ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM JANE AUSTIN
By Sunday Taylor, November 18th, 2010
I have always loved the novels of Jane Austen. My favorites are “Emma,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and “Sense and Sensibility.” I have often been amazed that a woman who rarely ventured beyond her small village in England could write about important issues filtered through the microcosm of her small, circumscribed world. She wrote with humor, irony, and sharp insights into human nature and filled her novels with unforgettable characters.
When I heard that UCLA professor Charles Linwood Batten was giving a talk on Jane Austen entitled, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Jane Austen, ” and that it was being held at the beautiful Robinson Gardens in Beverly Hills, I signed up. I have heard Professor Batten speak on many different topics, but my favorite is his lecture on Jane Austen.
Professor Batten manages to be both an erudite scholar and a witty storyteller, with a twinkle in his eye and a wonderful sense of humor. He is someone you’d love to have at a dinner party. In his lecture he asks the question, why do movie makers and television producers continue to make films out of Jane Austen’s books and life and why do writers continue to rewrite her novels? (“The Three Weissmanns of Westport” by Cathleen Schine and “The Cookbook Collector” by Allegra Goodman are two recent examples of books.) What is Jane Austen doing that is so universally and timelessly appealing?