Thursday, January 10, 2013
Book 148: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.
I decided to read Mansfield Park for Adam's Austen in August event. And I did read the entire novel in the very beginning of that month. Then, my classes I was teaching changed, so I was in a planning craze, then I started feeling sick, then school started, and before you know it, here I am in January. Whoops.
But I can't let this one just slip through the cracks, so I must say something about Austen's novel, even though it probably won't be all that detailed (or insightful).
I had read Mansfield Park once before-back when Austen was a new obsession-and while I enjoyed it then, it wasn't my favorite. Mansfield Park is definitely a quieter version of Austen, and I much preferred her rip-roaring heroines in Pride and Prejudice and Emma. But, I was eager to read this one in August to see if my feelings had change at all.
Imagine my surprise when they didn't! I really thought that coming to this novel with a more mature perspective and outlook would increase my love for it. After all, I do love the quiet strength of Anne Elliot in Persuasion. And while I liked Mansfield Park more than what I remembered, I'm going to be honest and say it is still my least favorite Austen. While the clever wordplay and passion is still there, I just wasn't as invested in the story, or as interested. It was good, but I didn't think Austen was at her best.
That makes me wonder how many other authors that I love have books that will seem like a disappointment to me (and again, I want to stress that I liked the novel-it just paled in comparison to the other titles in Austen's name). By reading a lot of the "big" titles by these classic authors, will I find myself disappointed when I read their minor works? Will there be multiple books by them that I won't like? Will I get sick of reading them? Those questions taunt me a little, and I suppose I won't know until I read more by the authors I have merely been exposed to.
In any case, Mansfield Park is a book that I will return to again. Perhaps it still isn't the right time for me to click with the story, or see the depth that many other bloggers and readers do. So yes, I will read it again and again. :)
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I'm hoping to read Mansfield Park this year!ReplyDelete
I've read almost all of Austen, now (I'm saving two for this year's Austen in Augst: Emma & Persuasion) and Mansfield Park is the only one that I don't love in some way. That being said, I only got about half-way through with it - I had to stop when school started and just haven't brought myself back to finish it. Maybe I'll do so over Spring break or at the start of Austen in August this year. I do love that the place is the main character - it's an interesting change, but I don't know. We'll see what I have to say whenever I finally finish it. :)ReplyDelete
It's true that MP is probably the least popular Austen. I do think it has its points though. I recently read Nabokov's lectures on MP and that really helped me come to a better appreciation of the book.ReplyDelete
Hi there! I'm the Classics Editor at Riffle Books, an online social book recommendation tool. I've been following your blog and I'm a big fan of your classic literature reviews. I would like to invite you to join Riffle as a Classics Expert. Publishers Weekly recently called it the Pinterst of books. If you're interested, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you an invite! Hope to hear from you soon!ReplyDelete
I second reading essays and lectures on this one, John Mullan's What Matters in Jane Austen is worth a look as it dissects the social rules, issues of money and class etc and really adds to the reading experience. :)ReplyDelete
This review is quite interesting to me. I read Mansfield Park in 2005 and I've read all of Austen's other books. MP has always been my least favorite, but in the back of my head I always thought if I re-read it I might like it more later. Now I'm thinking I might have a similar reaction to your's.ReplyDelete
Perhaps MP is just not the novel for you. While it's true that sometimes we stumble upon a book (or work of art in general) at the wrong time and come to appreciate it later, it's also true that sometimes we never find the connection to it at all. There are times when the issue isn't the moment or even the book, but that connection we can never really predict.ReplyDelete