Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jane Austen for Prime Minister!

I can't remember which book it was in, but Jane Austen once had one of her heroes fretfully walk to one side of the room seemingly for no other purposes than to walk back to the other side of the room. That's a great joke, but it's also a great character observation, and it was lines like that that I first spotted when I read her books.

Occasionally I like to refresh my knowledge of her quips by reading over some of the pieces in wikiquote. They have plenty of the best lines from her letters to her sister -
You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve.

In Paragon we met Mrs Foley & Mrs Dowdeswell with her yellow shawl airing out—& at the bottom of Kinsdown Hill we met a Gentleman in a Buggy, who on minute examination turned out to be Dr Hall—& Dr Hall in such very deep mourning that either his Mother, his Wife, or himself must be dead.

I will not say that your mulberry-trees are dead, but I am afraid they are not alive.
It is a truth that should be universally acknowledged that
'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife'
is one of the most overquoted lines in the history of literature, though it's overquoted for a reason. Her line that
The day passed much as the day before had done.
really was an exception to the rule, and Mark Twain really was being a slob when he said that the omission of Jane Austen's books 'would make a fairly good library from a library that hadn't a book in it'. I'm reading Emma at the moment, and that book contains a number of good sorties that Twain would have appreciated. I quite like,
Emma's very good opinion of Frank Churchill was a little shaken the following day, by hearing that he was gone off to London, merely to have his hair cut.
Jane Austen's great. If I had my time at uni all over again, I'd totally be the sole gentleman in Laura's Jane Austen class. Incidentally, I wrote a Jane Austen parody the other day, something I seem to be in the habit of. It's a send-up of the first few lines of Emma:

Hammer Woodlouse, ugly, stupid, and poor, with a rented room and a gloomy disposition, seemed to unite all of the curses of existence, and had lived over 89 years in the world with more than enough to piss him off. He also didn't like kids.

Everyone thought it was a good show when he caught boils and died.
Not half as good as the original, though.


Caz said...

Dragging out Jane Austen again, to up the hits and the comment count.

You're an unashamed floozie.

"it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve"

I'll have to make use of that in everyday life.

Wish I'd had that line handy for the last several decades.

TimT said...

It was more a ploy to up my count of posts, which have been rather lacking of late.

nailpolishblues said...

Lacking how?

TimT said...

I meant lack of posts. This is only the third post for this week.

Dale Slamma said...

Coincidence? I think not. I have been reading Emma lately and was wondering who the man on a skateboard with a periscope was. Case closed.

alexis said...

I had the undeserved fate of tutoring in a Jane Austen course last year, and between 5 and 10% of each class were boys. They had names like "Zoltan". I just don't think "Tim" would cut it.

TimT said...

Maybe if I renamed myself Zebedee Kanaki le Melleuish I could cut it? Hmmm. For now I guess I'll just stick with the amateur austenophilia.

nailpolishblues said...

Zebedee Kanaki le Melleuish Aw, that's so cute. I am so naming y first spawn after you (okay, probably a cat, in which case second spawn but with extra evil).

Email: timhtrain - at -

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