Seeing as I’ve made not liking Jane Austen part of my personality trait, I think it only seems fair to voice my reason why. Jane and I go way back – we’re talking around 2015 here – when I first picked up her book Persuasion.
Persuasion was actually a book of hers that I did enjoy. It was one of the first classics I had ever read on my own without school pushing it down my throat, and I revelled in the old-timey language and customs. I think the fact that I had read one of her lesser known works made me feel impressive and knowledgeable.
And then I had to study Pride and Prejudice.
Sue me, but I didn’t like it. I think I made such a point of not liking it that I can barely even remember my rational reasons for hating it. I thought it was slow, I thought Austen was overhyped, and I longed to be reading Of Mice and Men for GCSE like all the other English classes were.
In my defense, Austen could not be further from my literary interests. I am firmly planted in my adoration for the 20th century and the literary exploration that came out of it. While I can appreciate everything Austen did for the literary world, she just isn’t for me.
Next came Sense and Sensibility for A Levels which was equally as difficult to get through. I found myself feeling like I was in Groundhog Day; her stories all jumbled into one vague reiteration of the one before. I found her style uninspiring, most of her characters flat, and her worlds didn’t spark alight any sort of fire within me.
I know I have read Northanger Abbey but I really couldn’t tell you what it was about which perhaps says enough on my views of the book. Lady Susan and half of Emma later and we are nowhere new. Perhaps Mansefield Park – the only one left – will completely sway me.
Saying that you don’t like Jane Austen as an English student is often responded to in multiple ways. Some physically cannot understand why. Some think you’ve joined their camp of edgy, ‘you probably wouldn’t understand what I read’ students. Others are in agreement that she is too overhyped.
But I am tired of defending myself against it. I am sorry – I just don’t like Jane Austen.