A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter

by William Deresiewicz
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Overview

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594202889
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/2011
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 8.32(w) x 5.78(h) x 0.92(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

William Deresiewicz was an associate professor of English at Yale University until 2008 and is a widely published book critic. His reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, The Nation, Bookforum, and The American Scholar. He was nominated for National Magazine awards in 2008 and 2009 and the National Book Critics Circle's Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing in 2010. He is the author of Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets.

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A Jane Austen Education 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
ReviewsByMolly More than 1 year ago
I don't normally review memoirs. They just don't appeal to me, and I have a hard time being "captured" by the memoirs. However, there are rare occasions, such as this one, that I find I become engrossed in the life of the author, and I find myself finished with the book before I ever really got started! Those are the kinds of memoirs I enjoy...the ones that really capture and aren't too boring, yet aren't over the top. A Jane Austen Education is one such memoir, and I am pleased to have had the chance to review it! There are some folks out there who may think about buying this book because of Austen alone. She is a great story teller of all time, and I truly enjoy her work. But this isn't strictly about Austen. Yes, it's about Austen but it's not ABOUT Austen. Deresiewicz is a man who creates this enjoyable memoir about his life after reading 6 of Austen's novels. He was a man who laughed at Jane Austen's work. A man who takes each chapter, breaks them down by specific books of Austen, and tells of how each book changed his life in some form or other. Through each chapter, Deresiewicz tells of the meaning of each of these "romantic" novels, as they have so often been dubbed. After reading the novels, he was able to see through "romance" to the meaning and life lessons among each one. He took those messages/lessons and filed them away, learning from them and seeing what would make his life different....make his life better. This is a four star memoir that I highly recommend you read. If you are an Austen fan, then take a moment or two to read this novel. You will see her stories in a whole new light! High praises to the author of this enjoyable memoir.
beckytheother More than 1 year ago
I loved this book already being an self-professed Austenite. I think it is though very useful and enjoyable to get a masculine perspective on Austen. I enjoyed Mr. Deresiewicz's narrative and perspective. I do highly recommend it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For all Jane fans!
Verity_K More than 1 year ago
Mr. Deresiewicz gives an intelligent summary of the life lessons in Jane Austen's novels that are useful for anyone looking to further enhance their already fine character: choose wisdom over wit, love with your head AND your heart, and most of all strive for kindness and usefulness.
CarmanK More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed reading this book. It is a new perspective on Jane Austen that I had never fully understood until now. Very interesting, hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
EmilyI More than 1 year ago
To any and ALL Jane Austen fans out there, read this, "A Jane Austen Education: how six novels taught me about love, friendship, and the things that really matter" by William Deresiewicz. Seriously. I'm in the SAME giddy raptures of delight that I get into after watching an Austen adaptation, and this is only a memoir about how six novels changed a man's life. Now, more than ever, I'm determined to wait, not for the man who "completes me", but the one who, by God's grace and divine awesome love, stretches and grows me while letting me stretch and grow him as we grow together in God. I'm quite happy to wait for my Darcy and my Wentworth, my Edward and my Mr. Knightley. This memoir follows a man as he writes his dissertation on community in nineteenth-century England. He took a class in college on English lit and was blessed to have one of those great professors who teach not to teach, but to be taught. William Deresiewicz, the author, was totally not into Jane Austen- "Why do we have to read some sappy Romantic author? Are you kidding me? Let's read Dostoevsky instead!"- but realized as he read Emma, that neither was Jane Austen. She strove to be separate from her Romantic peers, and instead write about community, friendship, affection, and lastly true love. Austen laughed at the people (her characters) who "fell into love", writing them as being the biggest fools of all. Deresiewicz uses each of Austen's six novels to explain some part of society--explanations that apply to our modern world as well--and to show how the brilliant, honest thoughts of Austen changed his life. This book is well written, with humor, meaning, and connection, and expands each Austen story in a way that I never would have done on my own. (Though, to be fair, I haven't read all six novels, and the two I have read were a few years ago. Just like for Austen's beloved characters, growing up changes things.) It's a rare book that can change a person's viewpoint, and I can say that I will not be about to watch an Austen adaptation--or read her books--the same way ever again. Heck, even if you're not actually a fan of Austen at the moment, read this, and you just might end up being one. There are worse things.
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