phantomstars (phantomstars) wrote in classiclit,

A question for Jane Austen fans.

I've noticed that a vast majority of Jane Austen fans claim Persuasion to be their favourite novel of hers. I keep wondering why this is. I've read five of her novels and personally, I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice the most because it was the most humorous and witty, had a fast-paced plot with lots of conflict and tension as well as the most piquant characters. Although, it's really hard for me to pick a favourite Jane Austen novel. I strongly adore Anne Elliot for her elegance, subtlety, and sophistication, but I wouldn't say the plot of Persuasion was the most entertaining of Austen's novels.

So, to the members of this community whose favourite Austen novel is Persuasion, I'd like to know why it is your favourite?
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I wish I had a good answer for you. For the longest time, Pride and Prejudice was my favorite. I still like the main characters in it the best of all the novels. However, something in Pesuasion grabbed me the last time I read it. Anne was such a good person... a less annoying Fanny Price in my opinion. As I read it, the story seemed so much clearer. I'm not exactly sure how to explain why I like it more... just one day I did. Who knows! Next time I go through the books, I may revert back to P&P!

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Barring Fanny Price (since I haven't read Mansfield Park yet), I think all of Austen's female protagonists are very likeable and compelling, and all possess some kind of elegance. If Anne is the reason for Persuasion's popularity, I guess I have trouble understanding why people prefer her to, say, the witty and playful Elizabeth Bennett.

I really like Emma too, as much as I like any other of Austen's works.
Random note: You might get more of a response if you post this to janeaustenfans.

I agree with you - Persuasion isn't the most entertaining of Austen's novels.

But Persuasion and Northanger Abbey are my favorites. NA is a favorite because of Austen's books, Catherine is the one I identify with the most...and I read this book first, so it's a nostalgic favorite.

Persuasion is my other favorite because of the themes it deals with. The themes of waiting and wondering if you've missed out and regret, growing up, maturing into an adult, realizing my family cannot make my decisions for, realizing I have to live with my actions and words - these are all things that resonate with me. I love all of Austen's books, and it's hard to choose a favorite, but Persuasion seems to me to be the "quietest" of her books. It's about the silent life no one ever talks about or writes about...deep loneliness. It doesn't make for an exciting movie, it doesn't inspire adaptation after adaptation, which is the fate of Austen's other novels (and really, nothing wrong with that, I love them too), but it has a quiet strength and solemness about it.

I also think that Austen's writing here is strongest. Her observations on Anne Elliot and all of the other characters are the most well developed, I feel, of all of her books. And though Anne's life is quite confined and a bit dreary, she still makes some witty remarks in her prose. Maybe not as often as in P&P or in Emma, but I think the aim of Persuasion is entirely different.

I hope that helps...
Thanks for your thoughtful and elaborate response - I found it very helpful. Those themes you've mentioned are very interesting and noteworthy observations, and I too loved that quiet strength and solemness of the novel. I agree with you on Austen's observations of her characters; her depiction of them either in solitary, introspective states or in social interaction is very keen and sensitive, and overall her writing is so mature and intelligent in an understated way.
I think it's Anne's inner life that draws me in. She seems to live inside her head, and I do that too.

I think I can relate to Anne Elliot most of all the Austen heroines. That's my basic reason.
I think that the most powerful underlying message of the book was, in fact, the responsibility we carry for our own judgement and happiness. Anne Elliot's ability to carry her disappointments and live her life in her own head was, to me, the most attractive part of the story.