“The Pursuit of Goals of the Unruly Ego”

Jane Austen’s classic novel Emma had a birthday; she turned 200 a year ago.

A writer for Britain’s The Guardian described the original novel:

Its heroine is a self-deluded young woman with the leisure and power to meddle in the lives of her neighbours. The narrative was radically experimental because it was designed to share her delusions. The novel bent narration through the distorting lens of its protagonist’s miemma-book-covernd.

Emma, has undergone updating by author Alexander McCall Smith. A deliciously clever reincarnation of that “self-deluded young woman” inhabits the pages of this modern retelling.

While I haven’t compared the two books side-by-side, I will say that in both cases the story has a moral.

Almost an imperative, since [SPOILER ALERT] the novel ends with these words:  “You do it too.”

Almost biblical, the ending sets readers on a mission to recognize in themselves the impulse to control other people and manage situations, trying to make improvements in other people’s lives.

And like Emma, we who would do likewise would also expect both to congratulate ourselves for our successes and to receive thanks from those who benefit from our meddling.

Sharing Emma’s delusions

Read more