Tuesday, February 21, 2006


oh my.
And some sentences, from Simon Jarvis's 10 February TLS review of a clutch of Austen books, that make me wish I were reading Emma rather than Moby-Dick:
It seems likely that, for many of us, commentary on Jane Austen affords the scene of our first encounters with literary criticism, and, therefore, of our first disappointments with literary criticism. Not because the brightest and best haven't been the ones supplying the commentaries (they often have, at least among anglophone critics), but because it is so rarely given to literary criticism to find a style capable of facing Austen's. That style is not a container for content, nor an ornament to it, but the whole substance of whatever Austen's fiction knows. Nothing passes into her books untouched by style. After reading her, it becomes hard to tolerate any novel in which mere information or narration appears without the evidence of continuous thinking provided by work on language. The styleless author can tell us something outwardly quite probable, such as that Mr X got up from his chair and walked over to the window, and, after reading Austen, we just don't believe a word of it.
Repeat: "the evidence of continuous thinking provided by work on language."

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