Book Notes: Jane Austen by Carol Shields

[AN: all notes are taken verbatim from the book. I claim not rights to them]

Jane Austen by Carol Shields

Whenever 3 or 4 come together in Jane Austen’s name, there is bound to be a trivia quiz

The genuine arc of a human life…can perhaps be presented more authentically in fiction than in the genre of biography

Was it better to be alone and in some sense intact? Or better to be coupled—and compromised, denied freedom, but awarded the respect of society?

A writer, she maintains, does not need stimulation, but the opposite of stimulation. A writer needs regularity, the same book around her, the same walls. A writer needs self-ordered patterns of time, her own desk, and day after profitable day in order to do her best work.

The ability to sustain long works of fiction is at least partially dependent on establishing a delicate balance between solitude and interaction. Too much noise during the writing of a novel distracts from the cleanliness of its over-arching plan. Too little social interruption, on the other hand, distorts a writer’s sense of reality and allows feeling to “prey” of the conscious.

To write is to be self-conscious

What flows onto paper is more daring or more covert than a writer’s own voice, or more exaggerated or effaced.

She specifically asked that the squeaking hinge go unoiled so that she would have notice of interruptions.

The difference between a published and unpublished author is enormous, and every novelist in the world would agree: “It is a truth universally acknowledged” that published authors, even those whose books have not yet appeared before the pubic, are filled with a new and reckless confidence in their own powers.

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