Jane Austen: Poet

  • George Whalley


I must confess to a little uneasiness. Except for a long-standing, slow-burning admiration for Jane Austen’s writing, for ‘the achieve of, the mastery of the thing’, I have nothing much to guide me. I have not even written a book on Jane Austen; so who can say where I stand in the critical spectrum, between the ultra-violet Janeites and the infra-red Austenists? There is, I know, a vast ocean of scholarship and criticism, puff-cheeked and sea-monster-haunted, in which Jane’s work swims; but I have not studied the Sailing Directions that could have warned me of the sly currents and deceptive landfalls, and have neglected the Notices to Mariners with their record of the latest wrecks, the unlighted lights, the demolished seamarks, the unswept mine-fields. I feel like one who has been bidden to dine in the Captain’s Room at Lloyd’s, having no gold ring in the ear. But I recall that Jane had two naval brothers, that she admired both of them very much, and that both became admirals even though they had had less first-hand acquaintance with Pacific Island cannibals than Fanny Burney’s midshipman brother had; and pray therefore for the impassivity of Joshua Slocum who — after his chronometer had gone over the side and his goat had eaten his charts — completed his voyage around the world alone, with no navigational aids beyond an alarm clock and a map torn from a school atlas.


Indelible Mark Young Lady Alarm Clock Pure Action Musical State 
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Copyright information

© Barbara Hardy 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Whalley

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