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|False superiority, perhaps?
Written by Christiana
(3/30/2003 11:19 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Novel Reading, penned by J. Dillehay
] I remember being surprised the first time I read NA, when I came to the part in Ch. 5 where JA goes off on a tangent about novel reading. I was somewhat surprised because having read P&P and S&S previously, I didn't recall any time when JA spoke so directly to the reader in an off-the-subject manner. However, it started me to wondering. I suppose that in our day, although novels do not carry the stigma that they seem to have carried in JA's day, one would still feel more superior if someone caught them reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, than Interview with the Vampire.
I think you touch a bit on the answer here. There is a sort of social delusion--which, from what I can tell, persisted then as it does now--that says a person's intelligence dictates what they find amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable. By this logic, therefore, a person who disdains more "popular" or less complex forms of art and entertainment in favor of something more esoteric or academic is superior in mind to his or her fellow man. Looking down at novels was probably the way a Regency person asserted his or her sense of superiority.
JA, obviously, disabuses this notion. She recognizes the somewhat ludicrous situations of Gothic writing (as evidenced very clearly by this book), but I think she also understands the joy in putting one's suspension of disbelief in gear and enjoying the story.
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