On the attractions of the ladies of Jane Austen:

We love Jane Austen through her heroines. Knowing so little about her, we worship her surrogates. And generally speaking, unless we are cranky scholars or celibate critics, we love and rank the novels according to our regard for the female principals. I can’t help finding my own response to the novels coloured by the degree to which I find the heroines attractive, although over the course of some 30 years of reading and rereading, I find my admiration shifting among the young ladies; unlike Frederick Wentworth, longtime lover of Persuasion’s leading lady Anne Elliot, I could be accused of inconstancy, but I like to think my tastes show an underlying consistency.

The author drifts primarily between Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse, although he also takes in the other leading ladies as well.

I’m not altogether sure that I buy the premise, but I suppose that in the end it is a pleasant and harmless little parlour game.   (Would it be reasonable to suppose that female readers who are not “cranky scholars or celibate critics” rank the novels in terms of their admiration of the heroines and the extent to which they would like to identify themselves with one or the other?)

On the other hand, I fully approve of the author’s sentiments regarding the effort to turn Austen into what she most certainly is not:

There have been some recent attempts to enlist Jane Austen into the Romantic movement, despite the famous disapprobation of Charlotte Brontë. But Austen would have been appalled by William Blake’s avowal that “those who control their passions do so because their passions are weak enough to be controlled”.

Lydia Bennet and Maria Bertram are the pathetic examples of those who let their passion overrule their reason. Given the choice between rationality and emotion, Austen chooses both. And yet, the most important quality that all the Austen protagonists share is a capacity for passion and a commitment to the concept of romantic love. Personally, I’m inclined to be most passionate about those, like Elizabeth and Emma, who are not always perfectly rational and measured, whose passion sometimes gets the better of their reason.

Yup.  Aaaaaaand, since it’s Friday, how about the Semaphore Version of Wuthering Heights?

(starts at 1:05)