A Jane Austen Education, by William Deresiewicz

To reduce it to as few words as possible, I think Deresiewicz succeeds because he explains to us why when we have read and understood any of Jane Austen’s six novels we are grateful to her for ever after.

The joy of Jane Austen’s literary triumphs is that they are far more than merely literary. To appreciate what she does is to appreciate things about life, things that make it better and us happier. Now Deresiewicz is distinctly modern in his appreciation of Jane Austen, but that just goes to show how permanent the things Jane Austen values and teaches us are.

What he does may seem in the doing a bit on the black and white extreme and without sufficient shades of grey, but give him time to do what he is about. It is, after all, about Jane Austen, and nobody who has understood her is insensible of the fact that there are some things the doing of which takes time and is, moreover, time well spent. One is grateful to William Deresiewicz in the end, which is a mark of true Austenite triumph.

Reader, these explanations of Austen’s books deepen one’s appreciation and enhance one’s pleasure. And if, for some reason, it has been a while since you’ve returned to the volumes in question, this ought to encourage you.

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