Rotten Reviews: Jane Austen

“I am at a loss to understand why people hold Miss Austen’s novels at so high a rate, which seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in the wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world. Never was life so pinched and narrow. The one problem in the mind of the writer…is marriageableness…. Suicide is more respectable.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journal, 1961

“Mama says that she was then the prettiest, silliest, most affected, husband-hunting butterfly she ever remembers.”

Mary Russell Mitford, letter to Sir William Etford, 1815

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

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