The 21st Century Classic9:30 AM
There's a simplicity of complexity about her work that wraps one in her world without seeming too far-fetched. What I love best about Jane Austen has to do with her style. It's superb. It's gorgeous. It's downright clever. Yet it isn't hifalutin like typical Victorian fare. Her heroines don't gasp and faint and soliloquize (e.g. Dickens). She isn't - melodramatic, if you know what I mean, which was the fault of many Victorian authors. Neither is she overly realistic, like the disappointing literature of today. Without ever sacrificing a bit of humanity and reality, Austen crafted larger-than-life, highly intelligent, impossible yet believeable stories.
Did I mention I'm a fan of Jane Austen?
Of course, the moment I begin falling in love with a book, I immediately start dreaming of joining the ranks of cultured, intelligent female writers.
This dream time I hit upon a terrible realization: the 21st century is absolutely barren of literary quality. Good for bestsellers, yes. Classics? Hardly. Unless I want to center my stories on the intelligentsia of society (which I know nothing about), I'm stuck with the typical American - illiterate, illogical and mostly devoid of class and chivalry. I mean, what girl expects her lover to whisper, "You have bewitched me, heart and soul" or my personal favorite, "I might talk more if I loved you less"? Besides me?
I doubt the typical twenty-something knows more than half-a-dozen verbs, cluttered with like and you know and contractions. And that's just language. We can buff and shine our typical American hero and heroine, but their lifestyles just aren't romantic - what, broken homes, feminism, casual dating. It's hard to create noble characters nowadays. They're almost dinosaurs. It's almost impossible to introduce a female lead who's naturally clever without being obnoxious. Novels with that kind of female pool would be like Pride and Prejudice without Jane and Lizzie Bennet.
Worst of all, it's hard to have a romance without Regency period dresses. Would Emma be the same with a Miss Woodhouse in jeans?
I'm slightly exaggerating. Harper Lee created a classic with To Kill a Mockingbird, it's true, but even she set it in the thirties. And I won't doubt that many classics-to-be are only waiting to be revealed to the general public, only I probably won't ever be allowed to read them. Be it as it may, there seems little in mainstream America that is romantic, little that is wise, little that is literary and even less that is great. Today's pending classics seem crude, profanity laced and morbid.
So in short, I became very disenchanted with our less-than-enchanting twenty-first century. But somebody once said, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Even while typical Americana holds little romance and adventure, we Christians make it a point to be atypical. And great literature, while in a way a commentary on the times, always points the way to a better Typical.