William Deresiewicz nous fait découvrir les plus grands romans de Jane Austen en analysant les enseignements que l'on peut en tirer sur les tous les sujets de formation de l'Homme. Bel exercice de lecture analytique qui se lit fort plaisamment. Idéal pour ceux que la lecture de Jane Austen rebuterait ou bien à ceux qui souhaitent obtenir un nouveau regard sur l'oeuvre. Sans être passionnée de l'artiste, on sortira de la lecture avec une meilleur connaissance de soi et des rapports humains.
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79 internautes sur 80 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
"the sweetest form of usefulness"2 mai 2011
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I came to this book with excitement and skepticism--excitement because I already admired the author's writing, and skepticism because I am wary of books that tell about "what such-and-such means to me in my personal life." A book about what someone learned about life from the novels of Jane Austen? Could I trust in such a thing?
Well, I am actually glad for the mild initial skepticism, because it put me in the author's shoes. I could see myself in the author as he describes himself at the outset--sarcastic, rebellious, and (in his view) too intelligent for everything around him. And so, as I read the book, I was able to enter its lessons, one by one.
Each thing Deresiewicz learned from Austen's work came not from a first reading, not from a quick reaction, but from a slow sinking into the work. As he takes the reader into each novel, as he leaves behind his own misconceptions of it, something remarkable starts to happen. The whole book is about close listening and the slow process of growing up. And it is about coming to love the work of an author--not adoring it immediately, not getting it right away, but discovering, over time, what it is really about. In the first chapter. Deresiewicz writes, on pages 12-13:
"I returned to the novel in a completely different frame of mind. Mr. Woodhouse's banalities, Miss Bates's monologues, all that gossip and small talk--Austen put them in as a sign that she respected her characters, not because she wanted us to look down on them. She was willing to listen to what they had to say, and she wanted me to listen, too. As long as I had treated such passages as filler and hurried through them, they had seemed impossibly dull. But once I started to slow down enough to take them on their own terms, I found that they possessed their own gravity, their own dignity, their own sweetness."
Likewise, the way he tells his story, it possesses its own gravity, dignity, and sweetness (and candor and roughness and wit). He doesn't mince words, about his family, his acquaintances, or himself. But the stories are not gratuitous or indulgent; again and again they lift into an understanding and come back to Austen and her work.
The book's lessons can be found in any life. The way the author tells them, it seems to me that I am learning them now, whether in fact I learned them long ago, am in the midst of learning them, or haven't learned them yet. By the end, I was actually beaming. I won't say more.
42 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
One mans treatise to, everything I need to know, I learned in a Jane Austen novel5 mai 2011
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We have long harbored the belief that everything worth knowing about life and love can be learned in a Jane Austen novel. William Deresiewicz thinks so too, and we could not be happier. In A JANE AUSTEN EDUCATION he soundly reaffirms our opinion that the world would be a better place if everyone just paid attention and listened to Jane Austen.
We realize that he is preaching to the choir here, but thought it important to point out that he started out in a much different place as a twenty-six year old graduate student who thought Austen was all girly romance and banal social drivel. He may have been as arrogant as Mr. Darcy, as clueless as Emma Woodhouse and opinionated as Lady Catherine de Bourgh when it came to acknowledging Austen's understated writing skills and message to her readers, but during the process of reading EMMA, one of Austen's most scrutinized and acclaimed novels, he had an intellectual epiphany. This will certainly grab the attention of half the population. A man admitting that he likes Jane Austen is unusual. Writing a whole book about the process of conversion, understanding what Austen wants to teach us and applying it to his own life, is a revelation! Dear reader. I must curb myself from gushing for fear of losing my credibility.
How William Deresiewicz came to evolve into an enlightened Y-chromosome is one heck of a great story. We are encouraged that other Janeites will think so too. We also hope that his tour through each of the six major novels will convert a few naysayers. Even though he was an associate professor of English at Yale University, he does not talk down to us from an ivory tower. Part literary criticism, part personal memoir and a lot of Austen doctrine, his prose is open, engaging and very humorous. There are several "light bulb" moments. Here is some of the pithy advice he learned from the master.
