09 March 2009

Weekly Geeks: A Quote a Day #3

Jane in defence of the novel:

Alas! If the heroine of one novel may not be patronised by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection or regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the Reveiwers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers; and while the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogised by a thousand pens, there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. ‘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 it varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.
- Northanger Abbey, pp. 24-25.

Quote #1
Quote #2

3 comments:

DeSeRt RoSe said...

Nice quote :)

Ruth @ Bookish Ruth said...

This is one of my favorite quotes from Northanger Abbey. Great choice!

Sandra said...

Interesting thoughts. I know too many (men, ususally) who have the same opinion of fiction today. More's the pity. Thanks again for a taste of Austen.

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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776