|Title page of Emma, published |
200 years ago this month
(though it says 1816, hmm)
I must make it clear my mother didn't blame my father for his attitudes, she accepted it was part of his upbringing and couldn’t be changed. And I suppose I must extend the same charity to my grandmother, who grew up part of the landed gentry; my mother grew up in the north of Sweden, the daughter of an engine driver. I also need to add something about the state of the sofa. This was due to my parents spending far more than they could afford on my expensive schooling. For better or worse that’s made me what I am, so it's not my place to complain about the stuffing.
I'll finish on a puzzle. It occurs to me to ask whether and how Jane Austen and her contemporaries talked about snobbery, since according to my understanding, the word was not yet in use. Did they have another word for it? I don't think they did. I can't help wondering if there's something anachronistic going on when we talk of Jane Austen and snobbery. It's something I should like to explore, if only I knew where to begin. I hope to have an answer by the first Tuesday of February.
Note : The Trilling essay is “Emma and the legend of Jane Austen” in Beyond Culture, 1965. The Emma quotation is from ch 25.