I remember going through the pages of my first classic novel- an abridged version of Pride and Prejudice. The sundry romance between Lizzie and Darcy and clash of personalities as ably portrayed by Jane Austen made me fall in love with the Victorian Era. Earl Grey Tea society was what I longed for. After that Jane Austen’s Classics became a conduit for acquiring the tastes and sensibilities of Victoria’s England. Though, sense did not prevail, which I was to realise later. I too basked in the animation of waiting for a Darcy, like so many other damsels who fell in love with the ‘hero’. After consuming all of Austen’s work I went on to consume movie adaptations of her novellas. One of the main reasons adoring Austen was she gave a medium to bibliophiles like us to live our own fairy tale. A woman well read and well versed in different sciences would be considered a danger to promising suitors.
Jane Austen remained a spinster throughout her life, though managed to grab headlines by having an affair with one of the Lord Chief Justices of Ireland. She made nerds like me be wooed by the handsomest (and richest obviously) men of the country. She laid the groundwork of a plain but witty jane being pursued by a wealthy suitor. Barbara Cartland and Mills & Boon loosely derive from her masterpieces. Jane Austen created for female bibliophiles a world of happy and prosperous endings.
I considered myself an Elizabeth with a sprinkle of Fanny-ness and a dint of Emma-ness waiting to be discovered by a Darcy. I wouldn’t let the Fanny Price or Emma partake the Elizabeth in me, because it was Lizzie who got Darcy from the rich estate of Pemberly. Notwithstanding the fact that Fanny and Emma both got their share of happy endings, but it was Elizabeth’s romance which made your tummy somersault in glee. All these damsels were distressing my grey cells. Being a bibliophile is a tough nugget because you place yourself on a different plain all together. You know you have probably read more than your ancestors did in their lifetime. I tried to be the intellectual bibliophile who would rant away judgments like Lizzie, quote literature like Fanny and have the blunt nose on its toes touching the troposphere like Emma.
After waiting for quite some time for a Darcy, [my entire teenage years that too], the gush of rebellion and revolution rubbed off me. The wait made one look outside oneself for happiness and contentment. Like my peers who enjoyed the freedom of anguish, abuse and altercation; Victoria’s England condemned me to cross the Rubicon line dividing dandy Englishness and brash nihilism. The discomfiture of etiquette paved the way for my surging interest in FEMINISM.
Suddenly slogans like ‘burn the bra’, ‘kill patriarchy’ seemed tempting than the arduous wait for Darcy. Virginia Woolf’s Room of One’s View became the new solace. Her beliefs afforded us the laziness of a long summer afternoon without having to worry about appearances. If Darcy wanted a Pommy Elizabeth then he needn’t be pine-d for. Though Virginia Woolf herself abhorred feminism, her views branched out from the same tree. Femin-opia sneezed out radical Austen-opia from my system.
I was dandling between two extremes. One symbolised the triumph of self and the other the triumph of union. Which one was superior? I reached a deal; Union would only triumph if the self triumphs. Consequently, two halves make one. The question is each half that wholesome enough to complete a union? How lucky are most of us to get a complete half? These questions rattled my brain and till date I cannot arrive at an answer. Could there ever be a middle path? Not for those who’d call a spade a spade. It would probably be best to not pay heed to that particular part of the brain receptive to such whimsies.
The pace at which social-mingling occurs is frightening for those playing the middle monkey between the above ideologies. They try to catch the ball from a convenient angle in a desperate rush to animate their literary adventures. I can say without the slightest hint of crimson that I belong to this category. We try to shun ourselves from the surrounding 4th gear like environment. Even the Almighty prefers to watch you play from the stands. In that case, I too become an incomplete half. Thus my aspirations for a Union are far-fetched and hypocritical. A safe distance from ‘annihilation’ is much better than evaporating yourself.
Which tale, theory should I stick to? Or should I even keep a reference point? Can I ever be without a reference point? Queries creating mumbo jumbo in my grey cells