Posts Tagged ‘Jane Austen’

Something that bugs me about books: Irritating protagonists.

Everyone has read a book which has an irritating protagonist, surely. It is a good mark of a well-written character who may remind you of some equally irritating person you know in real life, just put down on paper. Nothing wrong with that.

However, it ruins the experience of reading a little, especially when you want to throttle them!

I’ll give you some examples:

  1. Ana, Fifty Shades of Grey - She is rather pathetic, despite being fairly intelligent. I guess she is a little less experienced in the world, especially in relationships and sex, than her peers. Suddenly, she realises that getting beaten up is OK if it’s a hot, sexy, rich man doing it in a way which is pleasurable. Until she realises just how messed up he is and how she is never going to have a normal relationship with him. She annoyed me almost as much as…
  2. Bella, the Twilight saga – This girl whines on about having to move to Forks, even though she says it was her own idea. She says she loves her dad, but refuses to call him that, opting for “Charlie” when talking to everybody but him. She complains about getting presents for her birthday and celebrating her birthday because she is getting old. There is no denying this fact of life. She is happy that vampire Edward watches her sleep at night and never leaves her alone if he can help it. She does stupid things like almost killing herself in order to see hallucinations of Edward after he leaves her. She ignores the dangers and persuades Edward to have sex with her as a human, knowing that she could easily die. She obsesses about becoming a vampire, which seems like the only way to stay with Edward forever. She really has so many flaws. She says she’s not normal, and i guess the story would be boring if she was normal, but even so, she’s still a fairly normal to other people’s eyes.
  3. Emma, from the classic Jane Austen novel, Emma. - She annoys me because she is constantly trying to match-make other people, and interferes too much. She spends too much time meddling in other’s lives that she doesn’t realise the effect she has on them. Mr Knightley even tells her off for making fun of people. For someone supposedly caring about the less well-off people, she can be really bitchy! And she is really selfish, especially when she tells Harriet to refuse the marriage proposal from the guy she loves (and ends up marrying anyway!).
  4. Valentina, from Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. – She starts out so well, being the shy and quiet girl overshadowed by her domineering twin sister Julia, who nicknames her “Mouse”. Then she wants to escape her bossy sister and be with her lover, but instead of just running away, she hatches a plan to fake her death and then run away, just to sever the bond with her sister. The flaw? Her aunt’s ghost steals her body, so she ends up stuck dead, still with her sister.

Do you agree? Is there anyone else you would like to add to this list?

“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”

— Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Cover of "Lord of the Flies, Educational ...

Cover of Lord of the Flies, Educational Edition

Sometimes i find myself feeling really thick in terms of my literary education. Especially while watching BBC 2′s “University Challenge”. I don’t understand how people of the same age as me can know SO MUCH!

They can just easily answer a question about Jane Austen, or T.S. Elliot, and i’m like, i probably knew that but only after the answer has been produced do i actually remember it!

I feel very stupid when it comes to questions about classic novels and authors and my parents look at me expecting me to know the answer. If i don’t know the answer (more often than not), i just think “i should know that” or “i spent 3 years getting into all that student debt and i don’t even know the answer to that question which should be easy for a graduate of literature and language”. Oh dear.

I also feel bad when people discuss certain typical school English lesson novels which everyone learns about, which i haven’t! Ok, so at school i did a lot of Shakespeare, like Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, etc. However, I didn’t do Hamlet, Twelfth Night or some of the others. I did A Catcher in the Rye and Wuthering Heights, but i didn’t do Of Mice and Men, or To kill a Mockingbird, or Lord of the Flies. Of course, i know it’s not possible to study them all at school or university but i could have at least read them in my spare time maybe?

I’m afraid i generally prefer the more contemporary and modern novels. A bit of sci-fi, a tiny bit of chick lit, a large dose of fantasy, and a bit of thriller and crime. I also like to try out a bit of translated fiction. But in order to be a “proper” English student, i feel i should be more acquainted with the classics, the essential backbone of literature.

I therefore plan to read a lot more classics. I also want to read more into the critical and analytical side of literature and these authors. I have a few such books in my possession from university and yet i haven’t read all of them. The main problem is that many of those textbooks are not cheap. But since getting a Kindle, it brings a new way to get hold of these books, and sometimes at a cheaper price.

I need to read more Dickens, having only read a few of his shorter works or bits and pieces of the longer ones. I intend to read A Christmas Carol soon as i’ve only really watched the film versions. I will also attempt to read the rest of Jane Austen’s novels, as i borrowed my mum’s anthology of her works and have currently read Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Pride and Prejudice, and i would like to read the others.

Then there is a huge list of others i would like to read, and a bunch i want to re-read! Just so little time and too many books on the list!

Do you have anything you feel you ought to read? Do you feel like there is something you have missed out on?