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We use TOG. Pride & Prejudice was assigned. I figured my ds would balk. He did. To compromise I let him dump the book and we ordered the movie from Netflix - the miniseries actually, with Colin Firth. (Sigh.) Anyway, he hates it too. He says (rather dramatically I might add) that he would rather shoot himself than have anything to do with this book or movie. In fact, he is now CLEANING HIS BATHROOM WITHOUT BEING ASKED, rather than watch the DVD.

 

He is a voracious reader - almost always has his face in a book. There are only a few other books in his lifetime that he has acted this way about and I have let him off the hook. I want to let this go, to save both of us the agony, but I am feeling guilty. He's a guy and a future science major, do I really need to press him on this?

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If he were my son (I'm assuming he is the 15 year old), I wouldn't push it. I would simply assign an alternative. My boys don't enjoy those books or movies either. However, my oldest will now watch them with his girlfriend :)

 

Pick a good 'boy' book - Captain Blood is the first that comes to my mind and is set in about the same time period.

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there are so many wonderful books that I do not see the need to force P&P (which I like) on an unwilling boy who wants to study science. I'd just drop it and pick something else.

 

ETA: I can see somebody NOT liking it. It is all about relationships (romantic and otherwise) between people, and some boys just could not care less to read about it.

Edited by regentrude
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I can certainly understand where a boy would not enjoy the storyline of P&P. However, the benefit of reading Austen is her use and elevation of the English language. Can you choose a few scenes to read aloud together and talk about her prose?

 

Or how about another Jane Austen book? "Emma" provides an excellent example of a model gentleman in Mr. Knightly which might be character building for your son. "Persuasion" includes ships, sea captains and trips to the beach - there's a bit more testosterone. "Northanger Abby" includes ghost stories and a mystery.

 

I would assume the other point of reading Austen for TOG is to provide an opportunity to discuss the time period, classism, gender roles, etc... Is there another book or movie to provide this jumping off point for discussion?

 

If you want to sneak in a female author, how about Silas Marner (1861) by George Eliot?

 

If you skip P&P, how about watching "Bride and Prejudice"? It's an Indian remake of Pride and Prejudice and it's hilarious.

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Did he give the book a go or just think he wasn't going to like it? Do you think he would like it once he got into it? I'm pretty selective about what I have dd read. I don't make her read things that I know she will hate. However, if there is a book that I think she might like, I make her give it an honest try.

 

If he's tried it and still hates it, then I wouldn't make him read it.

 

You could always go with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies :leaving: We read this last year for our Jane Austen Lit Study and one brother decided to read that with us. He loved it :lol: He had no interest in joining us for the other Jane Austen books but thought Zombies was hilarious. Dd hated it and couldn't finish it.

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I disliked P&P too, and would never have assigned it to my son. From that basic time period, he enjoyed Frankenstein and The Count of Monte Cristo. You could either substitute or skip and go on with your life. I've always let my kids pass on books they didn't like. I really think that when there is an choice like P&P on a booklist, there should be a book with a similar theme for people who don't care for books like that.

Edited by Karen in CO
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I haven't read any of Jane Austen until now and am trying to read Sense and Sensibility since I found it at the flea market a couple of weeks ago. I don't mind a good romance and I don't mind English lit, but I am having a hard time getting into it. I am going to try for awhile longer, but if it doesn't get better I will probably shelve it for later if dd wants to read it.

 

The one other author I gave up on in the middle of the first book I was reading was Hemingway. It bored me to tears.

 

Let your son do something else if he isn't enjoying it at all.

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I dislike P&P *ducking*. I will not force ds to read it. I did watch the Keira Knightly version and liked it, it was a nice two hour summation, which I found the humor in. I will let ds watch that and we will discuss.

 

If you don't want to give in, get the Keira Knightly version.

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My son, whose taste in literature I generally agree with, really disliked Pride and Prejudice too. Now I love it and have read it at least five times. But . . different strokes for different folks. If your son tried it and didn't like it, I see no reason at all to force the issue. You never know, he might come back to it later in life.

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We use TOG. Pride & Prejudice was assigned. I figured my ds would balk. He did. To compromise I let him dump the book and we ordered the movie from Netflix - the miniseries actually, with Colin Firth. (Sigh.) Anyway, he hates it too. He says (rather dramatically I might add) that he would rather shoot himself than have anything to do with this book or movie. In fact, he is now CLEANING HIS BATHROOM WITHOUT BEING ASKED, rather than watch the DVD.

