Because we live in a great age, there is such a thing as iTunesU, where—right from my phone during breakfast—I can sit in on filmed lectures and pretend like I’m attending university in Oxford or Cambridge. My recent favorite is a podcast on Jane Austen’s early and unfinished manuscript “The Watsons.” I sat through it absolutely giddy. Like tween girls sit through a Justin Beiber concert: bopping in my seat.
Back in the late 90s, when I was a junior in high school, the BBCs epic 5-hr version of Pride and Prejudice came out. Somehow my non-cable family obtained a VHS tape of this and I spent innumerable hours watching the film, reciting favorite lines with my cousins (also die-hard fans), and, not long afterward, reading the actual book. Sad to say, as a 16 year old, I wasn’t much of a reader. Pride and Prejudice changed that. Because I was so familiar with the story, the language was easier to follow. And I was predisposed to love what I read. I was finally led to understand that great truism: books are better than their movie counterparts! Who knew??
I read the rest of her works, which then led to a 19th-century British lit jag: Alexander Dumas, Baroness Orczy, Thomas Hardy, the Brontes. I read other stuff, too. Fluffier stuff. But Jane steered me down a classical path. Gave birth to me as a reader. Is that too dramatic? I don’t care. It feels true, which is why I adore her so unabashedly.
Tomorrow’s breakfast lecture: Plato’s Philosophy of Art.