Reviewing the Classics #1: Persuasion

I study English, Dutch and French Literature and Linguistics at a shmancy university, and I know it.

Throughout the years, there’s been a huge amount of importance put on how we’re supposed to be reading all these classics, how they are what made literature into what it is today, and so on, and so forth…

What exactly is, or even makes a classic, that’s something no two professors of mine have actually agreed on so far, apart then, from the part where we have to read them – we even get marked on it!
To some extent this has made me discover some new works I really like – to an even larger extent, it’s made me dislike books before I even opened them, for no other reason than that I had to read them.
In short – it’s a pity, because I do tend to like a lot of them, once I can get myself to read them.
In long – one of my goals, personal goals, a subdivision of a subdivision of the reading one, which I mention in my New Years Resolutions, is to start writing some reviews of (some of) the books I read, and to have some of those be classics – both to give myself a chance to read them under smoother conditions, and to make sure I actually go in with an open mind.
One of my all-time favourite authors is, without a doubt, Jane Austen, so to ease myself into this whole thing a bit, I figured I’d start with one of my favourite works by her: Persuasion – so let’s get started!
This post is not sponsored in any way or form. It does however, contain affiliate links.

Jane Austen

Let’s just start at the very beginning here, and re-affirm that it’s a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is, without a doubt, one of the writers who has shaped all writing in the western world because of her work. Whether you love her or hate her (and I’ve found that very few people seem to have any feelings on the matter that are anywhere between those two extremes) that much, at least, can be confirmed.
Second of all, Persuasion is not, by a long call, her most known or most loved work. It is often described as being “less polished” than her previous work because Austen died before she had the chance to rework as thoroughly as she did her other novels.

Story and characters

None the less, from the moment I started reading Persuasion, there was just something, both about the characters and Austen familiar style which absolutely grabbed me. More than many others of her novels – more so, even, than Sense and Sensibility, which I feel does this a lot – Persuasion is a novel which talks about people thinking, rather than acting on their emotions, feelings, and so on.
Especially Anne, the main character, is a victim of this illness: it was not acting on her emotions, rather than those of her surroundings, which got her where she is now: the eldest of Austens female leads, watching “sensibly” as her love seems to be walking away.
(There’s a reason I feel like this song and the clips from this movie-adaptation go together so well)
It is probably this inability to act which has made quite a lot of people deem this book as the most “boring” one of Austen’s works.
However, that slow pace, that studying of all of one’s feelings (and trust me, there’s a lot of that going on here) is exactly what got me so into this book – more so than in any other of Jane Austens novels, I felt as if we were truly allowed to watch as Anne and Captain Wentworth come back together, in spite of the social system that Austen is, once again, “fighting against”.
What’s more, for me, Captain Wentworth was actually the most likable of all of Austen’s male heroes, just as Anne Eliot’s family seemed probably the most irritating, annoying, and – dare I even say it – naive of all families.

Narration

As usual, Austen’s style is impeccable – even if she wasn’t able to polish it completely to her will – her painting of scenery and landscape is extremely vivid, the ending as happy as you could wish for – but it’s the characters that make you stay and hope for the best for just about all of them….
Or, in the case of the unholy duo of annoying-ness, Mrs Clay and Mr Elliot, for an unceasing bout of bad luck – I liked Elizabeth better than those two. :s

Overall

This is probably one of my favourite classics of all times, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this book has gotten 5 stars out of 5 in any and every rating I’ve ever given it ever. This work may not be as popular as Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility or even Emma, but that does not mean it is any less worth reading – as a matter of fact, I’d probably advise it over the ones mentioned above!
Have you read this book yet? If so, what did you think of it? Are you a fan of Austen’s work? Or do you have any other classics you think I should review? Be sure to let me know below!
-Saar