 

He is a voracious reader - almost always has his face in a book. There are only a few other books in his lifetime that he has acted this way about and I have let him off the hook. I want to let this go, to save both of us the agony, but I am feeling guilty. He's a guy and a future science major, do I really need to press him on this?

 

As much as I enjoyed the Colin Firth miniseries, I don't think that any movie adequately captures the language in the book, much of which deals with internal dialogue and narrative description.

 

Whether I made my kids read a book they disliked would depend on how essential I thought that work was. I think Austen is pretty key, but that several of her books would suffice.

 

However, there were any number of books that I had to read and write on in college, even when I wasn't particularly thrilled with them. That is also a skill and a lesson to learn.

 

(FWIW, I was a humanities major at a science/engineering core school. So I also had to take plenty of science, math and engineering courses that I wasn't thrilled to have to complete.)

 

If you picked the book just to get something from the period and have no special reason for picking Austen, then other books my be better. I just can't imagine getting out of reading something because I wasn't emotionally engaging with it. If nothing else, it is an opportunity to learn to critique a book you don't think is well written, while using examples to support your assertions.

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I second the Captain Blood substitution. My oldest, then a non-reader, spent a happy few days in a hammock gobbling down that book. Later, when he is older, he might enjoy the language. Some of my boys do. Meanwhile, I wouldn't spoil it. I would just make sure he knew that there were women writers in that period who were capable of writing something other than gothic romances and leave it at that.

Nan

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Fine if he dislikes it, but at this age he should be able to articulate a reason why. I have gone this route with different pieces of lit with kids at various ages.

 

With regard to very young children, it is not necessarily appropriate that they be able to articulate the reason for disliking a piece of literature. However, at the high school level, I really don't think any dislike or like is simply founded on "I don't like it" or "I like it."

 

If dc would rather clean a bathroom than watch the dvd, it is really important, at this age, to get him to articulate why.

 

I have to play this game often with dd 14 to whom many things are boring or stupid or (supply your own adj.) Further discussion often reveals insight into her thought processes.

 

HTH

Mary

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Depends, has he done all the other lit in the first two years of TOG at R level? Did he balk at any of that? If not, I'd be inclined to require the book. I have a son who is a strong reader and if he had been going along with TOG R level lit and this was the first book he balked at then I'd figure it would be good experience to read something he dislikes.

 

First, if he winds up in a college course, he won't get to reject a book, he'll have to tackle it period.

 

Second, most literature is male driven. Pride and Prejudice is one of the few works anyone working through R level TOG would have come to thus far that has a heroine. For a boy to balk at that is narrow-minded and I'd feel that he needed some expansion.

 

If on the other hand, he's struggled all along with lit from TOG's R level then I would be quicker to cut Pride and Prejudice as I would want to encourage continued enjoyment of lit.

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I debated (with myself) this topic, too. P&P is scheduled in our curriculum this year. I've pretty much decided to do the longer movie so ds is exposed to the kinds of plots in Jane Austen literature. And then we'll probably read a book from a different British author - maybe a Sherlock Holmes or Frankenstein (another famous female British author).

 

FWIW, I didn't make my dd read "boyish" novels she wasn't interested in, either, such as Treasure Island. I mean, if I had 100 years to teach literature, I certainly would cover it all with every child. Or if I were blessed with kids who read constantly, then I'd love for them to try it all. But as it is, there is far more literature than time at our house, so we have room for switching to things that appeal.

 

Julie

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14 DS who plans on being a doctor is reading it now - he said he thought the dialog was hysterical...

 

Does he just think he is "supposed" to hate it?

 

:iagree:

 

My oldest son loves the book and the movie. I think he is a Darcy of sorts. And he also finds the dialog to be hilarious.

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I hated Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, too. I kept seeing the "seams" where they had stitched in the new material, and I found it jarring.

 

I wanted to love it. I thought it was a funny idea. But it just didn't work for me.

:iagree:

 

I would also suggest a substitution. R.L. Stevenson (a little earlier) or Copperfield (a bit later) both have great style and content.

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Are you kidding? Why would you force him to read it?

