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The Man in Your Life and Jane Austen

I Love Jane Austen

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Edited: Sep 3, 2007, 6:12pm Top

I was talking to my husband over dinner this evening about this group on LT. One thing led to another, I can't exactly remember what gave me the idea, but I thought it would be a fun topic to talk about how the men in our lives deal with our obsession with all things Austenian.

I am very blessed. My husband never used to go in for "that kind of thing," but once I roped him into watching the first 20 minutes of Thompson's Sense and Sensibility, he was hooked. Now he often wants to watch Austen movies, even when I'm wanting something more action/adventure-packed. It's rather funny really. Tonight he said, "Sometimes it's just what I need. They're such good stories."

Now, mind you, he doesn't read much fiction and I doubt I could tempt him to read P&P, but the important thing is that he loves the culture and cleverness of Austen's stories and even defends them manfully when other guy friends disparage them (did I pick a winner or what?).

So how do you, your significant other, and Jane Austen get along? ;-)

*edited for topic clarity*

Sep 2, 2007, 9:06pm Top

He sounds like a fine specimen! I've generally dated bookish types, and they've all been nice about it - some of them have even been Austen fans. I remember one Christmas, when my then boyfriend was there for the holidays, and we all watched P&P together on BBC Prime - the first episode was on right after we had opened all our gifts, so the timing was perfect! (This was before I had the DVD set, so it was like gift time all over again.)

My current boyfriend, however, is quite the pragmatist. He's a former journalist, now a doctor, and reads very little fiction. We do share a huge passion for Sherlockiana and all things Agatha Christie, but that's about it. (He's simply not interested in characters, it seems.) But we did watch P&P together. It was hilarious. He didn't really say anything about it, except that it was well done. When Mr. Darcy undressed and dove into the pond, however, he raised one eyebrow and said, after a slight pause, 'Ah. I see now. He's quite strapping, isn't he?'.

I thought that was funny.

P.S. Also, he got all excited that Lucy Davis (he recognized her from The Office) was in it, because he never really knows who anyone is on tv.

Sep 3, 2007, 3:53am Top

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Edited: Sep 3, 2007, 6:21am Top

I must admit that I interpreted wisewoman's topic as 'How does your love interest, male or female, gay or straight, deal with your Austen obsession?' That's why I chose not to comment on the gender bias. I'm convinced wisewoman intended for this to be a thread open for everyone with a partner less enamoured with the books and stories than they are.

If anyone would like to start a thread discussing gender bias in, and relating to Jane Austen's books, or stereotyped 'books for women' in general, I'm obviously (if you've seen my library, that is) up for it, however.

Finally, if you're concerned with the amount of threads regarding television adaptations rather than the texts themselves, I suggest you start one, or perhaps a few yourself. I'm quite certain several of us would be just delighted to contribute. The past year I've only managed to sneak in the occasional televised Austen date, and I therefore have no pressing matters relating to the texts to discuss at the moment.

(Corrected: Austen/Astuen - blasphemy!)

Sep 3, 2007, 10:19am Top

FoxHunter wrote: "Sorry, I didn't realise one had to be a woman to appreciate the novels of Jane Austen."

I'm sorry, FoxHunter, that is not what I intended at all. I reread my opening post and I don't see really where you pulled that idea. My template being my husband and I does not at all exclude discussion, as desideo put it, on "How does your love interest, male or female, gay or straight, deal with your Austen obsession?" By all means, discuss as you will. The fact that my situation is what it is does not automatically exclude other situations. I think you are getting offended over something entirely unintentional.

I was thinking more along the lines of movies, since again, that is my experience, but I'm not trying to limit anyone to my experience. It was never my intention to start a controversy here.

FoxHunter wrote: Discussion in this Group seems rather more concerned with film and television adaptations rather than the texts."

I'm new-ish to the group still, but I assure you that from everything I've seen, we are only discussing movies out of our love for the books. We've simply happened to be discussing the film versions more lately.

desideo wrote: "If anyone would like to start a thread discussing gender bias in, and relating to Jane Austen's books, or stereotyped 'books for women' in general, I'm obviously (if you've seen my library, that is) up for it, however.

That's actually a rabbit trail I was hoping we might follow in this thread. I once heard someone say there are no chick flicks; there are simply good movies and bad movies. That's the philosophy I tend to take. Or if there are "chick flicks," they fall under the category of bad movies.

