Mercatornet: Jane Austen’s Marriage Challenge

Posted By on July 21, 2017

During the last couple of weeks, while Jane Austen fans have been paying tribute to the famous novelist on the 200th anniversary of her death, devotees of a very different type of fiction have been getting their fix of Game of Thrones, Season 7. From all accounts this television series has more dead bodies than a busy mortuary, making it incredibly popular for some reason. A trailer for the series that I came across had over 35 million views.

As one writer has observed, death is barely glimpsed in Austen’s six novels. Writing at a time when high infant mortality and common diseases made death a regular visitor even in the families of the gentry, claiming Austen herself at the age of 41, she never killed off a major character. Her concern is with life and the great institution that produces and nurtures it: marriage.

Despite the dramatic differences between her world and ours, it is about this subject that her stories have most to teach our age. The fact that ours has largely lost the plot about matrimony may even be the reason that stories like Pride and Prejudice continue to find an audience after all this time: courtship, marriage, intimacy, children, in that order: how novel!

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