You could not shock her more than she shocks me,
Beside her, Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me most uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe the amorous effects of 'brass',
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
The economic basis of society.
W.H. Auden about Jane Austen in his 1937 poem “
Letter to Lord Byron”
“One doesn't read Jane Austen; one re-reads Jane Austen."
William F. Buckley, Jr
"My favorite writer is Jane Austen, and I've read all her books so many times I've lost count ... I imagined being a famous writer would be like being like Jane Austen. Being able to sit at home at the parsonage and your books would be very famous and occasionally you would correspond with the Prince of Wales's secretary."
J. K. Rowling, 2003
"There are some writers who wrote too much. There are others who wrote enough. There are yet others who wrote nothing like enough to satisfy their admirers, and Jane Austen is certainly one of these. There would be more genuine rejoicing at the discovery of a complete new novel by Jane Austen than any other literary discovery, short of a new major play by Shakespeare, that one can imagine.”
Margaret Drabble, in her introduction to
"Lady Susan; The Watsons; Sanditon," 1974
Jane lies in Winchester—blessed be her shade!
Praise the Lord for making her, and her for all she made!
And while the stones of Winchester, or Milsom Street, remain,
Glory, love and honor unto England's Jane.
Rudyard Kipling, 1924
"There have been several revolutions of taste during the last century and a quarter of English literature, and through them all perhaps only two reputations have never been affected by the shifts of fashion: Shakespeare's and Jane Austen's... She has compelled the amazed admiration of writers of the most diverse kinds."
Edmund Wilson, 1944
"Also read again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen's very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvement and feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going, but the exquisite touch which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of the description and the sentiment is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!"
Sir Walter Scott, 1826
"(Jane Austen's novels) appear to be compact of abject truth. Their events are excruciatingly unimportant; and yet, with Robinson Crusoe, they will probably outlast all Fielding, Scott, George Elliot, Thackeray, and Dickens. The art is so consummate that the secret is hidden; peer at them as hard as one may; shake them; take them apart; one cannot see how it is done."
Thornton Wilder, 1938
"The key to Jane Austen's fortune with posterity has been in part the extraordinary grace of her facility... as if she sometimes over her work basket fell... into woolgathering, and her dropped stitches... were afterwards picked up as... little master-strokes of imagination."
Henry James, 1905
"...Jane Austen, of course, wise in her neatness, trim in her sedateness; she never fails, but there are few or none like her."
Edith Wharton, 1925
"To believe (Jane Austen) limited in range because she was harmonious in method is as sensible as to imagine that when the Atlantic Ocean is as smooth as a mill-pond, it shrinks to the size of a mill-pond... Look through the lattice-work of her neat sentences, joined together with the bright nails of craftsmanship, painted with the gay varnish of wit, and you will see women haggard with desire or triumphant with love."
Rebecca West, 1928
"I am inclined to say in desperation, read it yourself and kick out every sentence that isn't as Jane Austen would have written it in prose. Which is, I admit, impossible. But when you do get a limpid line in perfectly straight normal order, isn't it worth any other ten?"
Ezra Pound, in a letter to Laurence Binyon, 1938