Jane Austen in Hong Kong
In Cocktails with Miss Austen, Hong Kong author Ophelia Tung writes about how Jane Austen taught her to find the heroine within (and why that doesn’t always mean being an Elizabeth). We caught up with her to find out what she’d do if she could share a cocktail with Jane Austen.
Cam I have a slumber party with Jane? Instead of a cocktail, I would have a cup of tea because I need to stay sober to savour every moment with my idol. But I would give Jane a glass of champagne. We would talk about literature, religion, feminism, love, fashion…everything!
My favourite Jane Austen quote is probably:
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid” by Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey.
Another favourite is:
“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more” by Mr. Knightley in Emma.
Jane Austen has certainly ruined real life men for me with words like that!
Elizabeth Bennet is my favourite Austen character, of course! I will always have a soft spot for dearest Lizzy because I was first introduced to the world of Jane Austen by the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I was instantly charmed by her infectious and radiant personality and wit (also the fact that she gets to marry Mr. Darcy, my all-time literary crush).
My fondness of Elizabeth only grows as I become older and am more in touch with my place as a woman in society. I admire Elizabeth’s unyielding bravery and loyalty in protecting her loved ones and staying true to heart. She fearlessly defies the social constraints and expectations that are supposed to bind her, and I would say she is a feminist ahead of her time.
I think Jane Austen would be amazed and touched by the scope of her legacy, that even people in today’s Hong Kong, who are from a different culture and generation, are still enamoured with her work.
I’d worry the weather in Hong Kong would be too humid and hot for her, though I am certain that she would enjoy our impeccable food!
Since I wrote my graduation thesis on the legacy of Mr. Darcy and my research proposal for grad school on the fans and cultural reception of Jane Austen, I would show her my essays and hope she would enlighten me with her insights. But honestly, I think I would be speechless if I met her, then collapse into a pool of happy tears.
Ophelia Tung of Hong Kong has recently graduated with a degree in English and minor in Cultural Studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She will proceed to further experience the torturous bliss of academia in pursuing her Masters in Literary and Cultural Studies at University of Hong Kong. Ophelia is a typical Gryffindor—she has a big voice and a bigger heart, yet an untypical Gryffindor at the same time as she believes words are louder than actions. She hopes to survive grad school to embrace more years of study and, hopefully, to make a slight difference in the world by her words and her heart.