Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wud you like to turn the page now?

Watching The Jane Austen Book Club, a movie that came thoroughly recommended by members of my own book club, I cudnt help wondering if life really is like a book, specifically one of Jane Austen's books. I mean, if you think about it, maybe it's like this. The non-readers think what happens is fate. But the readers, they know, all along, that it's all just part of the narrative, life is like a story-line.

Besides, as my friend M. points out, present-day India isn't all that different from eighteenth century Victorian England that Austen wrote about.

Everyone thinks about marriage and people pair up, sometimes even with the right person and there are these big fat families with these stereotypical characters and their money issues, and the need to do what is proper against the desire to try the most inappropriate thing we possibly can.

Perhaps, it's all becoz people havent really changed all that much over the last two centuries. Circumstances might have altered, societies have supposedly evolved but our emotions are just as confused and confounding at times.

Well, about the movie, it's pretty interesting, especially if you've read all the Austen books. Each character is sort of based on an Austen character type. The marry-everybody-off-and-gossip-about-it lady, the never-say-die romantic, the beautiful-but-bashful woman, the passionate-but-picks-the-wrong-partner girl, the sensible Plain Jane who finally finds true love and of course, the quiet, handsome, misunderstood Mr. Nice Guy. Six books and six people in the book club. And the events of the book subtly parallel the events of their lives, and the decisions they make are mirrored with those Jane Austen wrote for her characters.

Like my friends said, it's not necessary to have read the books, but already having read them will provide an added dimension.

In fact the movie is exactly like a Jane Austen book, too. You can see the happy ending coming from a mile off but we learn a lot about these people as we go along, we care about them and we cheer when they do get their happy endings.

I cud argue that life doesn't provide happy endings to everyone, and working in a hospital puts that in even sharper perspective. But perhaps that's becoz life is like an Austen book without the direct payoffs, if she'd written them to be longer and more complicated. Even in her books, not everyone has a happy ending, and often, choices are shown to have wildly unpredictable consequences. In her books, those that are too charming are never to be trusted and almost every character has hidden depths.

I like how the movie talks about the minor characters in the books having a secret life that even Austen wasn't aware off. Like speculating if Charlotte Lucas from Pride & Prejudice could be a lesbian, for example. But hasty interpretations aside, I think I'll quote my brother, who prefers sci-fi over other kinds of books, like Grigg in the movie. But on my insistence, he read Sense & Sensibility and then Persuasion and he said, "Austen's books are more than how-to-get-married manuals, they're about determinedly doing what brings you happiness, at great initial risk. They're highly individualistic."

I agree. Which is probably why they're such best-sellers more than two hundred years after they were written. And they keep making these fabulous movies with these great actors that win Oscars. There are Jane Austen scholars who dissect and describe every single character, line of dialogue, description and turn of events to find a rich collection of underlying themes.

And without pontificating, they still talk about things everybody cares about. Not the existential dilemmas of one hallowed soul, but the everyday decisions and compromises that regular yet unique people must make.

Which is why I wonder if I really am living out a Jane Austen novel. And this way, we all get to be Elizabeth or Anne or Marianne or Elinor or Emma, leading ladies of our lives, striding into a glorious future of our own making.

P. S. If anyone knows a guy like Grigg, the sweet sci-fi geek who cares about the environment and doesn't care about upholstery, please contact me pronto! :D


T. said...

ull find one of them in sacramento for sure :-D u should really visit!!! :-)

Tangled up in blue... said...

For a man like that, I shall willingly go saat samunder paar to Sacramento even! :D

T. said...

yeah i can imagine how this might go science geek drama queen drama queen science geek :-D

Tangled up in blue... said...

Alright, maybe you shudnt really be attempting to play Cupid. :P

T. said...

im positively offended well now i wont introduce u to zhenya :-P

Tangled up in blue... said...

Ooh I like the name! Gtalk? :)

S. Susan Deborah said...

Karishma, apologies first, as I won't be commenting on Austen here. Well, another thought spurred as I was reading this post. Why can't life have a happy ending? I think most of the junta love to say that "happily ever after" endings are not real life. I ask why? Sadness exists in life but then why insist that happy endings are only in the realm of fairy tales? Why can't our lives also end happily? I think that the "happily ever after" bashing group is increasing by the day. Why should we be so cynical that things can't end happily? This over emphasis of being practical and blah and blah is a bit over hyped.
Dear Karishma, I would love to hear what you have to say on this.

I do believe that "happily ever after" is quite possible. Of course it is not a continuous process but still we can make it happen.

In anticipation of your thoughts,

Tangled up in blue... said...

Susan! Thank you for that comment. That's what I meant when I said that life doesnt provide the kind of direct payoffs that Austen's endings do, becoz life lasts longer, has more chapters in it and is bookended by which people dont consider a happy event. In that sense, there isn't a happy ending.

But I think people do tend to be unnecessarily cynical about the actual act of living itself. Which isn't fair. In that sense, I agree with you. There's more happiness to be found in life than people give it credit for.

Some day will you tell me your thoughts on Austen, too. I know that you teach her books to students. I remember you mentioning Persuasion in one of your posts. Captain Wentworth followed Anne to Bath which made people laugh.. Remember that post?

Again, thanks for your comment, dearest Susan. :)

Ramya said...

yes yes. we're all living out jane austen novels. but we have masala chai and vada pav..

Tangled up in blue... said...

that's a big consolation! Imagine living on just some mashed potatoes and pantry cold cuts..I suddenly have a deeper appreciation of masala chai.

Antara said...

The idea of being a Jane Austen woman. Pure pleasure. :)

Tangled up in blue... said...

Antara, absolutely! :)

Sakshi said...

I think we all live a life out of the books! Fantasies they may be, but books are just exaggerated reality of our lives!
Only the Happy ending is sorta, controversial!

Or as they said in Uptown Girls-
"In life every ending is a new beginning" :)

Tangled up in blue... said...

Awww..Sakshi, that's a wonderful wonderful comment! :)