"Pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick & wicked"

- Jane Austen
"Jane Austen is weirdly capable of keeping everybody busy. The moralists, the Eros-and-Agape people, the Marxists, the Freudians, the Jungians, the semioticians, the deconstructors - all find an adventure playground in six samey novels about middle-class provincials. And for every generation of critics, and readers, her fiction effortlessly renews itself."

- Martin Amis, in The New Yorker

Monday, August 4, 2008

Austen Autobiographical? "Emma"

Jane Austen, writing to Cassandra about Tom Lefroy, 9 January 1796:

You scold me so much in the nice long letter which I have this moment received from you, that I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved. Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together.

Emma Woodhouse, trying to decide whether she really is in love with Frank Churchill, and whether she can mention his name without embarrassing herself:

"Now, how am I going to introduce him? Am I unequal to speaking his name at once before all these people? Is it necessary for me to use any roundabout phrase? Your Yorkshire friend -- your correspondent in Yorkshire; -- that would be the way, I suppose, if I were very bad. No, I can pronounce his name without the smallest distress. I certainly get better and better. Now for it."

There is a further link, as Tom Lefroy's brother Anthony was based in York. See Tracking Tom Lefroy and His nephew at Becoming Jane Fansite for more information on the York branch of the Lefroy family.

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