Happy (Belated) Birthday, Jane!

I'm technically two days late, but I figured this was an appropriate time to give a little ode to my favorite author, Jane Austen (born December 16, 1775). I've read all of Ms. Austen's completed novels at least once, and her incomplete works are on my to-read list, too {Thanks, Moondoggie, for buying me her complete works one Christmas}. Off the top of my head, I'd have to say Pride and Prejudice is my favorite, but in order to sound like I'm just picking the most popular, I think I'm going to commit to rereading all of her novels in 2009 in order to make sure that choice still holds true.

I've loved every movie/miniseries adaptation that I've seen (even though, naturally they don't do the actual novel justice) and I also have enjoyed some "sequels" or modern-day Austen-like tales like Elizabeth Aston's series that starts with Mr. Darcy's Daughters. I don't know quite what it is about the regency era that I love so much... but here are a few of my favorite (and somewhat generalized) things about Jane Austen's works.

  • Happy endings~ this is always a big one for me, and I find it especially meaningful when you consider that Jane herself did not have her own happy love-story ending), not to mention there is often a very real tension in her love stories that I love.
  • The heroes~ they're amazing men--while flawed, they still always have many virtues and I imagine them to be as handsome as the men that play them in the movies. :) They're passionate, chivalrous, often literary, but still very manly.
  • The heroines~ all of the heroines are strong women, in their own way. They have their (realistic) imperfections to be sure, but they're not superficial or overly-flawed characters (which is something that bugs me). They love passionately, are dreamers & fighters, they have integrity & good morals, but they know how to have fun.
  • Feminism~ I don't tend to call myself a feminist by modern-day standards, but I love how Austen criticizes the society she was a part of, while portraying women that also just did what they had to do. They may long for "more," they may consider whether marriage should be their only means of making something for themselves or their family, or even complain about their situation, but they don't rebel against the society completely-- they still embrace motherhood, marriage, and of course true love.
  • Details~ the stories are intricate, and the cultural details are apparent, really bringing to life an era that would otherwise be dead to my modern mind and understanding.
  • Conflict~ Ms. Austen was an absolute genius when it comes to creating conflict and therefore, viable plots, in her novels, always knowing exactly what horrible things to do to her characters and their love lives (although, thankfully, always rectifying everything, very passionately, in the end).
  • Lanugage~ I get lost in the language, words like felicity, and mischance, and thither... okay, that line's not mine, I stole it from You've Got Mail, but I'll too admit that there's a lot of romance in reading a novel from that era and getting caught up in the vocabulary.

Are you a Jane-ite? What's your favorite novel?

Oh, and here are a few fun sites to check out if you are a fan:

An English Pet Peeve- the Apostrophe

This article was originally posted on October 15, 2007. I want to talk about my #1 grammatical pet peeve. Now I don't claim to have perfect English, but I do strive to get this one particular thing mostly right because for some reason it bothers me more than other things. What I am referring to is... the dreaded... APOSTROPHE.

The majority of the mistakes with apostrophes that I see are made in relation to last names. For example, when you sign a letter: Love, The Smith's (WRONG), instead of Love, The Smiths (RIGHT!).

Let me clarify: Unless you are showing that you own something (like The Smiths' House), your last name should never have an apostrophe with it!!!!!!

So just a quick breakdown (and these are only the rules that I think are most pertinent).

The 2 uses of the apostrophe are: -To mark omission (in a contraction like "can't") - I think we all get this one. -To show possession (ownership) - I will focus on this one.

Possessive Apostrophes: For a singular noun, add apostrophe + s: cat's meow For a singular noun ending in s, there are 2 accepted possibilities: boss' shoes or boss's shoes For a plural noun without an s, add apostrophe + s: children's toys For normal plural nouns, add an apostrophe at the end: all my friends' kids (many friends)

I found this funny little example on Wikipedia:

Kingsley Amis, on being challenged to produce a sentence whose meaning depended on a possessive apostrophe, came up with:

  • "Those things over there are my husbands." (I'm married to those men over there.)

  • "Those things over there are my husband's." (Those things over there belong to my husband.)

I hope this clears it up! And if you often make the "last name mistake," please don't take offense to this post; I hope it helps!.