I’m having a really good run at the classics this year. It started off with my The Classic 6 challenge and even though I’ve not yet completed that challenge (4 to go) I’ve found myself craving classics in general.
Right now I’ve started a Northanger Abbey reread which is a result of my Mansfield Park reread and well I think I might have to just reread all the Jane Austen’s which I really shouldn’t be doing given the size of my outrageous tbr but it’s the mood I’m in and Northanger is killing me with it’s wit and I feel in the mood for Jane Austen’s particular brand of shade.
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
Seriously, Austen lambastes people who judge what others read in Northanger Abbey and it is a thing of beauty. It’s basically Jane Austen having a shitfit!
“Yes, novels; for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel–writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding — joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust. Alas! If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the reviewers 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 those of 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 of 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 eulogized 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 its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language. Now, had the same young lady been engaged with a volume of the Spectator, instead of such a work, how proudly would she have produced the book, and told its name; though the chances must be against her being occupied by any part of that voluminous publication, of which either the matter or manner would not disgust a young person of taste: the substance of its papers so often consisting in the statement of improbable circumstances, unnatural characters, and topics of conversation which no longer concern anyone living; and their language, too, frequently so coarse as to give no very favourable idea of the age that could endure it.”
I feel if Jane Austen were around today she would give a very similar censure to people who comment on the legitimacy of romance which, to be honest, is likely what she was doing above anyway.
I do like Jane. She really was full of all the sass.
So yeah, I’m on an Austen kick. So I think the reading order will be:
Mansfield Park – finished and have decided that Fanny is actually one of my favourite Austen heroines.
Northanger Abbey – currently reading and is fabulous because it is Austen being all sassy with satire.
Persuasion – even though I adore second chance romances this is probably my least favourite Austen and I can’t remember why exactly so I’ll see if that’s still the case after I’ve finished.
Pride and Prejudice – very fond of it but it’s is not my most favourite to be sure.
and then I’m conflicted, I’m not sure what way to read the last two, I want to save my favourite for last but I don’t know which one my favourite is.
Emma – I adore this book but I dislike Emma intensely for most of the it but I also just love everything and everyone else in it.
Sense and Sensibility – I’m pretty sure that this is still my all time favourite? Is it really wrong that the drama of Marianne almost dying is one of the reasons I love it so much? See if Emma had almost died maybe I’d forgive her anything as well. I’ll just stop with this trying to kill off the selfish Jane Austen characters now shall I?
This kind of ended up being a Jane Austen appreciation post and she actually isn’t my favourite classic author. Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley and the Bronte sisters are listed as some of my favourites and I’m sure I’m missing a few, but as I’m in the midst of an Austen marathon this is what we get.
Didn’t think I’d have time to post today. Go me!! 😀