and I dare say she may have made out a very good list now.  But I
have done with expecting any course of steady reading from Emma.”

I liked this one very much.



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