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A Jane Austen Education | [William Deresiewicz]

A Jane Austen Education

An eloquent memoir of a young man's life transformed by literature. In A Jane Austen Education, Austen scholar William Deresiewicz turns to the author's novels to reveal the remarkable life lessons hidden within. With humor and candor, Deresiewicz employs his own experiences to demonstrate the enduring power of Austen's teachings. Progressing from his days as an immature student to a happily married man, Deresiewicz's A Jane Austen Education is the story of one man's discovery of the world outside himself.
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Publisher's Summary

An eloquent memoir of a young man's life transformed by literature.

In A Jane Austen Education, Austen scholar William Deresiewicz turns to the author's novels to reveal the remarkable life lessons hidden within. With humor and candor, Deresiewicz employs his own experiences to demonstrate the enduring power of Austen's teachings. Progressing from his days as an immature student to a happily married man, Deresiewicz's A Jane Austen Education is the story of one man's discovery of the world outside himself.

A self-styled intellectual rebel dedicated to writers such as James Joyce and Joseph Conrad, Deresiewicz never thought Austen's novels would have anything to offer him. But when he was assigned to read Emma as a graduate student at Columbia, something extraordinary happened. Austen's devotion to the everyday, and her belief in the value of ordinary lives, ignited something in Deresiewicz. He began viewing the world through Austen's eyes and treating those around him as generously as Austen treated her characters. Along the way, Deresiewicz was amazed to discover that the people in his life developed the depth and richness of literary characters-that his own life had suddenly acquired all the fascination of a novel. His real education had finally begun.

Weaving his own story-and Austen's-around the ones her novels tell, Deresiewicz shows how her books are both about education and themselves an education. Her heroines learn about friendship and feeling, staying young and being good, and, of course, love. As they grow up, they learn lessons that are imparted to Austen's reader, who learns and grows by their sides.

A Jane Austen Education is a testament to the transformative power of literature, a celebration of Austen's mastery, and a joy to read. Whether for a newcomer to Austen or a lifelong devotee, Deresiewicz brings fresh insights to the novelist and her beloved works. Ultimately, Austen's world becomes indelibly entwined with our own, showing the relevance of her message and the triumph of her vision.

©2011 William Deresiewicz (P)2011 Penguin Audio

What Members Say

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  •  
    Janelle R. Engle Newberg, OR 08-15-12
    Janelle R. Engle Newberg, OR 08-15-12 Listener Since 2008
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    "A surprisingly great find!!"
    What made the experience of listening to A Jane Austen Education the most enjoyable?

    I have never read the books and it was fun to have someone distill them down tothe basics and share his thematic summaries of each book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    How he became a better person through the process of his doctoral studies.


    What about Sean Pratt’s performance did you like?

    nice voice, regulated cadence and expressive in nature


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No, just liked it a lot.


    Any additional comments?

    After reading this book, it made me want to go back and read the novels.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Josie 03-20-13
    Josie 03-20-13
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    30
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    "Well done!"

    This lit major managed to write a personal, personable, and wise book, mix it in with a tiny bit of "lit crit" that can be easily understood outside the rarefied atmosphere of academe, and teach me something about Jane Austin and New York society, all in a sympathetic engaging way. Enjoyed the heck out of it. Well read in a clear straight-forward style. It does help if you know a bit about Jane Austin's work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stacy Haddonfield, NJ, United States 10-12-12
    Stacy Haddonfield, NJ, United States 10-12-12 Member Since 2012
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    "This book really "gets" Austen"

    This book works on every level -- as a work of literary criticism and as a compelling story. I've read several books about Jane Austen or "sequels" to her novels before, but always been disappointed, as the non-fictional books were boring and pedantic and the fictional books failed to appreciate that Austen's work is about much more than romance. "A Jane Austen Education," on the other hand, appreciated and conveyed the depth and delight of Austen's work while, at the same time, delivering a contemporary story (the author's own) that pleasantly invoked all the elements of Austen. Narrated very well. Overall, it was a surprising delight.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Harpers Ferry, WV, United States 10-04-12
    Patricia Harpers Ferry, WV, United States 10-04-12
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    "Great read!"
    If you could sum up A Jane Austen Education in three words, what would they be?

    Fun, Educational, Romantic


    What other book might you compare A Jane Austen Education to and why?

    Can't think of a comparison. Really different and really fun to read and helped me learn more about Austen and about her books...


    What about Sean Pratt’s performance did you like?

    He did a great job. Very clear.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Jane Austen's books help make a guy more romantic...


    Any additional comments?

    All Austen friends will like this analysis and story, and non-Austen friends will appreciate Austen more...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah ANNAPOLIS, MD, United States 09-25-12
    Deborah ANNAPOLIS, MD, United States 09-25-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Great read!"

    The narration was excellent. The story was smart & thought provoking. Gave me great insight to the Austen novels.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    marsha warrenton, va, United States 09-03-12
    marsha warrenton, va, United States 09-03-12 Member Since 2012
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    10
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    "love love loved this book"

    I listened to this book on an 18 hour drive alone, it kept me completely enthralled. I remembered about all of the Austen books I have read over the years, and felt like I was in an English lit class with an interesting professor. He related all of the books to his life and i could do the same.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Mill Bay, British Columbia, Canada 08-20-12
    Kim Mill Bay, British Columbia, Canada 08-20-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Jane Austen's good reading"

    A smart and good understanding of Jane Austen. It is like hearing Jane Austen another time with a friend and discussing with him about her.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joyce 08-13-12
    joyce 08-13-12

    Greedy, voracious reader since age five. After a number of eye injuries & surgeries, reading is hard. So now, I listen.

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    "Great study of Jane Austen"
    What made the experience of listening to A Jane Austen Education the most enjoyable?

    I have loved Jane Austen's works for many years, but never studied them as literature. This author wrote his dissertation on Austen, and in doing so learned a lot about himself and what a shallow jerk he was (like some men in Austen's books). More interesting to me were his scholarly riffs on Austen's characters, but he makes his journey from boy to man interesting, too.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R Vicksburg, MS, United States 08-06-12
    R Vicksburg, MS, United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Thought provoking"

    I thought I knew Jane Austen until I listened to this book. The author opened my eyes to Jane and even though I was always a fan, now I more fully understand why. He explored the novels in light of his own life, the purpose Jane intended. Masterfully written and narrated, and thoroughly enjoyable. I anxious to read all of Jane Austen's works once again with a new perspective.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhonda Morrison Worcester, MA 07-30-12
    Rhonda Morrison Worcester, MA 07-30-12 Member Since 2012

    Film Lover

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    "A Little Dull"
    Would you try another book from William Deresiewicz and/or Sean Pratt?

    The narrator was fine, the book was a bit on the dull side, it definitely went through all the Austin classics, but the story of the narrator just did not interest me.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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