Posted by Kate on March 24, 1998 at 16:01:44:
In response to Dissappointed!, written by Cyndie on March 24, 1998 at 15:14:45
] I have finshed Claire Tomalin's book (before discovering this site) and I have to say that I was excessively dissappointed with it. It is so full of her own hypotheses, speculations, and pschoanalysis that the facts become blurred in the mix. I found the book quite inferior to other Austen biographies; notably Park Honan's and Dierdre LeFaye's. I felt throughout that Ms. Tomalin could not possibly have read Jane Austen's letters thoroughly (though I know she must have), or she would never have speculated so freely on questions that, in my opinion, are answered quite clearly in the letters. Ms Tomlin, in my opinion, also displays a lack of knowledge considering the fine lines of distinction between classes that motivated Jane Austen in so many of her actions and were instrumental in forming her opinions and personality. The best of Ms. Tomlin's story occurs at the end...where she confesses that no one will ever know the true story of Jane Austen...a fact that she studiously ignores throughout the book.
] I expect replies from people who disagree with my opinion, but I strongly suggest to readers who may be new to Austen biographies that they NOT start with Claire Tomlins inferior account. I implore you to start with "Jane Austen's Letters" compiled and edited by LeFaye. The new edition came out in Oxford Paperback in '97 (ISBN 0-19-283297-2) and is excellent! Let Jane Austen herself tell you her OWN story, and THEN read the biographies.
Hi Cyndie and welcome.
You may have noticed that we are in the middle of the read of Tomalin's biography. So though your comments are interesting, they're kind of not well timed.
We'd really like you to join in the discussion, so if you would like to pick up the book from where we are and make contributions in relation to the chapters we're reading at the moment, that would be great. (including criticisms of course.)
However, for the sake of those of us who are only half way through reading it, could you refrain from making general comments based on the whole book? It would be great if we could discuss the book as we read it, rather than have our opinions formed on the basis of what other people, who have read the whole thing, think.
Your comment about the letters is very interesting, and we will certainly, at some point in the future, do a group read of the letters here. For those of us who are relatively new to the fairly arcane world of the study of JA's life, however, Tomalin is providing a provoking and occasionally controversial way in...and it's helping us get to know one person's perspectives. In time, no doubt, we will learn about others.
I hope you will take the time to familiarise yourself with Pemberley, and its regulars as you participate in our conversations.
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