I think what I like best about Jane Austen’s romances is the lack of physical contact. By the time you get to the end of the book and Lizzy and Mr. Darcy are violently in love not one kiss has been given, received, or even thought about. They have taken walks. They have talked endlessly through their disagreements, emotions, and desires and have walked back into the happy and messy Bennet house. But they haven’t held hands and Ms. Austen hasn’t shed a single drop of ink on their physical interest in each other.
One of my dear friends once told me she thought women were more rational than men. She couldn’t have been more serious and determined in her claim and I couldn’t have been more quietly skeptical. This, my skepticism, I am now skeptical about. Jane Austen has written some of the greatest romances we know, or at least some of the most culture shaping, and she did it strictly through the emotional and largely intellectual connection of her main characters. That’s an achievement and it seems to point in the direction of my friend’s conclusion: Jane Austen was intensely rational. For her a romance was a connection of minds and souls, hearts and desires, personalities and temperaments, but not bodies.
Or perhaps she was simply living in early-Victorian England where such talk was not allowed.
I don’t know. I do think I’m likely in love with Mr. Darcy though. And Elizabeth would make an inspiring and heart-felt friend. Jane Austen never got married and she wrote, I believe, primarily about love. I think I’m a bit sad about that. She died at 41. I am now not too many years from her death year. I still hope to be married. I still hope to have children. Somehow I am to be lucky while Ms. Austen was not. Dear Ms. Austen, I hope for a love as you describe. Not ultimately lacking physicality, but certainly a deep emotional and intellectual connection. Perhaps I ask too much. It appears Jane Austen did.