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Below are the 6 most recent journal entries recorded in Books Are Thicker Than Water's LiveJournal:

Sunday, June 24th, 2007
10:07 am
[caitrin]
Another take?
I just read the young adult novel Anyone But You by Lara Zeises. I'd recommend it both because it's a great book and because it plays with some of the themes of Emma. At one point, a character watches Clueless (which, as we all know, is based on Emma), and this seems like sort of a throwaway detail, but then you realize that it's very deliberate. Subtle, but deliberate.

In other news, sorry I haven't posted recently. laissez_tomber and I are actually seeing each other today - getting fancy ice cream at the Ritz - so I'll read Emma on the train and have more to say soon.
Thursday, June 7th, 2007
9:52 pm
[laissez_tomber]
Emma Chapters 1-5
I think first, I need to confess that I'm mostly an amateur at this whole "classic literature" thing (the closest I've come, recently, was A Room With A View). I've been trying frantically to remember the last time I saw Clueless on TV, and I'm trying to predict what I think will happen. Harriet *will* end up with Mr. Martin, right? And does Emma wind up with Mr. Elton, or simply get embarrassed when she realizes he's actually sweet on her, and instead wind up with her brother-in-law? But if that's the case, it should all be able to be resolved fairly quickly, so how come the book is so long?? (I generally can't help but try to figure out the "plot" of things -- even the rollercoasters last year when I was in Orlando!) I'm also not fantastically in love with Emma's father. He's a little too stick-in-the-mud for me to find him truly sympathetic. I understand how it's supposed to be funny, but when he ruins the dinner party... *sigh*. I do think that Emma herself is an extremely sympathetic character; she's definitely written a little toungue-in-cheek, which is a testament to Austin's skill as a writer: Austin seems simultaneously to be rooting for Emma and affectionately laughing at her with us. I also like the intrigue of Harriet's past (sure to be dramatically revealed!), and the burning question of chapter five: how good for Emma is their friendship?
9:24 am
[caitrin]
Emma online
You can find a plain text version of Emma here. It's useful for copying and pasting quotes. Or for doing a bit of reading at work without taking out a suspicious-looking book. Not that I'm advocating that, or anything.
8:55 am
[caitrin]
Emma, Chapter 1: We meet the lady in question.
(Yes, I've read 1-5, but I realized I had a lot to say, so I'm writing a few more manageable posts rather than one huge one.)

"Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her."

Austen's most memorable opening line is undoubtedly that of Pride and Prejudice ("It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."), but I'd say this one from Emma runs a close second. It is amazing in its combination of utter normality and audacity. It doesn't say anything particularly startling, and this is, perhaps, what is most surprising. If Emma's life is so perfect, why are we reading about her? This isn't how novels are supposed to start. What's going on here? And so, clearly, we must keep reading in order to find out just what this author is trying to do.

This opening line also suggests that Emma is one of those people. You know, pretty, rich, smart, socially adept, seemingly perfect in every way. One of those people we all hate, or at least wish we could hate, because it seems that they have everything without even trying. We usually don't like to read about those people, at least not as sympathetic main characters. But this is Austen, and she knows this, so we have to wonder - is she deliberately setting up a heroine, a title character, even, for her readers to dislike, at least at the beginning? This is a risky move; some readers may simply stop reading before they get far enough to find out whether this is the case. But, if it works, it frees the novel from many of the constraints of the typical novel format of its time. Many of Austen's predecessors wrote novels (generally considered to be for women) featuring paragons of virtue who often came across as annoying and insipid in their perfection. At the beginning of Emma, Austen takes this traditional set-up and pushes it over the top, so we know that she's in on the joke - we aren't supposed to like Emma right now, and it is this that allows for much of the humor that is to come.
Tuesday, June 5th, 2007
9:27 pm
[caitrin]
Republic of Pemberley
The Republic of Pemberley is a great Austen site with resources, a discussion board, etc.
7:49 pm
[caitrin]
Here we go!
Yay! Our very own book discussion community. Yes, this is mostly a test post.

Current Mood: excited
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