I have a reputation around these parts (i.e. Planet Earth) as somewhat of a contrarian. I know that it seems as though I leap to the chance to spoil everyone else’s good fun with Lady GaGa, fish tacos, Survivor, The Democratic and Republican Parties and whatever else it is that everyone is crazy about at the moment.
I didn’t always used to be this way. In fact, my apparent contrarianism is actually a reminder to myself that I serve no one if I claim to like something simply because everyone else does. It’s an effort to remind myself that I am no longer 9. In fact, from about ages 6 to 11 I was the biggest camp follower you could find. All the other girls like Barbies, and even though my parents thought they were a womanist’s worst nightmare and were also too busy buying clothes for four living children to outfit a 10-inch plastic sex toy in style, I still craved the inclusion a snazzy Barbie with wardrobe would buy me. I was mortified when my middle name wasn’t Marie (like everyone else) and crushed when I didn’t have a pair of Jordache jeans. Thanks to Rainn and Star Wars I grew out of that, but there are still times when I wish I fit in with everyone else.
That is no more obvious to my inner self than when the topic of Jane Austen comes up. My sister adores her, and has read everything Austen ever penned. Together we’ve sat through at least three movie versions of Pride & Prejudice and I’ve even watched Emma and Sense & Sensibility for her. Austen is beloved of so many people and I always kind of feel broken inside when I find myself cold to her charms.
Every now and again I revisit the Austenian well in hopes that some change in my life’s circumstance will have fixed me and helped me to love Jane and her writings. That’s why I decided three nights ago to download the LibroVox audio recording of Pride and Prejudice to listen to while I fell asleep. Now that it’s the middle of the fourth day I’m having to once again own up to the fact that I just can’t see what the big horking deal is about this book.
Leaving aside the fact that all LibroVox readers are volunteer and therefore the first three chapters were read by a man who had a speech impediment (he said “Mawage” the way the priest did in Princess Bride), I listened so carefully…hoping to find something to enjoy.
I swear to you it hasn’t changed since the last time. It’s still a bunch of people with no real problems and too much time on their hands getting all up in each other’s business. There are long chapters about how pretty this person or that person is or isn’t. About whether Pride is different from Vanity and how the ball went over the night before. He likes this one and she likes that one and no one likes him. It’s like high school got plunked down in the English Countryside.
I really do feel like a failure for not being able to tease out the shining nuggets that seem to draw everyone else to this silt.