Edited: Sep 3, 2007, 11:25am Top

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Sep 3, 2007, 11:40am Top

Oh, don't go away, foxhunter! Your post certainly sparked discussion, which is a good thing.

Alas, I have nothing to contribute regarding the original purpose of the thread. :-)

Sep 3, 2007, 1:10pm Top

My husband wouldn't read Jane Austen because he prefers books that are more plot-driven than character-driven. Most often he reads about one page of a book and then falls asleep, and that just doesn't work with Austen.

As for the movies, he has watched some of them, or parts of some. He's usually pretty quiet about them until I ask his opinion, and then he makes some pretty funny joke about how bored he was . . . I'm not sure how sincere he is about his boredom, I kinda think he likes to play it up just to tease me. But I acknowledge that Jane Austen just isn't his cup of tea, and that's perfectly okay.

He does like the Bridget Jones's Diary remake of P&P though. And he knows better than to diss either of Collin Firth's Mr. Darcys. :-)

Edited: Sep 3, 2007, 1:13pm Top

>4 clareborn:, We were discussing the gender bias/women's books issue over in the Girlybooks group for a while, but discussion seems to have petered out. I think it might be interesting to revive it over here in the context of Jane Austen.


Sep 3, 2007, 1:45pm Top

FoxHunter, it's okay. Don't worry about it in the least. I wish we at least had emoticons to convey tone, but we must do what we can without them. I can't think of a man who reads Austen books and watches Austen movies as "pompous," so we're good there ;-). And don't shut up, please.

I should watch Bridget Jones' Diary... /off-topic...

Sep 3, 2007, 2:08pm Top

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Sep 3, 2007, 2:12pm Top

I think we are spending a lot of time talking about the TV/Movie adaptations because there are so many new ones out. After all, the books are almost 200 years old. They are great to talk about, but it is good to have new things to discuss, too.

Sep 4, 2007, 1:52am Top

My hubby doesn't read - AT ALL! My friends and family were all amazed when they realised I'd married a non-reader (I have to admit I never thought I'd end up with a non-reader myself, but one can't help where one's heart leads!). He has no interest in books, although he does a very good job of looking as if he's listening when I talk about something I'm reading and makes all the right noises in all the right places, but he may well just be getting very well practised - LOL! He doesn't watch any of the films or TV adaptations either, but since he's a postie and has a nap in the afternoons and works most Saturday mornings, I just watch them on a Saturday all by myself if there are any I haven't seen or fancy watching again.

Edited: Sep 4, 2007, 8:56am Top

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Sep 4, 2007, 1:47pm Top

*picks up Foxhunter's marbles and hands them back with a curtsey*


Are you referring to the infamous American version of the Knightley P&P? Elizabeth and Darcy have evidently gone swimming in the lake in front of Pemberley and are sitting on a big rock. They have a little badinage about what Darcy is to call Lizzie, and it ends with Darcy calling her "Mrs. Darcy" again and again as he kisses her. I didn't mind it terribly the first time I saw it but it's one of those things that you get annoyed with after you have heard about other people's annoyance with it.

(Oh, and I edited the opening post of this thread for clarity.)

Sep 4, 2007, 4:13pm Top

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Sep 4, 2007, 4:27pm Top

While we are on it, how did any other versions of P&P end?

Sep 7, 2007, 3:55pm Top

re: gender gap

When I was in college I took a semester of Jane Austen (taught by an official Austenite -- she had a membership pin and everything!), and there was only one guy in our class. I thought it really strange; none of my other literature classes were like that....

Recently, I read an article about gender and fiction. My beau does seem to read more nonfiction than I do, but still, he likes a good story and I wish more people generally did -- yay for LT! It is so encouraging!
Anyway, here's the link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14175229&ft=1&f=103...

Edited: Jan 3, 2008, 1:32am Top

My husband professes to dislike Jane Austen, but he's usually the one taping Austen-related shows on television or suggesting that we go see the latest film adaptation. (He also loved Bridget Jones's Diary.)

I'm convinced that if hubby actually cracked open a book and gave Austen's written work another chance, he'd be captivated. What happened to him is what happened to all too many unfortunates: he was made to read her books in school when he was still far too young to appreciate them. (I tried to read Pride and Prejudice at age 15 and didn't care for it; luckily, I tried again a few years later and was at last able to perceive and enjoy Austen's subtlety, wit and - especially - her irony.)

