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
Greedy, voracious reader since age five. After a number of eye injuries & surgeries, reading is hard. So now, I listen.
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.
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.
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.
This is my first Audiobook, and I've really enjoyed it.
I read and re-read my favorite Jane Austen novels every year, and have never formally studied Jane Austen, so getting the author's perspective and how Austen's works have influenced him create another level of appreciation for my favorite novels.
I am a clay sculptor and an art instructor at a community college. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I work in my home studio.
As a fan and more or less indiscriminate consumer of all things Jane Austen, I basically had to listen to this book. If you are also an Austen omnivore, by all means, read it. The guy had some slightly interesting insights into Austen's books and apparently reading them helped him work through some issues of his own--or such is the conceit of the book.
The author sounds like a jerk who "found himself" thanks to Jane. Good for him.
If you are looking for actual insights into Jane Austen's writing, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a good story, look elsewhere. If you are looking for an appealing protagonist, look elsewhere.
As for myself, I finished this mildly interesting book and promptly cleansed my palette with some authentic Austen. Turns out I prefer my Jane Austen books without the benefit of outside explanation--at least not this man's interpretations.
If you want a more specific explanation, I guess I didn't have much faith in the interpretations of Mr. Deresiewicz. The most interesting thing in the book was the background on Jane Austen herself and parallels to her characters. I didn't like being told what the books meant or what Jane Austen was trying to accomplish with them. They seem, to me, to stand so well on their own as to not require interpretation and Mr. D's explanations didn't jibe with my own.
It made me go out and buy new copies of all the Jane Austen novels I sold back years ago...
I loved it.
Erstwhile librarian and tech salesperson. Favorite genres - history, biography, and mystery.
This book was very clear and easy to digest. I will listen to it again when I want to feel better about the world. The author does a great job of combining really great criticism of Jane Austen's works, the history of her life and historical period, and how it relates to his own life.
It ranks at the top.
I loved the way the author wove his story together with Austen's stories.
I loved his voice.
Many moments, too numerous to list. As a teacher, I was moved every time he wrote about the importance of the details of our lives, the importance of each life, and the importance of each story. It affirmation to my teaching, as well my life as a wife and mother, made me glow.
I didn't like how he ended the book. I understand the allusion to Austen's writing
I loved this book. There are 3 stories going on. His personal story, Jane Austins books and Jane Austins personal story. If your a fan of hers a must read and I have not read all her books but have seen all of her books movies.
I never wanted to "analyze" a book again after finishing my last English class (over 40 years ago) but this is so enjoyable from Mr. Deresiewicz's life perspective. This summer I want to read all of Jane Austen again and listen to this as a companion. I will appreciate my most loved books even more. Narrator was wonderful.
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