Dear Miss Austen: An apology letter to Jane Austen

by Jan 11, 2017Letters

Dear Miss Austen,

By the time I was fifteen years old I had read all your books and watched all the film adaptations with a firm belief that your books were too fluffy for a serious reader like myself. I thanked you briefly for your ability to lead me to real literature, and I went on my way. Then one fine day a friend sent me a podcast debate on Jane Austen vs. Emily Bronte. Only the truly nerdy person would understand how entertaining this debate was for me but more importantly how much it changed my ridiculous ideas about your writing.

Your technical skill is just the framework for the masterpieces that are Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma among others. Nothing is insignificant in your novels. They are grand houses filled with secret passageways only discoverable by the truly inquisitive mind.

Example: in your last book, Persuasion, Captain Benwick, a minor character whose fiancé dies while he is away at sea, waxes poetic about never loving again and finds solace only in the most dramatic poetry.  Despite his passionate claims of ever unwavering love and devotion, Benwick suddenly becomes engaged again. This engagement sparks a conversation between two other characters which encapsulates the theme of the whole novel.  What I missed in my initial encounter with Persuasion is that you never actually allow Benwick to speak. Indeed, everything he says we hear only from the other characters relaying his words back to us. The genius of this is that you knew all his words were empty, thus he says nothing at all.

WHAT????!!!! That is brilliant!!!!

As a critic, I used to say, “Well, all her novels are all about marriage”. The obliteration of this critique is contained in The Taming of The Shrew, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and Much Ado about Nothing. Ending in marriage is not exactly a fluffy way to end a book but a proper way to end a comedy.

Your novels are all about people, real people that jump off our pages and become as good of friends as ones in the real world.

My deepest, heartfelt apologies



The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. – Jane Austen 

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