More today from Chesterton:
“These pages betray her secret; which is that she was naturally exuberant. And her power came, as all power comes, from the control and direction of that exuberance. . . . her original passion was a sort of joyous scorn and a fighting spirit against all that she regarded as morbid and lax and poisonously silly.”
G.K. Chesterton, from the introduction to Love & Freindship
Chatto & Windus, 1922
Many thanks to Helen Scott at Chawton House Library for helping me track this quote down.
Love his description of Jane’s “joyous scorn,” which just captures her, to my mind.
A slight diversion today — ran across this Chesterton quote from his introduction to a 1922 edition of Jane’s Love and Freindship and had to share it.
“Jane Austen was not inflamed or inspired or even moved to be a genius. Her fire, what there was of it, began with herself; like the fire of the first man who rubbed two sticks together. Some would say that they were very dry sticks which she rubbed together. It is certain that she by her own artistic talent made interesting what thousands of superficially similar people would have made dull.”
Love and Freindship is one of Jane’s juvenalia stories, dedicated to her glamorous cousin Eliza, the “Madame La Comtesse De Feuillide.” Eliza’s French husband was not actually a count, he only liked to be known as one, which is a story for another day. I’ve not read it yet, and I’ve actually not read any Chesterton, but he’s on my list.
The misspelling of friendship in the title is on purpose — that’s how Jane wrote it. I’ve heard people say that she did that as a joke, but if you read through her letters, she was always reversing the i‘s and e’s in things (then again, she was always joking).