Edinburgh Writers’ Club is hearing a talk by Maureen Kelly of the Scottish Branch of the Jane Austen Society tomorrow night, Monday 4th March. I feel I can take a tiny bit of credit here as I met Maureen just when the Club were looking to find a speaker to talk about a classic writer. Maureen goes all over to talk about Jane. There are pictures of her on other blogs at a Conference in the US where she talked about whether Marianne would sing Scottish songs. We are privileged.
So why do we find some writers so fascinating that the end of their books, or their output, is not and never will be enough? I remember my own first encounter with this phenomenon. I deliberately did not read the final chapter of Anne of Greengables until I had to because the book was due back into the library. It’s not difficult to work that one out. Why wouldn’t a red-haired girl with freckles not entirely empathise with a heroine who was red-haired and freckled – oh, and downtrodden, but resilient etc, etc? Other examples are easy to find – how about James Bond?
Jane Austen’s works are different. I really can’t see myself living without toothpaste and horses scare me witless at close quarters, so it’s not exactly empathy. Her magic, however, is in the language. She is for me the first truly modern writer in terms of her language. She also concentrates on domestic and social comedy and interaction without troubling this reader over the politics, warfare and philosophy of her times. Maybe I just want to be entertained. I read a lot of British History at Uni, and European, so I haven’t got my head in the sand. I know about the evils of life in Regency and Georgian Britain.
Beyond the end, many other writers and commentators have helped to lessen our withdrawal symptoms. There are sequels and prequels galore. The wonderful Mr…Diary books. PD James’s take in Death Comes to Pemberley. Emma Thomson…. and of course the scriptwriters bringing us many and varied interpretations.
So what will Maureen Kelly have to say about one of our most loved writers? Can hardly wait.