The aura of Austen – The Hindu.

A painting of author Jane Austen

It smelt of book, that indescribably nostalgic smell that can transport you instantly to happy days, like the smell of hot, buttered toast. So there I sat, cross-legged on the bed, endless hours of Austen stretched open in front of me, practically quivering with joy.

Austen, like the incredible Bard, does not age. You can love Dickens, Thackeray or Hardy but you place them firmly in their era and context. What Austen observes about human beings, though, is so universal and timeless you could be reading about your neighbour, aunt or favourite cousin. How else do you explain the latest in the series of adaptations of P&P? Called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, it’s a series of 10-minute YouTube videos in which Lizzie is an American grad student. Its characters post real-time blogs, tweets, and status updates.

Never mind Elizabeth and Darcy, every one of the supporting cast is a triumph in characterisation. All it takes is a searing line or two to establish that Jane and Bingley are beautiful but not firm enough. That just as beauty is not a virtue in itself, neither is Mary Bennet’s plainness, which has neither taste nor wisdom to improve it. In an age that worshipped titles and nobility, the author puts Lady Catherine de Bourgh savagely in place. ……….. Trust me, Austen’s drawing rooms say as much about character and principles as novels about war.