Austen Endures…

Austen Endures…

I read an interesting New York Times article the other day I thought I’d share with you…

The Word Choices that Explain Why Jane Austen Endures.

I have always said that Austen draws human nature with pin-point accuracy – and since that never changes, she remains relevant. Over and over again, I find her a good model for human understanding, and good writing.

Katz and Flynn give a wonderful outline and a visual representation of why this might be. The Stanford Literary Lab found that Austen’s word choices, her language, was so different from what was being written at the time that it was, in many ways, revolutionary. Quite honestly, it remains different from what writers are encouraged to employ today. Simply because we adore Austen does not mean editors push us to write like Austen… She was and is unique.

Writers today are requested/told/implored to not use qualifiers… no very-s, no much-es, and certainly no most-s. But Austen’s writing is full of them – and they work! I suspect they work because, even though that is not how we may write, it is how we think. We think in those gradations and return to them when trying to figure out others and ourselves – our emotions do follow more, never, always and not yet.

If you don’t wish to follow the link, the article concludes with…

That points to traits so crucial for her endurance in the Darwinian struggle for literary immortality: acute emotional intelligence, and a rare ability to render it in stories that amuse even as they instruct. Austen seems to see people so clearly that we, her readers, cannot fail to improve in perceptiveness, too.

 We could have told him this long ago, but I’m glad our beliefs are now backed by the Stanford Literary Lab. 🙂

Have a great day!




8 Responses to Austen Endures…

  1. Thanks for the post, Katherine. I’m going to read the whole article. It’s nice to have our thinking validated. She did write differently, and even though she does a lot of tell, it works. Her word choices are probably the reason why. I’ll be looking at how she writes a little closer when reading her books. She definitely was a special lady with a brilliance that makes her beloved even 200 years later. As authors, we can only endeavor to aspire. 🙂

    • I agree on all counts. I have always found it interesting that while she does “tell”, she does it with economy. One sentence portrays a personality rather than a paragraph. She’s that precise at times.

      • Ah, thank you, for that observation. That’s something else I’ll be looking for. Also, I really enjoyed that article. I’ll be seeing how my writing compares in that regard. 🙂

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