The stories and characters written by Jane Austen have endured over time and social mores because she was right about human nature. She had a profound understanding of the fundamental truths that form desires, motivations and boundaries that, in turn, create personality and affect decisions. She brings all of this together and writes stories that are suspenseful, surprising, satisfying and meaningful. Even though she wrote in the early 1800s, her novels connect with readers today. We don't just want to read them, we want to see them and hear them. Luckily, there have been some exceptional big and small screen adaptations.
Thank goodness we have Jane. She keeps us tethered to who we are. Since her time there have been too many confusing explanations of human nature. Let's take Freud for instance. Over time his ideas have been questioned and have become more and more irrelevant. Not Austen's version of human nature. Even though she precedes Freud by almost 100 years, we are still invested and interested in her characters because she was keenly perceptive about human nature. She got it right.
I am reading Austen's Emma now, because when I visit family in Utah next month we are going to have a Jane Austen Book Club night with the girls. I'm looking forward to it. Even though I know the story, it is fun to read. I'm still full of expectation. The first paragraph in the book describes Emma like this:
Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition seemed to unite some of the best blessing of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
With the punch of "very little to distress or vex her," you know it is going to be a bumpy ride for Emma. I can't help smiling along with Jane.