What makes Jane Austen’s writing so extraordinary? Why is she considered by many to be one of the greatest authors in the English language? What does our esteem, or our abhorrence of her reveal about ourselves, and our culture?
In Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, one hundred personalities from actors to intellectuals have their say on literature’s queen of wit and style offering their own pithy, impassioned and often candid insights on what makes Jane Austen so special and how she influenced their own writing and lives. If you thought that you had already read most of the famous quotes on Austen over the years, then you just might be surprised by what author and editor Jennifer Adams has selected. Here are a few of my favorites to give you a teaser.
“There are some writers who wrote too much. There are others who wrote enough. There are yet others who wrote nothing like enough to satisfy their admirers, and Jane Austen is certainly one of these.” Margaret Drabble, 1974, Novelist
“How did this early-nineteenth-century novelist become the chick-lit, chick-flick queen for today? It is not only because she is an enduring writer. So is Melville, but bumper stickers and T-shirts read “What would Jane do?” not “What would Herman do?” Caryn James, 2007, Film Critic of the New York Times
“I think, the fact that we have fallen in love with Elizabeth Bennet … means, in effect, that we have fallen in love with Jane Austen; and once we do that we are lovers for life.” Frank Swinnerton, 1940, Literary Critic and Novelist
“Edmund and Fanny are both morally detestable and the endorsement of their feelings and behaviour by the author … makes Mansfield Park an immoral book.” Kingsley Amis, 1957, Novelist and Poet
“Jane Austen? I feel I am approaching dangerous ground. The reputation of Jane Austen is surrounded by cohorts of defenders who are ready to do murder for their sacred cause.” Arnold Bennett, 1927, Literary Critic
“The function of the British army in the novels of Jane Austen is to look cute at parties.” Salmon Rushdie, 2005, Novelist, Political Figure
Since the first reviews of Austen’s novels appeared in the early nineteenth-century, people have been talking about her – good and bad – leaving a rich field of research for author and editor Jennifer Adams to select from. Here she gives us a glimpse of the most famous and well quoted remarks over the centuries and some totally modern and fresh views from contemporary sources that I was not aware of. Included are an interesting mix of prominent scholars, actors, directors and fellow writers such as Helen Fielding, Ang Lee, Colin Firth, Andrew Davies, Emma Thompson, Karen Joy Fowler, Oscar Wilde, Stephanie Meyer, Mark Twain, Andy Rooney, and Charlotte Bronte. The list is quite impressive, giving due deference to this talented writer. Interestingly, I also found a new nugget of wisdom included in the forward by the author herself.
“To those of us who love Jane Austen, she is like the brightness of burnished silver. Something lovely, with sparkle, that makes our world more beautiful. I adore her. I love the pleasure she gives with a well-turned line, the way she can make you actually laugh out loud, the bite of her sarcasm, how she lets you fall in love again and again.” Jennifer Adams
Not only is Remarkably Jane packed full of illuminating insights, it is presented in a stunningly beautiful gift quality volume with exquisite black and white illustrations reminiscent of Regency drawings, skillfully honoring and acknowledging one of the most beloved and influential English novelists of all time. For sheer joy of laughter and awe, Jennifer Adams has given us a treasure.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, by Jennifer Adams
Gibbs Smith, Layton, UT (2009)
Hardcover, (128) pages