A tribute to Jane Austen

LAHORE – Never has a woman influenced readers’ hearts and minds like Jane Austen.

Women writers said at a panel discussion on the book ‘Austenistan’, an anthology of seven short stories launched on Saturday to celebrate Jane Austen’s bicentenary at British Council.  The book was written by seven Pakistani writers who joined hands to reproduce themes of Jane Austen in contemporary era.  Moni Mohsin, a Pakistani writer based in London, moderated the panel discussion.

Eighteenth century writer Jane Austen, who is famous for her novel Pride and Prejudice, has huge fan following globally and her writings are equally liked by English-speaking community in Pakistan.

On the occasion, a dramatic reading was staged from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Produced by Olomopolo Media, the reading featured Samiya Mumtaz, Zara Peerzada and British theatre and film actor Adrian Lukis. Adrian is a British actor who played Mr. Wickham in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. He is in town for book launch. Zara Peerzada clad 18th century white dress and received huge applause from the audience.

Laaleen Sukhera told The Nation the Jane Austen Society in Pakistan will be publishing this book in other languages.

Speaking on the occasion, Sukhera, said Jane Austen is so much relevant today because Regency England society is like today’s Pakistan. Themes, characters and plots are relevant even today, she said.

Sania said she liked the approach of Austen and the way she build up the characters. “Austen is a timeless writer, especially her characters,” she said.

Panelists pointed out that today’s women are facing same issues like women of Austen’s age. They have limited options when it comes to marrying men of their choice. Austen has playfulness in her stories, she added.

Sonia said there was a lot of human psychology in Jane Austen’s novels and keen observation of society, which lacks in today’s fiction writers. “Austen characters give love a chance, not cynically but just to give a chance,” she said.

At the heart of every book there is a family, other than romance, Moni Mohsin said. Austen’s heroines are never married losers, she said.

 

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