If Jane Austen lived today, she'd be a blogger

Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:26am EST
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Dear reader, if Jane Austen lived today, she'd be an avid blogger, she'd be on Facebook, and of course she'd also be tweeting away -- but mostly about other people, not herself.

That's because Austen had a passionate fascination with people and what made them who they were, an interest that keeps the modern world fascinated by the woman who wrote novels set in small villages nearly 200 years ago, said Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of an anthology of Austen-inspired stories.

"She would definitely be on Twitter, out there having fun. Blogging, connecting with people. Facebook," said Nattress in a phone interview about her book, "Jane Austen Made Me Do It."

"She loved understanding how people ticked, and you see that in her characterizations and her plots. So I think that the whole social networking thing would fascinate her too, because you learn more about people."

Nattress first read Austen as a schoolgirl, but her passion for the writer who gave the world "Sense and Sensibility" and a handful of other novels didn't truly begin until 1980, when a television production of "Pride and Prejudice" made the world of Regency England come alive for her.

"I loved the era, I loved the gentility, I loved the respect that the characters had for each other. I love their dialogue -- that sharp, witty, funny dialogue," she said.

"I wasn't really pleased with what life was happening around me, and so I saw this fabulous world 200 years ago. It was just amazing how civil these people were, the gentility and civility were really striking, I think, (compared) with what we were seeing on television."

Nattress immediately re-read "Pride and Prejudice," although she said she struggled a bit with the language at first, and then the other books. It was the start of a love affair that has led her to read the book again every year.   Continued...