EMMA: Pay attention to everyday matters. Be in the moment. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Nobody's perfect. We are destined to make mistakes. Just learn from them. NORTHANGER ABBEY: Life is an adventure. Be open to change and growth. MANSFIELD PARK: Understand the difference between being entertained and being happy. It's a big one. PERSUASION: Be honest. Unconditional friendship serves no one. A true friend remains constant even if the truth hurts. SENSE AND SESIBILITY: Love means never having to say you're sorry! (just kidding) It's actually the opposite. Healthy conflicts keep relationships sound.
Our favorite chapter was number four - MANSFIELD PARK: Being Good. We regularly seek out opinions on Jane Austen's controversial novel, considered by some to be her dark horse, hoping for further enlightenment. He certainly nails it on the head by pegging the heroine. "Prim, proper, priggish, prudish, puritanical, Fanny simply couldn't deal with the threat of adult sexuality. And to top it off, she didn't even like to read novels." Characters who do not like to read novels are a red flag in Austen canon, so we were more than a bit piqued on how he was going to deal with this and turn it into an Austen lesson. Fanny Price was the heroine after all. How could Austen make us dislike her? He also admitted that the rest of the characters were "mainly different flavors of awful." Too true. Paralleling his own life was an adventure of a Jersey boy playing high with rich Manhattanites, and questioning who he was becoming.
"I returned to my dissertation (on Austen), that somehow had already told me everything I needed to know about that world before I'd even encountered it, only I hadn't been able to listen. For where was I, I finally saw, but smack in the middle of a Jane Austen novel - and one of them, in fact, in particular? What was the realm of luxury and cruelty, glamour and greed, coldness and fun, if not a modern-day version of MANSFIELD PARK?" Page 91
Like Fanny Price during the Mansfield Park theatrical, he realized that he could only ever be a powerless spectator in the alien environment of New York City. He eventually begins to understand Austen's cunning strategy in the narrative of MANSFIELD PARK and how it applied to his life, his friends and his responses to them. We will not reveal the final outcome, but for those who do not understand MANSFIELD PARK, you might see it in a new light. That alone was worth our price of admission.
We love this book, and not just because it has the best cover we have seen in years (we concede to being swayed by book eye candy), but because it is embodies Austen's craft of "minute particulars" and reinforces our personal belief system! We were truly agog and enchanted with every word.
Laurel Ann, Austenprose
34 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Interesting28 mai 2011
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This is an interesting book involving a contrast between two worlds - two continents and two hundred years apart. It hovers between two literary styles: the incomparable prose of Jane Austen and that of Deresiewicz, a contemporary American writer using the sometimes jarring idiom of his time and place.
I like tension involved in the concept and the idea of learning from the best of the past, something not often encountered in today's world of questionable role models.
There is, however, one disconcerting mistake in the analysis of "Pride and Prejudice" (p. 59) which makes me question how much Deresiewicz really knows his Austen. He describes Elizabeth Bennett's gradual realization of her own mistakes, including how wrong she was about her sister Jane's feelings about Mr. Bingley. Actually, Elizabeth was not mistaken. Her rejection of Mr. Darcy's first proposal was to a large extent fueled by her indignation about Darcy "ruining the happiness of a most beloved sister" by separating her from Bingley. This is a major plot point, led up to by Charlotte Lucas' ignored advice about a woman being wise in showing more, rather than less interest in a man than she actually feels.
I found it surprising that Deresiewizc focuses almost exclusively on the development of the main females in Austen's six novels and I was disappointed that the author didn't feature the major male role models, negative as well as positive. It would have been fun to see Austen's men meet the modern world. Austen's villains are promiscuous: Willoughby, Wickham, Henry Crawford. Then there are the troubled but redeemable men struggling through unfortunate love: Edmund Bertram, Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon. Finally, there are the Austen super-heroes that I've always been in love with: Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley. Darcy is intelligent, perceptive, beloved of those who know him best, helpful, and willing to change. Mr. Knightley, although in his mid-thirties, has had no previous entanglements and is patiently and kindly waiting for Emma to grow up. He's also extremely perceptive and is kind and generous to those in need. He is even willing to leave his own estate to move in with Emma and her father after the marriage.
These men have a natural calm dignity that to me is a fabulous and little-seen quality in today's world of the cool and the edgy. If Deresiewicz ever writes that book, I'll be first in line to read it.