 

:001_smile:

 

I guess it depends on your philosophy of education, but in my house there are always some things that I think need to be covered that students don't want to do. I happen to think reading Pride and Prejudice by a strong reader fits in that category. I also am preparing my students to go to college where they won't get a lot choices about books used in class either, so I want them to be able to read a work and get enough out of it to do well in class.

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This is a book that NEEDS to be read.

 

There is also another lesson that sometimes we need to do and read things that we may not like (some of the tripe I was assigned in ps comes to mind) but one must persevere and continue.

 

Make him read it.

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May I ask: WHY?

I personally like it, but I can think of many books that have a greater impact on Western culture than P&P.

 

...because I think that there are certain books in Western Literature that any well rounded and well educated individual should know about.

 

Others may disagree, others may point to individuals who they define as well educated and who have done just fine without ever cracking the cover of any of the great books. I still hold that there are certain basic building blocks to a top caliber education and if one has not read works such as P & P then one frankly does not have a full and complete education.

 

This is a book that IS part of any educated individuals repertoire. This does not mean that one need like it, simply that one need have read (or be familiar with) it.

 

 

I stand by for return fire.......

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This is a book that IS part of any educated individuals repertoire. This does not mean that one need like it, simply that one need have read (or be familiar with) it.

.

 

But you still do not give me a reason WHY this should be so. What, in your opinion, makes this book so special that you make blanket statements about its importance to ANY educated individual?

What would be its significance beyond the English language culture? Why is it important for ANY educated person, from any culture, to read THIS particular book?

I am not arguing - I just would like to know why you consider this particular book of such importance. I like it, but I would be hard pressed to make a case to elevate it to such status.

Edited by regentrude
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I will preface my answer by saying that at 16 I hated P&P and Jane Austen in general.

 

But from being assigned this work in Brit Lit in high school I learned a few facts that served me well into college.

 

1) That my English teacher was being fair when he said that I didn't have to like it, just read it and write the corresponding essay. I could even allow my dislike to shine through if it were well reasoned and defended. (He said this even though his PhD dissertation was on Austen.)

 

2) When you reach high school there are no longer girl books and boy books. There is just literature. (At least when it comes to the "Great Books" and literature classes.)

 

3) Sometimes the lesson is to actually complete the assignment-even when it is no fun. Something that homeschoolers often get around. If you are on a prep program for higher education I think that this point becomes essential.

 

I will say that with "the classics" I don't consider the movie an educational substitute for reading the book. (In the case of plays you need both, though.)

 

Finally-if a work like P&P can inspire everything from P&P and Zombies to Bridget Jones to numerous film adaptations to Lost in Austen (the book and the film) to Bride and Prejudice to a reality "game show" (Regency House Party) to specialty tours of England and Bath it has clearly become part our culture. As such it may deserve being read just to be understand all the cultural references. All this in addition to the fact that it reflects history, society and life in Jane Austen's time.

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While I believe there is some merit to what pqr says, I find that even within the so-called Western canon there are works of greater priority, and otherwise.

 

I personally put the works of Jane Austen in the "otherwise" category - in other words, great if we manage to read some of that, because it is an important piece of a collective "cultural puzzle", but no profound harm will be done if we skip it. More harm will be done, in my view, if we skip some of the more foundational works - for example, I would never trade a solid selection of Greek tragedies for a Jane Austen novel. I would never even trade a Dostoevsky novel for a Jane Austen novel. Even if you wish to stick to literary production in English alone, there are so many works whose importance, relevance and artistic merit (if such a thing can be discussed objectively) I estimate considerably greater than that of Pride and Prejudice that if I were to create a high school selection, I could easily completely leave out Jane Austen - barring a casual mention during the periodization class - and not feel guilty about doing so. I would feel considerably more guilty about leaving out Milton - something which is done quite automatically today by many, because "it's hard", yet Milton's works are several orders of magnitude more complex, more relevant, more formally skillful, more linguistically nuanced, carrying way more common cultural references (and presenting a unique way of bridging some of their sources) than those of Jane Austen.

