Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Books ate my Life

16 Jan

Kristine will be back to her regular blogging schedule as soon as she reads through the last 100 pages of “Pride and Prejudice.”

Drat you, Jane Austen.

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14 Jan

I promised myself I would blog every day but Sunday. I thought I could get beyond that 14 day burst of energy that takes out most New Year’s Resolutions. And then I let myself down, and let you down by disappearing anyway, right on schedule with most people who have more good intentions and not so much stick-to-it-iveness.

So here I am, making an effort, putting out one more post when I’ve been struggling to find the words the last few days, as I come to terms with a shift in diagnosis that rattled me a whole lot more than I care to admit.

Someday I’ll talk about it. I promise you that much, because let’s face it, I’m not good at keeping things to myself. (Note to readers: Don’t share secrets with me). I guess I’m asking for a little more time, a little more patience as I sort things out.

I’ll be ok because I promised myself I would be. And I’ll be here to talk about books again (probably tomorrow, I have some book reviews I really need to post), and housekeeping, and pets, and children, and all that other nonsense that I fill this space with.

Who knows, I might even talk a little about That New Book I’m Writing, or even a little bit of Work (though I’m not officially working. Shh…).

Tonight, I’m going to curl in bed with “Pride and Prejudice” and read until my eyes close, hoping to dream of better things than I have the last few nights. Maybe some time with Mr. Darcy will improve my outlook.

Tomorrow will be more positive than today.

Tomorrow will be BETTER than today.

Tomorrow will be the start of Moving On. I hope you’ll stick around to see this journey through with me. I think it’s going to be fun.

Austen and autism

5 Jan

Ah, it’s been a wonderful week so far – not even that. The list on the side of the page, those books I’m currently reading, have just about all changed out. Sadly “Sink Reflections” will take a bit longer – I keep pausing to put into practice what I read. But hoping that I can press on shortly so the next book waiting in the wings can take its rightful place.

So, something old has moved on to “Daddy-long-legs” – a novel that flies by and will likely hit completion yet this weekend. I remember reading this book years ago – and loving it.

Something new..that’s where all of this gets interesting.

I’ve tried reading Jane Austen before. Years ago I made the attempt more than once, especially since I have a best friend who is near fanatical on her writings. But much as I tried I would stop, usually as the result of confusion. To be honest I started questioning WHY Austen proved so hard. The language is certainly a bit more unwieldy and the references are dated. But more than that, I failed to understand the action, to the point of questioning whether I was intelligent enough to even take on the classics.

But then realizing as well with an IQ somewhere past 140, that last wasn’t likely, there had to be a more reasonable explanation.

Was it the history? Not necessarily. I’ve spent a great deal of time in studying the past. I have a BA in history which must be worth something (to date, it’s getting the most workout with using Durant’s Story of┬áCivilization┬áto homeschool the kids). But I have a clear enough understanding of 18th and early 19th century life to understand what a barouche might be and enough French to muddle through the phrases thrown about “Daddy-long-legs” with confidence.

Even the language isn’t difficult if you take the time to read it. In fact the descriptions are quite well-done and the turn of phrase very nicely accomplished.

The answer I think lies in my autism.

I have Asperger’s Syndrome, something formally diagnosed a handful of years back that really helped me to understand a lot about myself that I never did previously. One of those things was the terrify muddle of social interaction – the inflection, the tone of conversation being my biggest downfall. I never ‘got’ the unwritten rules of things (apologies to everyone I offended so badly in my teen years and before) and quite often missed completely the undertones in a conversation completely.

But isn’t that what Austen is about?

After reading “Sense and Sensibility” I’ll admit to a fair amount of frustration that so much of what transpired in the book could have been avoided completely if people would just SAY WHAT THEY MEAN.

Oy.

Austen is rich in inflection. In undertone. And quite honestly, back when I first started to read her, I understood so LITTLE of that, I had really no hope at all in making any kind of sense of what was really going on in her books at all. Hence my frustration, and why I quit.

Over the years, especially since diagnosis, I’ve spent a lot of time in reading, in research, and yes even in therapy coming back to the same questions time and again. What are the people around me REALLY saying (or asking) when they initiate a dialogue with me. I am continually astonished at the things I’ve learned about how we communicate now.

And even more so when I pick up Austen and actually catch what she’s really saying in a complicated piece of dialogue. I am DELIGHTED by her skill with words.

And equally positive that about 2/3 of it is still flying right over my head.

With that thought in mind that means I can likely enjoy Austen again later. Moreso as I age, and grow and learn. Something to look forward to.

So I pick up “Pride and Prejudice” with anticipation and not dread this time around. I think I might actually ‘get it’ or at least enough of it to really enjoy the story. I can’t wait.

Though I can’t help but wonder…is this the reason why most people on the autism spectrum don’t enjoy fiction very much at all? It’s a mind-boggling thought. And certainly bears further analysis.