Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Forays in Fiction: Quote

Jane Austen was quoted by Doris Lessing on page 285 of Time Bites in the essay, Problems, Myths and Stories and wasn't attributed to a source which there must have been one since even Lessing, now in her 90s could not have been speaking face to face with Jane.

Lessing says Jane is here responding to critics who accuse novels and her Northanger Abbey of being full of triviality:

...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 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 Cecillia, 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.

0 tell me a story:

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