Do the names Stephenie Meyer, Suzanne Collins and Nicholas Sparks sound familiar? These are the authors of the popular books “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games” and “The Notebook.” Now how about these names–Victor Hugo, Washington Irving or Jane Austen? No?
Well, all six of these authors have not only made their names known in the publishing industry, their classic books have now been transformed into award-winning films.
Victor Hugo penned the novel “Les Miserables,” the movie that has now won three Golden Globes, Washington Irving wrote the eerie “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” whose book was adapted for film and featured actors Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, and Jane Austen’s, “Pride and Prejudice,” made its debut on the silver screen in 2005 starring actor Colin Firth. Would you know of these books if they were not transformed into movies?
Take Jane Austen for example: this month marks the two-hundredth anniversary of her book “Pride and Prejudice.”
Junior Lauren Dougherty said, “I have heard of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ before, but I never knew if it was just a book or a movie.” When asked if she had ever heard of Jane Austen she replied no.
Professor William Stroup teaches the class Understanding Jane Austen here at Keene State College, a class not only for the English majors but also an elective for other majors as well.
Stroup helps to keep Austen and her work alive 200 years later. Stroup said he thinks that society reads her book because, “She understands that thoughtful conversation is not a trivial part of life. It’s actually a deep human pleasure and connection. She’s asking us how can we be practical about matters of money and influence without becoming so braised over, that we’re incapable of feeling love and friendship,” Stroup said.
While Professor Stroup enjoys the texts of Austen, English major junior Kelly Bishop’s reasoning for why people do not read or even know of her books anymore is because, “There are constantly new books being published all the time and it is more likely that someone will pick up a book from a modern day author rather than someone from the nineteenth century. A modern day author connects with readers through the use of the surroundings we live in today,” Bishop said.
We live in a world of entertainment and maybe Austen does not give the majority of people that satisfaction.
However, there are 4,500 members and 70 regional groups in the United States and Canada that are part of the Jane Austen Society Of North America (JASNA).
This is dedicated to the appreciation and pleasure of Jane Austen and her writing.
The website, jasna.org, includes news and events on the author, merchandise, links that lead you to other Jane Austen websites and more. This culture of captivated readers and fans of Austen cherish her work even in the year 2013. When asked if he thinks that Austen is still popular amongst our generation Stroup said he hopes so!
Austen’s books are filled with young love, violence and comedy, something that readers get the gratification of reading today. Nursing major Molly Smith has never taken a class on Austen or seen any of the movies, but she loves reading her novels.
“I find it so fascinating to read something from a long time ago, and I still can feel connected because it deals with teenagers and love. It goes back to a more simple time in the world and although I am currently in this modern day, when I read, I feel as if I am in Britain wearing an elegant dress drinking tea,” Smith said.
“The Real Jane Austen” by Paula Byrne was just recently published in honor of the two-hundredth anniversary.
The book explores the author’s family background as well as how Austen was influenced in creating her books. The book helps fans connect to Austen through more than just her novels. Readers observe the acquaintances of Austen’s books among her life; it gives a sense of where Jane Austen was coming from when creating these victorious stories.
On this two-hundredth anniversary, some celebrations include the reproduction of the Netherfield Ball which was a graceful ball that took place in the book “Pride and Prejudice.”
In Bath, England a 12-hour read-a-thon was broadcast live online and in Philadelphia they celebrated lectures, film screenings and theatrical performances of scenes from the novel. Even Penguin Classics had twitter users tweet their favorite lines from any one of Austen’s books.
With all the hype of the anniversary of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” this could possibly help stir up a new generation of readers infatuated with these lovely novels.
Modern society is vastly progressing, but if society chooses to keep Austen alive there will always be an audience who adores these written novels.
Bishop said, “If we keep reading and talking about Jane Austen to our friends or whoever we meet, we can get people to not only read, but, to read something of value that still holds truth today.”
Deanna Caruso can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org