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Friday, November 5

Friday Follow

This Friday we follow Andrew Lang, whose lovely letter to Jane Austen After Her Death is thought-provoking, though at first not easy to grasp. Here are two excerpts:
You are not a very popular author: your volumes are not found in gaudy covers on every bookstall; or, if found, are not perused with avidity by the Emmas and Catherines of our generation. ‘Tis not long since a blow was dealt (in the estimation of the unreasoning) at your character as an author by the publication of your familiar letters. The editor of these epistles, unfortunately, did not always take your witticisms, and he added others which were too unmistakably his own. While the injudicious were disappointed by the absence of your exquisite style and humour, the wiser sort were the more convinced of your wisdom.
The letter is filled with irony and needs a second reading, for Mr. Lang's language is old-fashioned. His thoughts take us on meandering and eventually satisfying read:
Your heroines are not passionate, we do not see their red wet cheeks, and tresses dishevelled in the manner of our frank young Maenads. What says your best successor, a lady who adds fresh lustre to a name that in fiction equals yours? She says of Miss Austen: “Her heroines have a stamp of their own. THEY HAVE A CERTAIN GENTLE SELF-RESPECT AND HUMOUR AND HARDNESS OF HEART . . . Love with them does not mean a passion as much as an interest, deep and silent.” I think one prefers them so, and that Englishwomen should be more like Anne Elliot than Maggie Tulliver.

1 comment:

Paul L. said...

i'm not much for understanding the high and noble duty of novelists, but I think many learned men would do well to understand that they would have much less travailling of the soul (whatever that is) if they opened their hearts to the love of a good woman that is the very heart of happiness for any man's life - I think Jane Austen understood this truth better than most