Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Jane Austen phenomenon

The Wilson Quarterly reviews a couple of books that clarify some myths and explain some facts. The author didn't sneak around to do her writing, for instance, and her fame has ebbed and flowed over time. At the moment we're at high flow (zombie books, for Pete's sake!), but another flow was about a century ago. "By 1905 Henry James, jealous as ever of the success of another writer—even a dead one—was grousing about 'the body of publishers, editors, illustrators, producers of the pleasant twaddle of magazines; who have found their "dear," our dear, everybody’s dear, Jane so infinitely to their material purpose, so amenable to pretty reproduction in every variety of what is called tasteful, and in what seemingly proves to be saleable, form.' From a hundred years beyond James, one can only say he didn’t know the half of it." More...

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