Monday, November 3, 2014

By A Lady

I don't know if I'd call myself a lady. 'Lady' has become a bit of a lightweight term these days, though my mum still prefers it. But Jane Austen, a little bit older than my mum, was definitely a lady...

I wonder if this reference to the nameless author being 'A Lady', on this first edition copy of her first published book, one of the first ever books published by a woman, indeed, is more about her class or her gender. I'm inclined to think gender, though as Austen's own writing shows, class status was very important, rather more than it is today.

I'm all about Jane Austen at the moment, though I haven't read this one. I will. Emma is currently blowing my mind, her female-male dialogue is second to none for gendered wit and repartee, and to my mind has hardly dated at all. I've actually set aside Dickens for Austen, quite appropriately, as she came first. I am so late to the classics that I read whatever comes to me, and Dickens came first, in a book store in Katoomba, NSW. Great Expectations. Great book. I read the first few lines and was hooked.

I love Dickens, as you know, but Chuzzlewit actually pissed me off recently after I liked the start and blogged about it here. But the fun he makes of the 'strong-minded' woman is disappointing, and not funny. Austen, unsurprisingly, deals rather more subtly with that subject, being a strong-minded woman herself. A strong-minded lady, indeed.

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