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Today's Austen quote comes from Chapter 14 of Northanger Abbey, and a conversation between Catherine Morland and Eleanor Tilney. Catherine opines that she cannot be interested in reading books of history - its male-centric perspective and the knowledge that the writers sometimes made things up being her primary objections.

“That is, I can read poetry and plays, and things of that sort, and do not dislike travels. But history, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. Can you?”

“Yes, I am fond of history.”

“I wish I were too. I read it a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all — it is very tiresome: and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention. The speeches that are put into the heroes’ mouths, their thoughts and designs — the chief of all this must be invention, and invention is what delights me in other books.”

“Historians, you think,” said Miss Tilney, “are not happy in their flights of fancy. They display imagination without raising interest. I am fond of history — and am very well contented to take the false with the true. In the principal facts they have sources of intelligence in former histories and records, which may be as much depended on, I conclude, as anything that does not actually pass under one’s own observation; and as for the little embellishments you speak of, they are embellishments, and I like them as such. If a speech be well drawn up, I read it with pleasure, by whomsoever it may be made — and probably with much greater, if the production of Mr. Hume or Mr. Robertson, than if the genuine words of Caractacus, Agricola, or Alfred the Great.”

You can read more about this chapter - and the wonderful discussions on reading that it contains - in this prior blog post of mine.

I love Austen's protofeminism, so clearly on display in this novel - and I think she would have gotten a kick out the following poem by Eloise Greenfield, which is about a woman and her important role in history.

Harriet Tubman
by Eloise Greenfield

Harriet Tubman didn't take no stuff
Wasn't scared of nothing neither
Didn't come in this world to be no slave
And wasn't going to stay one either

"Farewell!" she sang to her friends one night
She was mighty sad to leave 'em
But she ran away that dark, hot night
Ran looking for her freedom

Read the rest here

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 11th, 2012 09:14 am (UTC)
tanita says:
First of all, this is Second City so I needn't say that it is HIGHLY INAPPROPRIATE. So, pardon me in advance for sticking this at the end of a semi-serious poem. But, it's also Second City, so it's ridiculously funny. So, there's that.

Just saying Harriet Tubman (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5tAvZ_6t_g) brought it to mind again. And, yeah. She didn't take no stuff.
Apr. 14th, 2012 03:23 am (UTC)
Re: tanita says:
AHAHA! That video was priceless! And the guy who plays the slave owner is the same guy who does the Sassy Gay Friend videos - I love that guy!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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