The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Weekly Geeks Answers – Final Round

Posted on: July 23, 2008

Hope it hasn’t been mentioned and my old eyes have deceived me, but have you seen the PBS version of Persuasion? I really enjoyed the whole PBS Jane Austen series.Tasses

No, I’m afraid not. I tend to avoid Austen adaptations unless there’s something in the advertising that indicates the director produced something beyond the ordinary. More importantly, I’m not even sure if I have PBS. But I remember reading reviews of it online and viewers feeling much the same as you did.

With all the Wyndham you’ve been reading, can you tell us which one appealed to you most? What about him made you want to read multiple titles?

Also, re: Wide Sargasso Sea — do you have an opinion in general on the writing of “sequels” using another author’s characters?Melanie

The Chrysalids retains its top spot because my reread revealed why images of it had stayed with me from boarding school (even if I couldn’t remember specific details). It’s also the best developed one in terms of plot and theme.

Generally when I find an author I like I seek out his other titles immediately. Penguin’s re-release of much of his backlist and the novels’ short length made it all too easy for me to gorge.

In general I lay a pox on authors who go about messing with other books in order to write pre- or sequels. I’m a huge Austen fan but I’ll never read those Darcy’s Diary claptrap. I made an exception for Wide Sargasso Sea because it’s a) considered a classic and b) Rhys wrote other novels that are also well-regarded.

On Literature and Knowledge: Is this more a theoretical book or more an op-ed from the author? Do you disagree with any of the author’s arguments?bookchronicle

Ahhh, it’s a bit of both with the op-ed strain being a bit more dominant. She goes to some lengths to define and elucidate an understanding of “knowledge” different from the scientific and, ergo, arguing for literature’s importance as is rather than trying to torture it into the objective paradigm.

I’ve read it months ago but I do remember being sceptical about her support for the idea that literature nurtures empathetic knowledge in readers. It’s a library book though, so I don’t have a copy here to go into more details. Hope I was clear enough!

How do you think Persuasion compares to other Austen novels? Would you recommend it to someone new to the author, or would you tell them to try something else first?Christine

Oh, I love it. Here’s my ranking, leaving out P&P because I’ve forgotten how much I like it and so must re-read to make things clear. Emma‘s first, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and Persuasion are all tied in for 2nd place because I can’t decide which I like better, while Sense and Sensibility languishes at the bottom because it’s good Austen but I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

You know, it all depends on what kind of reader the newbie is. All of Austen’s major novels are of a certain quality that renders that issue irrelevant. NA may not have MP’s complex architecture but it has a persuasive, enchanting element coupled with Austen’s judicious eye that wins readers over, for example. It’s more about what that new reader is likely to connect with first because, despite similar themes, Austen’s novels vary in style and focus, she brings different things to the fore in her works. I suppose most would go with P&P because it’s considered THE book but that’s a boring tactic, don’t you think? Sometimes it’s neater to take a divergent path even if you end up at the same finishing point.

Thanks to everyone for the great questions!

2 Responses to "Weekly Geeks Answers – Final Round"

Yeah… I’d probably go with P&P myself — because, as you say, it is the book. Persuasion is one of the Austens I’ve never read, so it was interesting to get your take on it. Thanks!

I would recommend Emma–I think it’s the best of the six and also very accessible to someone who’s never read Austen.

My ranking would go something like this: Emma, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park (which is funnier than I think a lot of people realize, and some days it would even be my #2), Sense & Sensibility, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey. But they are all wonderful.

Incidentally, I did not like the PBS version of Persuasion, but I thought they did a really good job with Northanger Abbey.

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