Why does no one “get” Jane Austen?

In this defense of Jane Austen by way of a book review, everyone (reviewer, author, etc.) seems to miss the point. Jane Austen uses humour to critique her social class – there is nothing more tragically funny than Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood deciding that his half-sisters didn’t need all that much money to live on. The review quotes from an Austen letter in which she seems to portray herself as trivial – but the exaggeration Austen uses in the letter is obviously ironic (although it seems like everyone misses it). Others may see her as focused on a narrow world and class – but from this milieu she comments on human nature – its hypocrisies and weaknesses. It’s Austen’s own fault – her characters and plot structures are so strong that most readers miss the irony. Why do we not allow Austen and other women authors to be funny? Perhaps this is the largest disrespect of all.


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