December 23, 2015

To Emma, on her birthday




The idea that social life is just — on the marriage market and elsewhere — is the greatest fiction in Jane Austen, and the one that makes her happy endings possible. ... But it is also the key to her wonderfully intimate imagination of happiness. Few books make the reader as happy as “Emma,” because few depict so well the joy of being understood, the way Mr. Knightley understands Emma Woodhouse. For all of Austen’s heroines, it is this sense of being truly seen, of marrying a man who loves them as they really are, that is the great reward. The institution of marriage, like the novel itself, has changed greatly since Austen’s time; but as long as human beings long for this kind of mutual recognition and understanding, “Emma” will live.

— from "What Do Jane Austen’s Novels Have to Tell Us About Love
and Life Today?", by Adam Kirsch, in the New York Times Book Review


5 comments:

JoAnn said...

Perfect quote... and part of the reason Emma has been such a perfect December read!

Jane @ Beyond Eden Rock said...

Thank you - that is perfect!

Bellezza said...

What a wonderful way to look at this novel! I know that I greatly admire, and enjoy, Mr. Knightley, and this explains why (in part). Who doesn't want to be seen and loved despite one's flaws? Thanks, Audrey, for reading with me and sharing this insight.

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

A perfect quote!

Cosy Books said...

Stopping by to wish you a very Merry Christmas, Audrey!