Thursday, January 14, 2021

"Whatever you say always comes to pass": Emma as novelist

In Jane Austen's "Emma", Mr. Woodhouse doesn't like change, so he objects to marriages and especially to Emma's desire to bring couples like Mr. Weston and Miss Taylor together: "I wish you would not make matches and foretell things, for whatever you say always comes to pass." From Mr. Woodhouse's perspective, then, Emma's words create stories – and Emma herself enjoys her story-making "as the greatest amusement in the world!" This amusement comes from making unexpected things happen: "Every body said that Mr. Weston would never marry again." Emma thus sees herself as a novelist coming up with plot twists – until, of course, her attempt to "match" Mr. Elton and Harriet Smith backfires.  (Andrew Shields, #111words, 14 January 2021)

[First edition of Emma.]

The first editions will go up for auction at Sotheby's next month

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