She's neither bitter nor boisterous about her people; instead, she has irony, tenderness, clear vision, and most of all, a gorgeous sense of their absurdity, which is never really exaggerated into more than life-size. ,,, She does not have to distort or magnify what they're like; she just recognizes them, delights in them herself, and then creates them for our benefit...So there they are, her characters, concentrated for our benefit into a small circle of time and space, deliciously giving themselves away not only in action but by the smallest working of their motives and preoccupations; absolutely unaware, of course, that anyone is catching them out in it. It's mo crime to be a lover of Jane Austen; but if you aren't, you can't understand why we find her so restful, because you're much too inclined to translate 'restful' into 'soporific'; if we just wanted an author who would send us nicely to sleep , we should not go to Jane Austen; she's restful from exactly the opposite reason: we're alert all the time when we're reading and re-reading and re-re-reading Jane, otherwise we might miss something, some tiny exquisite detail, an almost imperceptible movement in the mind of one of her characters. ... the air of Bath is relaxing, but the air of Jane Austen isn't; she's pungent, she's bracing, you're breathing good air while you read Jane, and so you feel well.
I realized last night that I actually have to return this book to the college library in ten days, and wouldn't be able to take it out again for a while. I hope all our little problems are this nice. )