In memoriam: 200 years after her death, Jane Austen fascinates

On July 18, 1817, Jane Austen died at the age of 41, a relatively unknown author who would, eventually, become a paragon of English literature. She is also an author who has greatly influenced my life from an early age to today.

Pondering the impact of her work, I updated my Goodreads reviews for each of her novels to include thoughts on each title and corresponding movie adaptations. I am assembling a list of links to these reviews here for Medium readers. I hope this will lead readers to new or renewed discoveries of this classic authoress.

In keeping with a tribute published on this anniversary of her death, I will start with the later half of my comments on her final work, Persuasion…

“I’ve often wondered if Austen knew she was dying, and Anne’s story was a contemplation of the arc of her own life, and perhaps some near misses at finding love for herself. Yet, Miss Elliot’s narrative, while thoughtful, is not discouraging, and ends with the bright hope that difficulties from the past can be favorably resolved. As I’ve gotten older, Anne’s maturity has improved upon me like fine wine, and today (as I am now older than Jane at the time of her death), I give Anne Elliot much more credit than I did in the days of my youth. She belongs here, a gift from Jane Austen. The presence of Anne Elliot among these heroines adds a valuable contribution to the graceful aging of Jane’s work.

Persuasion is the most mature writing we will ever get from Jane Austen, and I wonder what and how she would have wrote about the lives of women in her later years. I would love to read an Austen novel in which a mother rears her children, guiding them through those turbulent young years, or a story in which the matron of the family is the heroine. But the stories ceased when Austen died, relatively unknown and unheralded, at age 41. Perhaps that feeling of incomplete genius is why so many have tried — unsuccessfully — to add to Austen’s legacy creating an entire industry of Austentrash. Don’t be lead astray by the counterfeits! These novels are worth your time!”

Persuasion, Austen, 1817

Northanger Abbey, Austen, 1817

Sense & Sensibility, Austen, 1811

Pride & Prejudice, Austen, 1813

Mansfield Park, Austen, 1814

Emma, Austen, 1815