Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Becoming Jane Austen

Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence is the biography upon which the 2007 film was based. I must admit that while I disliked the film at first, I have since come to appreciate it after viewing it on cable television innumerable times. The movie Becoming Jane captures the poignancy of the great author's first and only love which would haunt her life and novels until her death at the age of forty-one. The book, however, fleshes out the depth of the influence which the clever, charming Irishman Tom Lefroy had upon Jane's psyche. Taken from upon an exhaustive study of the letters and writings of Jane Austen and her family and friends, much of what the author concludes about Jane's emotions and her relationship with Tom is speculation, but intelligent speculation.

I am impressed by how the constant theme of money arises throughout the book. How vital it was for a young lady to have some kind of a fortune or dowry in order to marry well, unless a wealthy man chose to marry her for love alone. Without a fortune and an offer of marriage, a young woman would have to earn her own living, either as a governess or a teacher or by learning a trade. Jane chose to earn an income by her writings. While earlier portrayals of Jane present her as a lady of leisure writing for pleasure and the good of humanity, Jon Spence meticulously shows that Jane took on writing not just for love of her craft but as a business venture. While she never enjoyed the full pecuniary reward of her labors during her lifetime, the legacy Jane left to the body of English literature is surely beyond price. Share

6 comments:

Julygirl said...

Yes, one would think that her writing would have brought her great wealth as it has to some much less talented writers during our time. Regarding 'marrying well', when I was young and unmarried and read 'Pride and Prejudice' I was struck by all the fuss about getting the daughters married and the trauma it caused the mother, because beginning with my generation the marriage question was pretty much left to the young people to marry or not marry, and no one seemed to care either way.

elena maria vidal said...

How things have changed.....

Matterhorn said...

I think Jane Austen showed alot of good character, in soldiering through the various hardships, disappointments and sorrows in her life.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Jane used every life experience to enrich her novels.

SF said...

I adore Jane Austen's writings, most heartily. :>

elena maria vidal said...

I enjoy her works, too. I read a lot of Jane Austen when I was writing MADAME ROYALE so as to get a feel for the language of the period.