I was looking up used copies of the Cambridge University Press annotated Pride and Prejudice (which costs on average $130 ( I keep hoping to run into a cheaper one) when I came across this review:
Though this book had a fascinating plot, the characters lacked depth, and the grammar was actually fairly disappointing. This book exemplifies how much classic literature was popular for good, yet simple stories…rather than over-the-top works in the vein of Umberto Eco’s writing.
This person was disappointed by Austen’s grammar. I’m going to pin this up somewhere so I can refer to it as an excellent example of asshat-ery.
I have trouble reading Eco, but I think it’s because he writes in Italian and then it gets translated to English. Somehow translations always leave me a little off balance. But over-the-top? His stuff is good. His Foucault’s Pendulum was far better than Brown’s da Vinci Code on the same topic.
Austen’s grammar? Who am I to fault 1800 grammar? Of course it’s different. Depth of character? A writer of the same era, Sir Walter Scott wrote cardboard characters in Ivanhoe. Cooper’s weren’t much thicker. Austen’s were dense compared to those. Oh well.
That’s right up there with the high-school kid who complained that Shakespeare used too many cliches.
Huh. Well, each to their own, I suppose…?
Was the reviewer a man? I don’t think men get Jane Austen. I think they think of her as the romance writer for the 1800’s set.
Not only asshat-ery, but also as antidote to bad reviews. I mean, if Jane’s shallow with crap grammar, who *can’t* they pick on?
And as far as men and Jane Austen, it’s probably because her men aren’t as fleshed out. We only see them through the women (which makes sense, given that she was unmarried). Oddly, this is only something I consciously noticed while reading Gaskell’s ‘North and South’ and loving how much she’s showing me of the male lead (and I’m trying to figure out if it was because Gaskell was married and ‘allowed’ to know about men, or if it was a time period thing). I now return you to the actual thread…