Category Archives: Art

The greatest powers of the mind

“‘I am no novel reader — I seldom look into novels — Do not imagine that I often read novels — It is really very well for a novel.’ — Such is the common cant — ‘And what are you reading, Miss—?’ “Oh! it is only a novel!’ replies the young lady; while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame.–‘It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda;’ or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.”

Jane as narrator commenting on the value of her profession; the books she refers to are by Fanny Burney (Cecilia and Camilla) and Maria Edgeworth (Belinda)
Northanger Abbey, chapter 5

I have read Burney’s Evelina–a wonderful Christmas gift from my roommate last year–and loved it.  If you are done with the Austen canon and looking for further reading, I highly recommend Burney.  Another related book on my to-be-read list is Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, which Jane spoofs here in NA.

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Poor, slighted novelists

” . . . there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labor of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them.”

Jane as narrator commenting on the value of her profession
Northanger Abbey, chapter 5

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An artist’s nature

“I hope George was pleased with my designs.  Perhaps they would have suited his as well had they been less elaborately finished; but an artist cannot do anything slovenly.”

letter to Cassandra
November 17, 1798 [11]

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