Friday 24 August 2012

What is My Favourite Classic

The Classics Club will be hosting a monthly meme alongside it's 5 year challenge to read 50+ classics!

Personally, I'm excited!

I'm also a little stressed about how I'm going to fit all this extra reading and blogging into my already crazy life!

The first Classic Club meme is 'What is your favourite classic? Why?'

Easy peasy....
Or so I thought!

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice came to mind straight away.
I read it for the first time when I was 17 studying for my HSC.
Twenty seven years later I can fairly safely say that I have now read Pride and Prejudice about 27 times!!

Yes, you read that correctly! 27 times!

I haven't read it every single year since my HSC, but I did read it 5 times during the HSC period.

During my teaching years, P & P became my comfort read at the end of the summer holidays just as I was feeling melancholy about going back to work. P & P invariably cheered me up or at least made me forget about hot, smelly classrooms for a little bit longer!

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that P and P is not actually at the top of my favourite classic list.'

P and P is my comfort read. I love it for it's familiarity, it's humour, and it's delightfully constructed drama.

However Mr Darcy is not my favourite Austen hero and Elizabeth is not my all-time favourite Austen heroine. Lizzie is not a "kindred spirit" (to borrow from one of my favourite children's classics Anne of Green Gables).

That honour goes to Elinor Dashwood. 

Like me, Elinor would have spent her life spelling her name for others! Like me she was accused of being unfeeling because she chose to keep her feelings private. Like me she avoided dramas and drama queens, but was too polite to tell them to bugger off. Like me she was searching for a man of honour and loyalty. Elinor is a "kindred spirit".

But Sense and Sensibility is not my all-time favourite classic either.

My favourite Austen hero is Mr Knightley.

He's funny, intelligent, forgiving and patient.

And as I write these words, I realise that I am the luckiest woman in the world...because I did, in fact, marry my very own modern day Mr Knightley :-)

But I digress...

Emma is not my all-time favourite classic either and Emma is definitely not a "kindred spirit".

My all-time favourite classic read is....(drum roll please.............) Persuasion.

I've probably re-read Persuasion 5 or 6 times. 

I adore the long-lost love scenario (even before I had my own real life long-lost love scenario).

Although Anne Elliot can be a bit submissive at the beginning, I enjoy watching her character emerge as she matures and becomes more confident about her own abilities.

Persuasion also has one of the best lines ever about history and books being written by men...

Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. . . the pen has been in their hands," Anne tells Captain Harville. "I will not allow books to prove anything.

Given that many people thought that women from that era were meek and mild, Austen (a woman from that era) has her heroine (another woman from that era) using such powerful, intelligent words to show us how wrong that kind of thinking really is.

Anne is also a "kindred spirit" of mine and with her appalling family, she needs as many kindred spirits as she can get!

My only wish is that Austen had more time to develop the ending before she died.

I found both possible endings unsatisfactory (except for the obvious part where Anne and Wentworth get together). And I can't but help think that Austen would have reworked this a lot more if she had had a chance.

Maybe that is another reason why I love Persuasion so much. As a reader you can see the writer at work. You can appreciate Austen's craft by seeing the unfinished ending in the rough. I've always enjoy imagining how Austen would have polished the ending further.

Anne and Captain Wentworth are the most perfectly matched, well-suited, deserving lovers in history!

And I wish them all happiness together.


  1. Anonymous24/8/12

    Oh, that's such a lovely post. I haven't read Persuasion (started and stopped a few times), but you really make me want to complete it.

  2. Whoops...reading the same book for 27 times?! I can never imagine myself doing that. I usually have the need to re-read a book after 2 or 3 years when the story has faded from my mind.

  3. I love the HEY GIRL meme! So perfect. Also, 27 times is impressive. I don't think I've read any book more than five times tops. Good for you! Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion are my favorite Austen classic, but the favorite classic of all is Jane Eyre.

    Also, don't even get me started on Wentworth. I absolutely adore him. And Darcy. I would be very happy indeed to have either of them in my life.

  4. I had to read the first part of your post three times before I convinced myself it wasn't my eyesight at fault - you really did say you had read P&P 27 times. I thought I was doing well having read Middlemarch 6 times (but it's three times the number of pages of P&P so can I count that as having read 18 times? No? Oh well, it was worth the try....

    i loved your post - very clever idea of keeping us in suspense. I enjoyed Persuasion but wouldn't have put it a the top. I preferred Sense and Sensibility because of Elinor's strong character.

  5. Persuasion and Pride & Prejudice battle to this day for the title of my favorite Austen. I liked how you quoted that line about history being written by men. Cheers! (And yeah, I understand reading a book 27 times. The funny thing is that I never do it with my favorites either, but only with comfort reads.)

  6. Anonymous28/8/12

    Oh, I love your post! I love Elinor Dashwood, too! I've only read Sense and Sensibility ---I hope to eventually read all Jane Austen's major works so I can appreciate the rest of her books along with you. :)

  7. Anonymous29/8/12

    wow all the Austen-love! I've only just begun to get to know her, but based on how often she's come up in this month's meme - I think I'm going to enjoy her immensely. And 27 times? A record for sure :) -Sarah

  8. Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorites!! But I also do adore Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice. :-)

  9. Yes 27 is a little insane...but since writing this post I've had cause to pull P&P off the shelf again!

  10. This was such a great post! I really enjoyed it, even though I have only read two Austen novels, and I really struggled with Persuasion. But it is obvious that you have a personal connection to Austen and her titles, and that makes it even more important.

  11. Anonymous12/12/13

    Persuasion is my comfort read! I read it about every other year. I noticed that each read affects me a little differently, depending on which overall mood I am in while reading. And the best thing is that the book never gets old.


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