By the way, I liked the last paragraph. Jane Austen might have called it felicitous.
15 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
An Enjoyable Memoir Worth Reading4 mai 2011
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I don't normally review memoirs. They just don't appeal to me, and I have a hard time being "captured" by the memoirs. However, there are rare occasions, such as this one, that I find I become engrossed in the life of the author, and I find myself finished with the book before I ever really got started! Those are the kinds of memoirs I enjoy...the ones that really capture and aren't too boring, yet aren't over the top. A Jane Austen Education is one such memoir, and I am pleased to have had the chance to review it!
There are some folks out there who may think about buying this book because of Austen alone. She is a great story teller of all time, and I truly enjoy her work. But this isn't strictly about Austen. Yes, it's about Austen but it's not ABOUT Austen. Deresiewicz is a man who creates this enjoyable memoir about his life after reading 6 of Austen's novels. He was a man who laughed at Jane Austen's work. A man who takes each chapter, breaks them down by specific books of Austen, and tells of how each book changed his life in some form or other.
Through each chapter, Deresiewicz tells of the meaning of each of these "romantic" novels, as they have so often been dubbed. After reading the novels, he was able to see through "romance" to the meaning and life lessons among each one. He took those messages/lessons and filed them away, learning from them and seeing what would make his life different....make his life better.
This is a four star memoir that I highly recommend you read. If you are an Austen fan, then take a moment or two to read this novel. You will see her stories in a whole new light! High praises to the author of this enjoyable memoir.
*This review is based on a complimentary copy which was provided for an honest review*
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
THIS is Why We Should Read Great Books!21 août 2011
John F. Michalski
- Publié sur Amazon.com
"I was twenty-six, and about as dumb, in all human things, as any twenty-six-year-old has a right to be, when I met the woman who would change my life. That she'd been dead for a couple of hundred years made not the lightest difference whatsoever. Her name was Jane Austen, and she would teach me everything I know about everything that matters."
A good book gives you a few hours or days of pleasure through its beautiful language or exciting story. A great book can change your life with the depth of its humanity and wisdom. I think A Jane Austen Education is a great book.
Half memoir, half literary study and half ethical treatise, A Jane Austen Education tells the story of how scholar and book critic William Deresiewicz went from angry, snobbish, cynical graduate student to healthy, happy grown-up largely through reading - and listening to - the six perfect novels of Jane Austen. As Deresiewicz tells the story, he started out his post-adolescence estranged from his father, unable to form a healthy relationship and very unsure of his place in the world. He has just begun a graduate program in English literature at Columbia University, and is only interested in "Modernist" literature that will fit in with his carefully cultivated angst and sense of superiority to all things sentimental and schlocky. So he is furious when he learns that he has to read - of all things - Jane Austen's Ultimate Celebration of the Trivial: Emma.
He reads the book...and his transformation begins. Convinced that only literature that was About Big Things matters, Deresiewicz finds himself being drawn into one of the greatest celebrations of Little Things ever written - and he starts to see the importance of the mundane. The routines and the relationships of daily life are, perhaps, more important than Big Things. Certainly, much more of our life is taken up with them. And, because of that, they are at least as worthy of our concern. When your friend, or your spouse, tells you about what happened at work today, or the grocery store or the playground, don't tune them out or inwardly roll your eyes. Pay attention. This is important. It's what Real Life is made of.
And so it goes. Each chapter is devoted to a different Austen novel. And in each chapter Deresiewicz learns a lesson in What Really Matters that relates to that novel. The chapter I found most interesting was the one on Mansfield Park - the novel even many Austen fans can't get next too. Fanny Price is probably the most unlikely heroine in literature - passive, depressed, and often a killjoy. Even Deresiewicz finds her too much to take - at first. But then he is able to relate Austen's ethical point (and Austen always had an ethical point!) to something that is going on in his own life...and he comes to see the wisdom in the book. I won't tell you more than that. I don't want to spoil the experience. But the chapter is definitely worth reading.
The whole book is worth reading. If you're already a Jane Austen fan, you'll love this book for the new insights it will reveal. And if you aren't a fan - I'm betting that you'll at least be inspired to give her a try.