Friday, April 20, 2012
When I posed my questions to her on this most recent visit, I was ecstatic to learn she would soon be studying Frankenstein, a novel I adore. Ever since our conversation, I keep dwelling on the notion of how fabulous it would be to once again be reading such a phenomenon of a book for the first time. I feel this way about so many great novels. To be able to pick up Anna Karenina for the first time again - or Madame Bovary, Les Miserables, or Villette - would be my one of my wildest fantasies come true. Of course, this doubly applies to everything by Jane Austen, whose books have been so familiar for so long that I cannot even remember my first impressions of them. It makes me feel so sad not to be able to remember my initial response to Northanger Abbey, the first Austen novel I ever read. I am even more depressed that the response was that of a child, unable to comprehend Austen's full genius. Perhaps this impossible longing to revisit these works for the first time again has been exacerbated by the fact I am currently reading David M. Shapards fabulously annotated edition of Emma. Those who have read my reviews of his other editions (here and here, if you're interested) know how much I adore his notes, though there is little in them, at this point, that I find terribly enlightening. I enjoy his take on the novels, and reading the annotations is like being in a book club, delving into the intricacies of the plot with another devotee, but I am no longer learning much from the experience. I begin to worry that I know Austen too well: that I have completely left behind me any hope of real surprise in her work. Ah, sweet Novelty! How I do regret your loss!
And this, my friends, is how one finds oneself addicted to Austenesque.,