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|GR: Biographical Notice
Written by Cheryl
(3/31/2003 10:27 p.m.)
Does most everyone's copy of Northanger Abbey include this "Biographical Notice of the Author"? As you know, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published posthumuously and this notice written by Henry Austen appeared as a forward.
It is a very touching tribute, obviously written by someone who loved her well, and as these thing so often do, extolled Jane's virtues and neglected any faults. I was very moved by her reported last words:
"Her last voluntary speech conveyed thanks to her medical attendant; and to the final question asked of her, purporting to know her wants, she replied, 'I want nothing but death.' She expired shortly after ... in the arms of her sister."
Henry also offers his predictions of Jane's legacy and longevity:
"The works of our authoress, however, may live as long as those which have burst on the world with more eclat." ... "From this place [Chawton] she sent into the world those novels, which by many have been placed on the same shelf as the works of a D'Arblay and an Edgeworth."
Henry also lists her "accomplishments" detailing her stature, carriage and deportment, expression and complexion, her skill at drawing, music and dancing. I wondered what Caroline Bingley would have made of this list. If she would have thought Jane a truly accomplished woman. I don't think so. I think Jane knew she would fall short in Caroline's opinion. ;-)
This bit I found fascinating:
"Her own works, probably, were never heard to so much advantage as from her own mouth; for she partook largely in all the best gifts of the comic muse."
Can you imagine the treat of listening to Jane read her books out loud? What fun that would have been!
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