The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

December 5, 2012

Only connect: Jane Austen and Henry James




The lack of evidence about her habits of composition has allowed a long tradition of condescension to her. Henry James seemed to thnk that Austen had not known what she was doing, technically speaking. While conceding that her stature was assured -- she was 'one of those of the shelved and safe' -- he thought that she 'leaves us hardly more curious of he process, or of the experience that fed it, than the brown thrush who tells his story from the garden bough'. She had all the 'grace' of 'her unconsciousness', he thought, finding for her process of composition the metaphor of a woman with her work basket, making her tapestry flowers and occasionally dropping stitches as she 'fell a-musing'. There has hardly been a novelist more conscious of his methods than James... He knew just what he was doing, but then what he was doing was built on Jane Austen's fearless innovations. It was Austen who taught later novelists to filter narration through the minds of their own characters. It was Austen who made dialogue the evidence of motives that were never stated. It was Austem, a Jamesian avant la lettre, who made the morality with which her characters act depend on the nice judgements of her readers. Why should she not know what she was doing?

{Silly Henry. I just couldn't resist this little Jane and Henry throwdown.}

 

No comments:

Thank you for visiting!

Card Catalog

#6barsets #emma200th #maisie #PalliserParty #Woolfalong A.A. Milne Agatha Christie Alexander McCall Smith Allison Pearson Amy Lowell Angela Thirkell Ann Bridge Anne Perry Anthony Trollope Anticipation Armchair Travels Art Audiobooks Barbara Pym Biography Bloomsbury Bookish things Boston British Library Crime Classics Cambridge Cathleen Schine Charles Dickens Coffee-table books Cookbooks D.E. Stevenson Deborah Crombie Donna Leon Dorothy L. Sayers Dorothy Whipple E.H. Young E.M. Delafield E.M. Forster Edith Wharton Elinor Lipman Elizabeth Gaskell Elizabeth Jenkins Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth von Arnim Ellizabeth Taylor Emily Dickinson Ernest Hemingway Eudora Welty Fiction Films Food from Books Food Writing Found on a Blog George Eliot Georgette Heyer Helen Ashton Henry James History Homes and Haunts Ideas Imogen Robertson Isabella Stewart Gardner Jacqueline Winspear Jane Austen Joanna Trollope Julia Child Language Laurie Colwin Letters Library Books Literature Louise Andrews Kent Louise Penny M.F.K. Fisher Madame Bovary Madame de Sévigné Madame de Staël Margaret Kennedy Margery Sharp Martha Grimes Mary Shelley Memoirs Miss Read My Year with Edith Mysteries Nathaniel Hawthorne Nonfiction Nook Only Connect P.D. James Paris in July Persephones Plays Poetry Pride and Prejudice 200 Queen Victoria R.I.P. Reading England 2015 Ruth Rendell Sarah Orne Jewett Short Stories Switzerland Sylvia Beach Team Middlemarch The 1924 Club The Brontës the Carlyles The Classics Club Thomas Hardy Virago Virginia Woolf Washington Irving Willa Cather William Maxwell Winifred Peck Winifred Watson