 

The bottomline is, you cannot read all of the "great works". A high school selection is just that - a high school selection. It has to take into account several things, including national tradition and school tradition of reading (both of which are quite "loose" in the anglophone world; in much of Europe, the "school canon" is considerably more fixed), but it cannot possibly aim to be comprehensive. You will always have to give up on something to make room for something else - and many people will find that, with all due respect to Jane Austen, that particular author is simply not worth it, not worth the fuss, if she does not carry an enormous connection with the national / school tradition of reading, an enormous and pervasive cultural influence, and so forth. And frankly, standing on the same list with some much greater giants of anglophone and world literature, many people will rule that she does not. While her works are on the "ambitious version" of my high school English reading list, if something's gotta go, you bet it is going to be Jane Austen before many other things. A gap in education produced by not having read Pride and Prejudice is a preferable hole to many other literary gaps. And there will always be gaps - this is just a matter of prioritizing and picking them. Even if one chooses literature as one's profession, there will be gaps. Even if one specializes in a particular national tradition, there will still be gaps within that tradition alone, let alone when it comes to more broad reading. You cannot escape gaps.

 

I am not trying to "relativize" the matter, the education is important I am a strong proponet of the great books education on the high school level, chronologically, a la' WTM. But however you look at it, one always ends up picking and choosing.

 

I can see a strong reason FOR doing Jane Austen - if OP feels that her son needs an "alternative" lesson, if a Jane Austen novel is indeed a "proxy" for some other things... such as a lesson that sometimes the effort needs to be put even into things we dislike, that one cannot choose everything and sometimes has to conform to a plan of studies, etc. But if the child is in no need of such lessons, typically does not fuss about reading, has a good academic record and is willing to take on a roughly equivalent task (another reading which fits the plan of studies), maybe he should just be allowed to do so.

 

For the record, I negotiated my way out of completing Madame Bovary in high school. I have only once in my life met somebody who has read ALL of the prescribed school readings, on time, perfectly prepared. It is normal to miss out a reading or two, either by sheer luck of not having been examined that specific work, either by negotiating. Can ALL readings be negotiated? No, some of them just "weigh" more on the scale of importance and relevance. But some of those "otherwise" works, such as Austen or even Flaubert, which really do not have a capital cultural importance or such a tradition behind them, can maybe be substituted once or twice with equivalent but more pleasant readings, without it being so detrimental to one's education or even character education. After all, we are not talking about "anything goes" approach - we are talking about about replacing 1 or 2 fairly insignificant works out of the list of high school... 40ish? 50ish?... and still completing a decent selection of the "great works".

 

So, my vote is to let the kid choose an alternative reading that fits the plan of studies and call it an exception.

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I know from other posts that you personally dislike Austen's work, Ester Maria; but from the point of view of someone whose work has been focused in the British literary tradition, she is extremely important and culturally consequential on any number of levels. I have no horse to ride in this particular race; I don't particularly mind what the OP decides for her son. But the assumed "insignificance" of Austen's work would be an inaccurate basis for a decision.

 

Just to name a very few things off the top of my head:

 

1) Austen pioneered, and perfected, the use of free indirect discourse as a novelistic technique, in Britain. She is widely credited with having finally gotten novelistic style right after various experiments in narration, technique, and voice in earlier fiction, and doing so in a way that conveyed both interior and exterior life. She was an innovative genius insofar as literary style is concerned. This is not my judgment but that of the majority of critics of 18th-century literary criticism and history.

 

2) She massively rewrote the whole idea of what constituted "the heroine" in earlier novels such as Fielding and Richardson; and it is HER version of the heroine which has been dominant in the British novel ever since.

 

3) Before Austen, almost every British novel had to be prefaced with various claims or apologies about its novelistic status: it was really recovered manuscript papers the author was just editing; it was a collection of papers handed over by a friend; it was a group of letters by "real" people; etc. Austen almost single-handedly made the English novel respectable. While some novelists after her also made claims about the supposed historical veracity of their writing -- that is, claimed what they produced was actually non-fiction narrative -- there is a pretty clear dividing line in that no one had to abjectly apologize for writing a novel after Austen; it was no longer seen as a debased form.

 

I'd say those are some pretty significant contributions to literature.

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1) That my English teacher was being fair when he said that I didn't have to like it, just read it and write the corresponding essay. I could even allow my dislike to shine through if it were well reasoned and defended. (He said this even though his PhD dissertation was on Austen.)

 

2) When you reach high school there are no longer girl books and boy books. There is just literature. (At least when it comes to the "Great Books" and literature classes.)