Jan 5, 2008, 7:54pm Top

My husband doesn't read fiction either although he's been working on a John Grisham book for a couple of months now. ;) He watched one Jane Austen movie with me - ET's S&S - but he didn't like it. Too much (to quote him) "drinking tea and romance" in it for him. LOL I've got him loving Anne of Green Gables movies and we just watched Elizabeth Gaskell's "North & South" which he liked. But Jane Austen doesn't have enough action for him. So, I watch my JA movies and read her books in the other room. While I'm watching PBS this year on Sunday nights, he'll be watching American Gladiators. :)

Jan 27, 2008, 7:51am Top

Interesting topic (again! I'm still sitting in my night gown, and it's almost 2pm!).

My boyfriend doesn't like Jane Austen or any costume drama much. But the dialogues sometimes make him smile.

I don't have any film adaption myself, so I don't see them often. I reread Jane Austen's books whenever I feel like it. It's sometimes nice to be both reading in the same room.

He likes to read books about travelling and photography.

Jan 27, 2008, 9:07am Top

Funny thread, my DH put up with me a few years ago when I was obsessed with the book and the movie (1995) and then subsequently had a major crush on Colin Firth. I read tons of fanfiction online (wrote one myself based on the story in a Beatles 1960's setting) and he was so good natured about all of it (even when I actually met CF!) he just chuckled and shook his head, he knew it wouldn't last forever - and he was right! He enjoyed the miniseries (he's watched it more than once) and he went to see the 2005 movie with me (bleh! we both agreed it couldn't compare to the 1995 version), but he hasn't read any Austen books himself. Even my 13 yr. old son knows who Mr. Darcy is and the story of P&P - I told him when he's in high school he'll appreciate it when it comes time to studying it! LOL!

Feb 19, 2008, 5:02pm Top

Re: >18 paulacs:

P&P was assigned in College as required reading for my Romantic English Literature class (referring to the intellectual movement). So in amongst the Blake and Byron was Jane. Our class was split down the middle in terms of gender, so I have no doubt that more guys ended up reading Jane than would have in an Austen-centric class.

I think there are a lot of guys out there who see Jane and her works as a chick-thing and avoid her like the plague.

Feb 19, 2008, 7:21pm Top

I took a Romantic English Lit class too, and we did Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats and Austen (we were supposed to do Byron too, but the prof cancelled it at the last minute because he hated him). So, similar to your class, except we read Mansfield Park. The class was almost half male, and it was in seminar format--which meant all conversation. At first some of the guys balked a bit at Jane Austen, but as the discussions got going, for the most part they came around and were as into it as the women. Mind you, these are all English major and minor students, so probably more prone to like this sort of book than the type of guy who reads nothing but Tom Clancey. The first week or so of Jane Austen, a few of the guys made very mild negative comments, but when we finished, every one of them found something good to say about it. Several had studied Middlemarch (George Eliot) the previous term, and they all prefered Austen.

Feb 19, 2008, 11:28pm Top

Ah what an interesting thread. My husband actually gave me the Firth/Ehle P&P as a present and watched the whole thing with me. He has also watched much of the masterpiece theater series with me.

He has not read the books. We've had several discussions about the gender divide and Jane Austen and how interesting that so many of the military men are off fighting in the Nepoleonic Wars we just get to see the drawing room slice.

When I asked him about it just now he said he was all for Jane Austen as long as it was offset by the Master and Commander on occassion.

I too was had a Romantics class which featured Austen and I found that many women had found there love of Austen in High School while many of the men in the class were having their first read of Austen.

I wonder if part of the divide has to do with identifying with a character or characters in a novel. Of course I generally find no problem identifying with male characters but I confess there are times when I hit a great American mysogynist writer who says something about women and it jars against me as a reader.

Feb 20, 2008, 10:54am Top

#25- I too was had a Romantics class which featured Austen and I found that many women had found there love of Austen in High School while many of the men in the class were having their first read of Austen.

This reminds me of something else from my Romantic lit class . . . There were a couple of women who were big time Austen fans, but it seemed to me that the majority of the class was experiencing Austen for the first time. This was a 3rd-year class, so (with rare exception), the students were all at least 19 years old. Also, the English classes are organized by time periods (eg: Victorian Lit, Early 20th Century, and, yes, the Romantic period). One day the young woman sitting next to me turned to me and asked "Is Jane Austen still alive?" I just about fell off my chair.

