Posted: 24th Sep 2015
In the first of our "Insults & Inspirations" posts we look at the insults thrown at Jane Austen by certain authors (that are named and shamed)... and how other authors found inspiration in her work. It's a mixed bag and you may be taken aback at the vitriol and sheer bitchiness of the insults, especially when you consider the stature of those quoted.
"There is no story in it, except that Miss Emma found that the man whom she designed for Harriet's lover was an admirer of her own—& he was affronted at being refused by Emma & Harriet wore the willow—and smooth, thin water-gruel is according to Emma's father's opinion a very good thing & it is very difficult to make a cook understand what you mean by smooth, thin water-gruel."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Miss Austen’s novels… seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in the wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world. Never was life so pinched and narrow. The one problem in the mind of the writer… is marriageableness."
"I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone."
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
"The realism and life-likeness of Miss Austen’s Dramatis Personae come nearest to those of Shakespeare. Shakespeare however is a sun to which Jane Austen, tho’ a bright and true little world, is but an asteroid."