Bloom's Classic Critical Views: Jane Austen by Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom

By Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom

Famous for her witty depictions of English nation existence and sharply satirical perspectives of sophistication constitution and human habit, 19th-century novelist, Jane Austen's works own a undying attraction for either basic readers and literary students. This quantity showcases essays from Austen's personal period of time and past that create a portrait of this author.

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The best invention does not consist in finding new language for characters, but in finding the true language for them. It is easy to invent a language never spoken by any one out of books; but it is so far from easy to invent—that is, to find out—the language which certain characters would speak and did speak, that in all the thousands of volumes written since Richardson and Fielding, every difficulty is more frequently overcome than that. If the reader fails to perceive the extraordinary merit of Miss Austen’s representation of character, let him try himself to paint a portrait which shall be at once many-sided and interesting, without employing any but the commonest colours, without calling in the aid of eccentricity, exaggeration, or literary “effects;” or let him carefully compare the writings of Miss Austen with those of any other novelist, from Fielding to Thackeray.

33 Every species of composition, is, when good, to be admired in its way; but the revival of the domestic novel would make a pleasant interlude to the showy, sketchy, novels of high life. Notes 26. In Northanger Abbey (1818), the heroine Catherine Morland feels “heartily ashamed of her ignorance” about a particular topic of discussion. Austen’s narrator intervenes: “A misplaced shame. Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well-informed mind is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid.

In Northanger Abbey (1818), the heroine Catherine Morland feels “heartily ashamed of her ignorance” about a particular topic of discussion. Austen’s narrator intervenes: “A misplaced shame. Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well-informed mind is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing any thing, should conceal it as well as she can” (chapter XIV).

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