Feb 20, 2008, 1:42pm Top

*falls off her chair*


Feb 20, 2008, 2:05pm Top

My 18 year old son is taking an AP English Lit class. The other day at dinner he commented that the best book they've read was Pride and Prejudice. They've done quite a variety and I was somewhat surprised, he being a self-described geek and wants to be a pilot and engineer! He even went to the teacher's house to watch the "4 hour version" on video (not sure which one they watched), but then extra credit was involved, too.

Feb 20, 2008, 7:20pm Top

*falls off her chair*



I know. It was a year ago, and it still amazes me. To get into the class you had to take at minimum two first-year English courses and two-second year courses. Plus, the entire curriculum is organized by time periods. Everyone in these classes is either an English major or minor. How do you get that far in the post-secondary system and not realize what it is you're studying? I would have loved to have read her essays.

Feb 21, 2008, 8:25am Top

Re 29> "How do you get that far in the post-secondary system and not realize what it is you're studying?"

In my college, it was called "student athlete."

Feb 22, 2008, 6:19am Top

My boys will happily watch an adaptation but wouldn't pick up a book. My husband has read all the novels since I became interested, even though he really likes fantasy novels best.

Feb 23, 2008, 9:08pm Top

mess 26

I run into the "Is so-and-so still alive?" all the time. I think it happens when someone connects with the writing and they find it hard to believe that it could have been written so very long ago.

Mar 2, 2010, 3:33pm Top

Before we even began dating my husband read P&P when he found out it was my favorite novel of all time. I think he wanted to use it as a conversation piece "...ah, yes as in a book I was just reading...what was it...oh yes, Pride and Prejudice." :)
He did use it-he asked me if I was more like Elizabeth or Jane. I still don't know what my answer is, although I'm sure he's come to his own conclusions. :)
He's not real big on the movies. I think I could persuade him to watch it with me (by no means the BBC P&P unfortunately though) but I can tell it's not his thing so I don't push it.
That being said, I turned on Persuasion this morning while cleaning the house. He was leaving for work and before I realized (or he, I'm sure) he was standing near the door watching the movie. HA HA! Caught ya! :)

Mar 2, 2010, 4:14pm Top

Has your husband ever read any of the other Austen novels?

My wife is the person who inadvertently created a monster when she took me to see Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility in 1995. Neither she nor I could have imagined that I would become so utterly taken over by Jane Austen that SHE would cringe when I'd want to tell her about my latest discovery in Austen's novels or biography.

Be careful what you wish for, as the old Chinese proverb advises us.

Mar 4, 2010, 9:42am Top

That's funny. But no, he's not read any of her other novels. He's not a huge reader (unless of course it's sci fi, then he's all over it) :)
I've been on a Georgette Heyer kick and the first couple books I'd tell him about as I was reading. It bored the mess out of him I could tell, so I gave up. :) And he stopped asking what my gasps and laughs were about. ha ha

Mar 4, 2010, 10:39am Top

My husband will watch the movies with me, like it seems most partners will, but puts a limit on how often and he thinks that now that he has read P&P & Zombies that that counts toward having read P&P. I have to say I did enjoy him reading that book because he kept coming to me and asking "did this really happen this way" or "how did this actually occur in the real book?" So I got to have full discussions with him about P&P and it really made me happy.

And I feel I should mention that anytime Colin Firth is on TV he'll just stare at me and laugh while I get all 12 year old girlie and giggle :). And he gets very proud of himself when there are Austen related questions on Jeopardy or something that he gets right and will just stare at me as if to say "See I know stuff about her just because I love you, aren't I just the best husband ever!"

Mar 4, 2010, 1:45pm Top

If either of your husbands is into crossword puzzles, tell him to read the following post I wrote today on my Austen blog:


It's my fantasy that many men who would never read Jane Austen for any reason, might be drawn to read her novels if they knew that her novels are filled with puzzles, as I explain in my post.

Apr 10, 2010, 10:14pm Top

My husband read Pride and Prejudice but he much prefers the mini-series. He does however roll his eyes at my reading about Jane and her era, just a little too obsessed for him.

Apr 12, 2010, 10:30am Top

I actually had to persuade my wife to take an interest in Austen. She thought my love of Austen was a little eccentric, until I talked her into watching the BBC miniseries of Persuasion. Now, she's a fan, as well.

Apr 12, 2010, 6:05pm Top

I hope you mean the 1971 and not the 2007 Persuasion!

Group: I Love Jane Austen

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