Zbiór listów Jane Austen adresowanych głównie do jej rodziny. Autorka koresponduje na temat życia rodzinnego, a także pisanych przez nią powieści. Dzięki listom możemy poznać ją niemalże osobiście. Poznajemy fakty i przemyślenia, których nie zawiera tworzona przez nią literatura.
Jane Austen – któż o niej nie słyszał?! Ta bardzo utalentowana autorka powieści opisywała życie angielskiej klasy wyższej z początku XIX wieku. Mimo, że sama wiodła stosunkowo odosobnione życie na prowincji w hrabstwie Hampshire, nie pozbawiło jej to zmysłu obserwacji i nie zubożyło dramaturgii jej utworów. Ich fabuła najczęściej dotyczy zamążpójścia i związanych z tym problemów społecznych (co ciekawe, sama Austen nigdy nie wyszła za mąż!). Reputację wyśmienitej pisarki zyskała już za życia – jej powieści chwalił m.in. Walter Scott. Do dziś ekranizuje się dzieła Austen, a jej powieści pozyskują rzesze wielbicielek. [Wikipedia\
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Darmowy fragment publikacji:
The Letters of Jane Austen
Ilustracja na okładce: 1873, Unknown author, Wikimedia Commons
Wydawnictwo Wymownia: www.wymownia.pl
The Letters of Jane Austen
by Jane Austen
THE recent cult for Miss Austen, which has resulted in no less than ten new editions
of her novels within a decade and three memoirs by different hands within as many
years, have made the facts of her life familiar to most readers. It was a short life, and
an uneventful one as viewed from the standpoint of our modern times, when steam
and electricity have linked together the ends of the earth, and the very air seems
teeming with news, agitations, discussions. We have barely time to recover our
breath between post and post; and the morning paper with its statements of disaster
and its hints of still greater evils to be, is scarcely out-lived, when, lo! in comes the
evening issue, contradicting the news of the morning, to be sure, but full of omens
and auguries of its own to strew our pillows with the seed of wakefulness.
To us, publications come hot and hot from the press. Telegraphic wires like the
intricate and incalculable zigzags of the lightning ramify above our heads; and who
can tell at what moment their[iv] darts may strike? In Miss Austen s day the tranquil,
drowsy, decorous English day of a century since, all was different. News travelled
then from hand to hand, carried in creaking post-wagons, or in cases of extreme
urgency by men on horseback. When a gentleman journeying in his own chaise
took three days in going from Exeter to London, a distance now covered in three
hours of railroad, there was little chance of frequent surprises. Love, sorrow, and
death were in the world then as now, and worked their will upon the sons of men;
but people did not expect happenings every day or even every year. No doubt they
lived the longer for this exemption from excitement, and kept their nerves in a state
of wholesome repair; but it goes without saying that the events of which they knew
so little did not stir them deeply.
Miss Austen s life coincided with two of the momentous epochs of history,—the
American struggle for independence, and the French Revolution; but there is scarcely
an allusion to either in her letters. She was interested in the fleet and its victories
because two of her brothers were in the navy and had promotion and prize-money to
look forward to. In this connection she mentions Trafalgar and the Egyptian
expedition, and generously remarks that she would read Southey s Life of Nelson
if there was anything in it about her brother Frank! She honors Sir John Moore
by[v] remarking after his death that his mother would perhaps have preferred to have
him less distinguished and still alive; further than that, the making of the gooseberry
jam and a good recipe for orange wine interests her more than all the marchings and
countermarchings, the man[oe]uvres and diplomacies, going on the world over. In
the midst of the universal vortex of fear and hope, triumph and defeat, while the fate
of Britain and British liberty hung trembling in the balance, she sits writing her
letters, trimming her caps, and discussing small beer with her sister in a lively and
unruffled fashion wonderful to contemplate. The society of rural England in those
days, as Mr. Goldwin Smith happily puts it, enjoyed a calm of its own in the midst
of the European tempest like the windless centre of a circular storm.
The point of view of a woman with such an environment must naturally be
circumscribed and narrow; and in this Miss Austen s charm consists. Seeing little,
she painted what she saw with absolute fidelity and a dexterity and perfection
unequalled. On her was bestowed, though in a humble form, the gift which had been
bestowed on Homer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Scott, and a few others,—the gift of
creative power. Endowed with the keenest and most delicate insight and a vivid
sense of humor, she depicted with exactitude what she observed and what she
understood, giving[vi] to each fact and emotion its precise shade and value. The
things she did not see she did not attempt. Affectation was impossible to her,—most
of all, affectation of knowledge or feeling not justly her own. She held the mirror
up to her time with an exquisite sincerity and fidelity; and the closeness of her study
brought her intimately near to those hidden springs which underlie all human nature.
This is the reason why, for all their skimp skirts, leg-of-mutton sleeves, and bygone
impossible bonnets, her characters do not seem to us old-fashioned. Minds and hearts
are made pretty much after the same pattern from century to century; and given a
modern dress and speech, Emma or Elizabeth or dear Anne Eliot could enter a
drawing-room to-day, and excite no surprise except by so closely resembling the
people whom they would find there.
Miss Austen s novels are dateless things, Mr. Augustine Birrell tells us.
Nobody in his senses would speak of them as old novels. John Inglesant is an old
novel, so is Ginx s Baby. But Emma is quite new, and, like a wise woman, affords
few clues to her age.
We allude with a special touch of affection to Anne Eliot. Persuasion, which
was written during the last two years of Miss Austen s life, when the refining touch
of Eternity was already upon her, has always seemed to us the most perfect of her
novels; and Anne, with her exquisite[vii] breeding and unselfish straightforwardness,
just touched with the tender reserve of memory and regret, one of her best
portraitures. But this is a matter of individual taste. Doubtless Elizabeth Bennet is
better fun as the modern girl would say. Miss Austen herself preferred her. She had
a droll and pretty way of talking about her characters which showed how real they
were to her own mind, and made them equally real to other people. In 1813 she had
the good luck to light upon a portrait of Jane Bennet at an exhibition.
I was very well pleased (pray tell Fanny) with a small portrait of Mrs. Bingley,
excessively like her. I went in hopes of seeing one of her sister, but there was no
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