Published: 17th December 2018
This Hyderabadi Jane Austen admirer set up a society exclusively for fans to discuss the author's works
Soumya Guntoor started the society, which also has a Facebook page, to create a forum where Austen fans can get together and discuss and dissect Austen
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that Jane Austen was a force to be reckoned with. For someone who passed away 200 years ago and wrote seven novels in her lifetime, Austen continues to charm her way into the hearts of many readers. By now, we all know that her novels were not just about marriage and relationships, they were a critique of society itself. Though we will always be grateful to her (and Colin Firth) for giving us Mr Darcy, there are other unforgettable characters she is credited for like the compulsive matchmaker Emma, sarcastic Mr Bennett, the selfish Sir Walter Elliot and one of the first manipulative ladies of English Literature, Lady Susan Vernon. But why are we waxing eloquent about Austen now? Because her birth anniversary is coming up on December 16 and boy, does it call for a celebration.
Guntoor feels that Persuasion is a novel that deals with second chances at love with the same person. "It has witty quotes, deals with the age of men and women vis-a-vis marriage,” she says
Keeping this English novelist relevant is not a task per say, thanks to her appeal, but there is one woman out there who is doing her bit anyway - Soumya Guntoor, self-confessed bookworm and a fan of Austen, who started The Jane Austen Society of India less than a year ago. This Hyderabadi teaches English and French independently, has been an interpreter at the Military World Games 2007 and loves writing letters. She started the society, which also has a Facebook page, to create a forum where Austen fans can get together and discuss and dissect Austen, her works and her characters. "There are so many subjects like sociology and class that the novels touch upon, there is just so much to talk about," says the very excited Guntoor. Also, the Facebook page ensures that you get a daily fix of all things Austen as Guntoor shares all the articles that are published about the wonderful author. "We also encourage our followers to write about the author," says Guntoor, who herself has written about how the empire waist dresses are not the only thing common between Anarkali (who fell in love with the son of Mughal Emperor Akbar) and Austen. We also hear that the fifth great-niece of legendary author Jane Austen, Caroline Jane Knight is also a follower of this page. Wow!
Jane Austen was a keen observer of people and all her characters were well-researched
Soumya Guntoor, Founder, The Jane Austen Society of India| (Pic: Soumya Guntoor)
Guntoor herself draws strength from Austen and the characters she has etched, her favourite support system being Emma. "Whenever I feel low, I turn to this book and I instantly feel better," she says. In the future, Guntoor has several plans lined up for the society. While a website or a blog is certainly on the cards, other plans like a ball and tea parties are still underway. "We live in a world that is so depressing, the news makes me cry. So my goal is to create a safe space," says Guntoor. And what better safe space than the words of an iconic writer who still resonates, loud and clear.
Little known facts about Jane Austen
- A certain Harris Bigg-Wither had proposed marriage to Austen, which she accepted but went on to break it of the very next day.
- When she was little, Austen had caught 'putrid fever' which she could have died of
- Her first novel Sense and Sensibility did not carry her name. It said it was published 'By a lady'
- What she died of, at the age of 41, still remains a mystery
For more on them, click on facebook.com/JaneAustenFansIndia