Charlotte Bronte did not like Jane Austen’s writing — not enough poetry or passion in it for her. But they would have agreed on the need to keep to their own styles. This is how Bronte responded when someone suggested she write more like Austen:
“Whenever I do write another book, I think I will have nothing of what you call “melodrama.” I think so, but I am not sure. I think, too, I will endeavour to follow the counsel which shines out of Miss Austen’s “mild eyes,” to finish more, and be more
subdued; but neither am I sure of that. When authors write best, or, at least, when they write most fluently, an influence seems to waken in them which becomes their master — which will have its way — putting out of view all behests but its own, dictating certain words, and insisting on their being used, whether vehement or measured in their nature, new moulding characters, giving unthought of turns to incidents, rejecting carefully elaborated old ideas, and suddenly creating and adopting new ones. Is it not so? And should we try to counteract this influence? Can we indeed counteract it?”
Mrs. Gaskell’s Life of Miss Bronte, vol. ii p. 53 (emphasis mine)
Thanks to pemberley.com for this quote
More of Bronte’s thoughts on Austen here.
Today we venture into pop culture for a quote from You’ve Got Mail, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I love how he turns this into an insult . . . “I bet you just love Mr. Darcy.” Heh! This is from the scene where she’s waiting for her mystery emailer to meet her, and Joe walks in instead. Read more here.
JOE Kathleen Kelly. Hello. What a coincidence. Mind if I sit down?
KATHLEEN Yes I do. I'm expecting someone.
Joe picks up her book, looks at it.
JOE Pride and Prejudice.
Kathleen grabs it back.
KATHLEEN Do you mind?
She places it back on the table, puts the rose into it.
JOE I didn't know you were a Jane Austen fan. Not that it's a surprise. I bet you read it every year.
I bet you just love Mr. Darcy, and that your sentimental heart beats wildly at the thought that he and
whatever her name is are really, honestly and truly going to end up together.
KATHLEEN Would you please leave?
Joe sits down.
JOE I'll get up as soon as your friend comes. Is he late?
KATHLEEN The heroine of Pride and Prejudice is Elizabeth Bennet and she's one of the greatest, most
complex characters ever written, not that you would know.
JOE As a matter of fact I've read it.
KATHLEEN Well, good for you.
JOE I think you'd discover a lot of things if you really knew me.
KATHLEEN If I really knew you, I know what I would find -- instead of a brain, a cash register, instead
of a heart, a bottom line.
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).
Normally I will not be posting on Saturdays, but as it is the anniversary of Jane’s birthday, I wanted to share these lines from Rudyard Kipling:
Jane lies in Winchester–
Blessed be her shade!
Praise the Lord for making her,
And her for all she made!
And while the stones of Winchester,
Or Milsom Street, remain,
Glory, love, and honour
Unto England’s Jane!
Jane is buried in Winchester, of course, and Milsom Street was (and
still is) one of the fashionable shopping streets in Bath. Anne,
Elizabeth, and Mrs. Clay in Persuasion
are in Milsom Street when they duck into Molland’s to escape the rain
and Anne spots Captain Wentworth for the first time since the tragedy
Like Jane, I found the fashionable Bath shops too
expensive for more than window shopping. (Although I did find a
fantastic bead store that helped me make a necklace with a cross I
bought at Alton Abbey. It’s called Bijoux Beads on 2 Abbey Street just
a stone’s throw from the Roman Baths. I highly recommend it!)
The picture is St. Nicholas church in Steventon, where Jane’s father was rector.