 

3) Sometimes the lesson is to actually complete the assignment-even when it is no fun. Something that homeschoolers often get around. If you are on a prep program for higher education I think that this point becomes essential.

 

 

 

This is most of what I was thinking except my High School teacher didn't write a dissertation on Austen. I think if he really hates the book and has been forced to slog through other books he hates/ highly dislikes, then letting him skip this one is compassionate and being reasonable. If, however, he has never had to endure reading and intelligently discussing a book he hates, then he needs to do it. There is a skill involved in reading something you dislike that is not learned by only reading what you do like or enjoy. If he wants to succeed in college and he hasn't been forced to complete a book and write a paper or have a discussion on a book he hates, then I wouldn't let him off the hook with Pride and Prejudice so quickly. There's a silly miniseries/movie on Netflix called Lost in Austen that he might enjoy or at least he may find more tolerable. It would not in any way count as a substitute for the book but he might enjoy the book more after watching it.

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I wanted to add to the brief reference about the representation of women in my previous post: Anyone who imagines that Austen didn't make a particularly big splash in literary history as determined through cultural references, responses, or reverberations of some kind is completely missing the fact that she revolutionized the way women could be portrayed in a novel. If you don't see the cultural resonance of her work in this area, it's because Austen's innovative ideas have become so naturalized in fiction, so woven into the fiber of everything thereafter in both British and American fiction. It's ironic that her huge achievements are made to seem invisible by their very success.

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This is most of what I was thinking except my High School teacher didn't write a dissertation on Austen. I think if he really hates the book and has been forced to slog through other books he hates/ highly dislikes, then letting him skip this one is compassionate and being reasonable. If, however, he has never had to endure reading and intelligently discussing a book he hates, then he needs to do it. There is a skill involved in reading something you dislike that is not learned by only reading what you do like or enjoy. If he wants to succeed in college and he hasn't been forced to complete a book and write a paper or have a discussion on a book he hates, then I wouldn't let him off the hook with Pride and Prejudice so quickly. There's a silly miniseries/movie on Netflix called Lost in Austen that he might enjoy or at least he may find more tolerable. It would not in any way count as a substitute for the book but he might enjoy the book more after watching it.

 

 

Thank you. Yes, he has had to read plenty of books he disliked. He has only vehemently protested for a handful of books and this is one of them. He still talks about the books he detested that I FORCED him to read. Gulliver's Travels being one of them. He mentions how horrible it is everytime the opportunity arises. He also detested The Crucible, but mainly because the characters angered him.

 

At my house I don't often let things slide and I am a stickler for "crying doesn't mean you can get out of it" - but I make a few exceptions.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I haven't read all the posts but here is my suggestion:

I plan on having my boys read "The Count of Monte Cristo" i/o Pride and Prejudice when the time comes it is on the TOG alternate list. It is roughly the same time frame except in France i/o England, deals with the history and societal customs of the day (post-Napoleon) but has betrayal, revenge, prison escapes, & sword fighting. It is longer book however, and if you don't want to dedicate the time to it: The movie version is fairly good.

 

ETA: Ok I changed my mind: I think a great alternate to Pride and Prejudice is Wuthering Heights. A strong male and female character (so as to not ignore novels w/ females written by females) in roughly the same time frame dealing with societal issues that is roughly the same length of novel as P&P. I think WH is a bit better for literary analysis than P&P (not hating on P&P, I have read it numerous times). There is a lot of discussion to be had on the setting, symbolism, character development, comparison and contrast, cause and effect, plot development, themes, etc. There is also so much to learn on how our feelings, thoughts and actions can drastically affect the people and places around us and well into the future. Also one could easily relate to one or more characters (in part or in whole) that are in this novel.

 

Some great questions: Who is the villain in the story? the hero? Does previous abuse or mistreatment excuse/justify/make understandable future bad acts. What societal rules (if any) contributed to tragic events? Is the obtainment of "true love" more important than anything else? What about revenge? Who ultimately wins and why?

 

Just my humble 2 cents (and since this post is a week old: probably out of date.)

Edited by FromA2Z
Changed my mind
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... In fact, he is now CLEANING HIS BATHROOM WITHOUT BEING ASKED, rather than watch the DVD.

He is a voracious reader - almost always has his face in a book.

