Are books by Jane Austen difficult to read?

I've always being interesting in reading them but is the language difficult to understand? Also are they good reads?

26 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    No, not really. The pages can be a bit dense text-wise, so they do sometimes seem daunting! I think it's interest that makes all the difference; I did one at A-Level and hated it at first, as it was so far from what I usually read. I've read other Austens as well and I would recommend Emma as a starting point, it's my favourite of her novels. It's the most interesting one, in my opinion.

    The language isn't actually too bad, though occasionally you will come across a spelling or grammatical usage that does jar somewhat.

    Basically, if you want to read them you'll have little trouble. Some advice though; don't sit down and expect to read it all in one attempt, Austen can be very heavy going in terms of the amount on a page!

  • 6 years ago

    I find that most sentences run on with commas, asides, and semicolons so much such that the original idea is lost when one finally reaches the period or end of the sentence. Added to this words that are rarely used in today's writings, that I have to stop and look up as to how she is using them in the sentence and then try to understand what she wanted to convey. I started reading her novels as they are considered "classics" and wanted to catch up to what the rest of the literary world was saying about how wonderful Jane Austen books are and how witty and insightful into human nature she was. I started with Mansfield Park and I'm about a fourth way into the book and already cannot keep track of all the characters now have I found that wit that everyone talks about. But I will persevere in hopes that something will click and I will see the magnificent Jane Austen that the her fans see.

  • 1 decade ago

    I did not have a hard time reading them. Yeah, 18th and 19th century novels have different grammar to what we commonly use today. But if you read books written in that way, you would actually realize that it is not really that hard to understand. I could also say that even you wouldn't have an easy time in understanding them, it would be worth it after you finish the books. I read Pride and Prejudice for a week and every chapter of it was written beautifully. I especially admire her for her plots, which in my opinion, you yourself would also love once you start reading them too. Her works are still being praised and look up to until now. Hence, Jane Austen is really a great writer even after a long period of time had passed.

  • Yes, they are quite difficult whatever anyone says, but I think it is worth persevering with them just to see how much is lost in the TV adaptations. Jane Austen was a brilliant writer but she used a slightly pedantic language and turn of phrase which is not always readily understandable now, the main thing is that she was both satirising and appealing to a market that was her bread and butter to her income as a novelist and that was her genius. I am trying to read Sense and Sensibility at the moment and although it is amazing to go back into this time warp, and her ironic wit and perception are rewarding, I find the lack of visual landscape and description of the surroundings a bit frustrating, which I find much more strongly built up with Thomas Hardy for instance. I think it is worth reading her novels though, there are only six of them after all, the way she writes about interactions between human beings contrasting between social conventions and emotional needs with such a mixture of censure and compassion makes her an all-time good read, but take her novels slowly and have a notebook to write down who all the characters are so you do not get confused!

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  • No, Not at all. You may be a little dismayed by how words were placed back then, But after several chapters you'll be accustomed.

    Also, If you think you will have trouble understand them go to Target and buy the dvd verison's and then read the books. You will have a better concept of the chacators and plot. Al-tho movies are never the same as the books.

    Happy reading! Northanger Abbey is my favorite btw.

  • 1 decade ago

    Honestly? At times, yes. Not all of the time, but the dialogue and descriptions can be very drawn out. It's not so much the language in the dialogue, although you might have to work to decode it every once and a while, as much as the descriptions. There are probably pages of her works you could skip over because the details really don't matter that much.

    I would just suggest reading more slowly than usual and being sure to take it all in.

  • 1 decade ago

    I find them much easier to read than most other classical authors. Jane Austen had a great sense of humour, created wonderful characters, and although her plots are short on dramatic incident, they are still interesting enough to keep you reading.

    My personal favourites are Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma. Pride and Prejudice would probably be agood one to start with, as it is generally the most popular, and everyone loves the heroine, Elizabeth.

    I don't personally think that 'cute romances' or 'chikilit' (used in answers above) are appropriate ways to describe her novels, they are much more subtle than that.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    No. They are not dumbed down for children and some of the language is old-fashioned, but they are not remotely difficult.

    Are they good reads? Well, that's going to be personal. Me, I liked some of them and disliked others.

    A word of general advice? If you are interested in reading something, try reading it. What's the worst that can happen - that you don't enjoy it and stop? If you only ever try books which you know won't be difficult and are already sure you will like, you will miss out on so much.

  • 1 decade ago

    Definitely worth the effort. You probably won't find them too hard since they are dialogue-based and there isn't too much narrative prose. Austen's use of irony is fantastic. I would say though, that once you've read one, you've pretty much read them all. Perhaps that's a bit harsh, but having read nearly all her works, it's pretty much true. It's a winning formula though, so not necessarily a bad thing! I would recommend Persuasion, a vastly under-appreciated novel. The protaganist is significantly older than Emma or Lizzy and the novel is tinged with nostalgia and regret. A delightful read.

  • 1 decade ago

    No, the language is perfectly fine to follow once you become used to it, though as someone has pointed out, the pages are really heavy on the text front!

    as for good reads, I dont really like them having read a couple, but they're not my kind of book. I'd certainly say you should give them a try though :)

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