Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Jane Austen's best story was the one she never wrote

Over at Today in Literature there's a deliciously entertaining piece about Jane Austen, who died on this day in 1817.

It seems dear Jane was constantly badgered by her friends and relatives to write a more romantic type of novel. She couldn't bring herself to do that, not even for her loved ones, but after her death, the following "Plan of a Novel according to Hints from Various Quarters" was found among her papers. She had outlined two characters, a perfect father and his equally flawless daughter, and then she dropped them into the soup:

Often carried away by the anti-hero, but rescued either by her Father or by the Hero--often reduced to support herself and her Father by her Talents and work for her Bread; continually cheated and defrauded of her hire, worn down to a Skeleton, and now and then starved to death.--At last, hunted out of civilized Society, denied the poor Shelter of the humblest Cottage, they are compelled to retreat into Kamschatka where the poor Father, quite worn down, finding his end approaching, throws himself on the Ground, and after 4 or 5 hours of tender advice and parental Admonition to his miserable Child, expires in a fine burst of Literary Enthusiasm, intermingled with Invectives against holders of Tithes.--Heroine inconsolable for some time--but afterwards crawls back towards her former Country--having at least 20 narrow escapes from falling into the hands of the Anti-hero -- and at last in the very nick of time, turning a corner to avoid him, runs into the arms of the Hero himself, who having just shaken off the scruples which fetter'd him before, was at the very moment setting off in pursuit of her.--The Tenderest and completest Eclaircissement takes place, and they are happily united.

Fellow romance writers, is that inspiring, or what? I think I'm going to go kill off a character and allow him to die "in a fine burst of Literary Enthusiasm."

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6 comments:

Douglas Cootey said...

From the article: "I will not say that your mulberry-trees are dead, but I am afraid they are not alive."

She had such a delicious wit. It has been some time since I've read any of her work. I may have to make amends. Thanks for sharing.

~Douglas
-=-
The Splintered Mind - Overcoming Neurological Disabilities With Lots Of Humor And Attitude

Susan Kaye said...

I can see dear Jane, bent over her little table, tongue planted firmly in her cheek, scratching out this outline.

I can't help but think a Bronte found this and took it to heart! (Though the expiring father tends to make me think of Thomas Hardy. Michael Henchard of "The Mayor of Casterbridge" dies in a similar fashion.)

Take care--Sue

Brenda Coulter said...

I can't help but think a Bronte found this and took it to heart!

Oh, good one! Thanks, Susan. ;-)

She had such a delicious wit.

You're so right, Douglas. Her letters are even more scrumptious than the novels because when writing to friends and family, she allowed herself to be silly and snarky.

Chris said...

Mmmmm ... Eclaircissement.

Brenda Coulter said...

Oooh, yeah--with a nice cafe latte.
;-)

Gina Burgess said...

Invectives against holders of tithes! Dear, dear Jane... I don't know if I'm inconsolable or not, about that. Today I could not spell pedistal, that has me even more worried. Sigh...

Brenda, I love this piece. Thanks for the link and the laugh. Today I needed it.