Being Jane Austen

I admit, it is a daunting task to decide which famous person I want to be for a day. Having being preceded by countless generations of inventors, thinkers, artists and leaders, there is just a surfeit of personalities to choose from. The world we live in today is the culmination of the achievements of these famous people and I, like any other well aware human being have an array of favorite personalities I would want to be. However, I would like to take a moment and consider the time we live in now and what being famous entails. In my opinion, fame should be related with real achievement and endurance; two attributes which present themselves only after some time has passed.

I am a bit of an old soul and have always nursed a wish to travel back in time. It would be fascinating to see the conditions we have evolved from. Perhaps this is why I love to read. In the absence of a time machine, a book is the next best thing which can make one explore our past. Literature is the reason why I am well acquainted with Victorian London or the Jazz Age. Though, there are countless accomplished authors who made this possible, the personality of one stands out for me.

My first tryst with Austen happened when I was 15. Emma was the first novel I read and since then, it has remained on my list of top 5 favorite books. I slowly devoured all her works and was truly starstruck. The most remarkable quality of her work is that a reader wants to revisit them time and again, despite reading it from cover to cover. I did the same when I was in my early twenties. I was a bit more mature and was able to sense the biting social commentary beyond the gentle comedy and romance. This is when I started thinking how hard it must have been for Austen to establish herself as a writer during that era. A woman showing a male dominated society the mirror, I would definitely travel in time to do that.

Whenever I read her novels, more than once I find my mind straying to the fact that she never married. She never experienced enduring love, except for her doomed romance with Tom Lefroy. Yet, she wrote about love and romance with such fervor that I want to bow to her imagination. Writing should be self exploratory. But when a story teller gives you an accomplished work which is not drawn from their experience, they are truly worth their salt.

I find Austen intriguing because so little is known about her private life. She lived a simple life, in a close knit family. She received only one marriage proposal in her entire life, which she turned down. She never moved in the same circles as other writers of her time. Most of her fame was achieved after her death as her novels were published anonymously while she lived. However, she remained utterly dedicated to her craft throughout her short life. Her life was as charmed as it was nondescript.  I wonder if she knew about how accomplished she would go on to be. I wonder if she realized that she was setting impossible standards for men for centuries to come; that her novels would see millions of women through lonely evenings.

I wish I could live her life for a day; be bound by social conventions and gently breaking them at the same time, be a quiet iconoclast. Above all, I would love to be known as the woman who gave Mr. Darcy to the world.

Written in response to Daily Prompt – Instant Celebrity

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15 thoughts on “Being Jane Austen

  1. This was a lovely read, and I, too, love that era. It would be so fun to go back in time and live even with her for a day. Thanks for sharing your love for Jane Austen.

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