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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By D. Littman on 06-14-12
one of the best books I've heard recently
This a great book, probably better for listening than for reading I suspect. It is well-narrated, well-paced, always interesting and stimulating, and oddly enough, it might leave you a better person at the end (without any preaching at all). The author successfully interweaves his own life story (perhaps being a bit hard-hearted on himself, for effect ... hard to know), with Jane Austen's life story and her time, with the main plot points and characters of Austen's novels. The interplay between these three sets of stories is what makes the book so exciting to listen to -- things that happen to the author, to Austen and to her characters I mean. I recommend this book highly.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
By Cookie on 06-23-11
A real joy!
This book was like taking a collage class later in life and rereading the books you loved (or not) with the advantage of wanting to take the class. We are brought along the life of the author told with an Austen like storyline. The stroll though the books (with no spoilers) and the insights into reall life applications are so concrete and pithy as to make me wish I had thought of "that". Historical detail into Austen's life is perfectly woven though the story as well. Oh, if only Jane Austen had written more books, this book could have been longer. The reader was great.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful