"Pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick & wicked"

- Jane Austen
"Jane Austen is weirdly capable of keeping everybody busy. The moralists, the Eros-and-Agape people, the Marxists, the Freudians, the Jungians, the semioticians, the deconstructors - all find an adventure playground in six samey novels about middle-class provincials. And for every generation of critics, and readers, her fiction effortlessly renews itself."

- Martin Amis, in The New Yorker

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Let's start off this blog with some musings about Emma, stimulated by the recent run on ABC television of the Emmy-winning 1996 adaptation starring Kate Beckinsale.

The novel, I must abjectly confess to my sister Janeites, I have been attempting to read for the past 30 years, without actually ever managing to make it to the end. However, this time we have great hopes that we will actually get there. But don't you just hate Mr Woodhouse? I want to slap some sense into the man, and every time he appears on the page, I am tempted to throw the book across the room (I must confess to feeling slightly guilty about this).

However, recently, I've been reading a splendid book of Austen criticism by Darryl Jones, Professor of English literature at Trinity College, Dublin. The book is Critical Issues: Jane Austen, Palgrave, 2004.

This is what he has to say about Mr Woodhouse - "Decades of reading, studying, teaching and writing about Jane Austen have only served to strengthen my sense that, far from a cherishably comic character, Mr Woodhouse is a pampered, whingeing, cretinous leech - a one-man justification for the class war and literature's best advert for compulsory euthanasia. In fact I'd happily kill him myself, given the chance."

Hear, hear Dr Jones, hear hear!

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