 

I say scrap P&P and assign him 2 more books -- one he'll like (so he'll read it) and one he won't like (so he'll clean without being asked). :)

 

Seriously, there are a lot of books! Pick another one from the 1000 Good Books List (http://www.classical-homeschooling.org/celoop/1000.html).

 

He may decide to "like" Jane Austen once he gets a girlfriend. ;)

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I wanted to add to the brief reference about the representation of women in my previous post: Anyone who imagines that Austen didn't make a particularly big splash in literary history as determined through cultural references, responses, or reverberations of some kind is completely missing the fact that she revolutionized the way women could be portrayed in a novel. If you don't see the cultural resonance of her work in this area, it's because Austen's innovative ideas have become so naturalized in fiction, so woven into the fiber of everything thereafter in both British and American fiction. It's ironic that her huge achievements are made to seem invisible by their very success.

 

This is an important point.

 

Also Austen was likely one of the people who helped develop "the novel" into its current form. There are other books from the time period that one could read for this, but skipping the time period altogether is skipping a huge development in literature. Also, Pride and Prejudice has a lot of examples of really perfect sentences that are just not to be missed (not to mention the witty observations of society). As it's a work written in English that we can mostly understand, it's one of the "foundational" works of English literature. Shakespeare and Greek tragedy can't really claim that as they both need at least some translation.

 

One could read Tom Jones instead, which is a bit earlier in the development. But I don't recall that it was as witty as Pride and Prejudice (maybe I should reread it?). Or one could read The Vicar of Wakefield, but I found Pride and Prejudice to be WAY more interesting than that.

 

I think it may be important to point out that Pride and Prejudice is not about romance. The romance is used as a plot around which the satire and societal observations are woven.

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Both my sons read it on their own...when I tried to assign it to them for school reading, they both said they had read it....and from their dialog about the book, I have no doubt that they did. They both thought it a good read. LOL!

 

My kids usually read what I give them, so if theywould really put up a fuss, I'd have to consider letting them pass on one of the books I assigned.

 

It's your choice, though. There is no right or wrong answer as far as I can tell. In this case, I'd say that you are the mom, so go with your gut.

 

:)Jean

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Advice from a Jane Austen fan:

 

Jane Austen is not great literature. It's good enough literature, though, in the same way that To Kill A Mockingbird is good enough literature, and it's assigned in high school these days because teachers believe that it's easier to get through for our much-distracted-by-other-media high school students than books by George Eliot or Charles Dickens, to say nothing of Russian or French 19th century novelists. Jane Austen is chosen because her books are shorter, and her themes are more self-contained, and she allows for a safe discussion of gender roles.

 

If you want to stretch your students, though, I believe they are much better served by reading Dostoevsky or Tolstoy, or, if you don't want them to read in translation, try Adam Bede, a middle-sized Eliot novel. Compared with Austen, Eliot wrote about a larger scope of humanity, and her themes are broad and deep and dare I say more intellectual than Austen.

 

If your student is assigned Austen in school, as mine was, I think it's okay for them to express hatred for her writing in their essays--Mark Twain had some highly critical things to say about Austen's books that will help.

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I haven't read all the other responses so forgive me if I repeat someone.

 

If he doesn't want Austen, but you want him to learn something about the Regency period, how about Horatio Hornblower? The Bronte novels I saw suggested are a great read, but they're 20+ yrs later in the Victorian era. Different manners, dress, wars. . .

 

I wouldn't let any one book (or author) spoil the semester. While we've enjoyed the P&P movies (even dh has seen them once) laughed at her picture of people, not everyone is amused. :D

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If he doesn't want Austen, but you want him to learn something about the Regency period, how about Horatio Hornblower? The Bronte novels I saw suggested are a great read, but they're 20+ yrs later in the Victorian era. Different manners, dress, wars. . .

 

 

Heaven forbid that I should disparage Forester, but I am not sure that I would use his Hornblower series as a primary text for the period. Don't get me wrong they are a fantastic read (especially for boys) but they do not have the cultural importance of Austen.

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Heaven forbid that I should disparage Forester, but I am not sure that I would use his Hornblower series as a primary text for the period. Don't get me wrong they are a fantastic read (especially for boys) but they do not have the cultural importance of Austen.

 

I agree w/you, I was just trying for the same period. :D

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