"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

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Anna Austen Lefroy had read her "Emma"

Here we have Jane Austen's niece, Anna Austen Lefroy (pictured at left) writing to her own niece, Emma Austen-Leigh, on 24 May 1869, on the subject of the Jane Austen-Tom Lefroy romance:

"I am the only person who has any faith in the tradition – nor should I probably be an exception if I had not married into the family of Lefroy – but when I came to hear again & again, from those who were old enough to remember, how the Mother had disliked Tom Lefroy because he had behaved so ill to Jane Austen, which sometimes the additional weight of the Father’s condemnation, what could I think then? Or what except to give a verdict… [of] ‘under mitigating circumstances’ – As – First, the youth of the Parties – secondly, that Mrs. Lefroy, charming woman as she was, & warm in her feelings, was also partial in her judgments – Thirdly – that for other causes, too long to enter upon, she not improbably set out with a prejudice against the Gentleman, & would have distrusted had there been no Jane Austen in the case. The one thing certain is, that to the last year of his life she was remembered as the object of his youthful admiration."
[emphasis in bold added]

Compare this to Jane Austen's character Mr Knightley, discussing Frank Churchill with Emma Woodhouse, in Emma, chapter 51:

"I was not quite impartial in my judgement, Emma; but yet, I think had you not been in the case, I should still have distrusted him."
[emphasis in bold added]

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