A credit to your sex

Smart Bitch regular runswithscissors, in the comments to my “It’s not what you’re like, it’s what you like” post, mentioned a George Eliot essay entitled “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists.” And as I read Eliot’s barbed descriptions of the trashy novels of yore, I realized plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. (Yeah, I’m throwing in the French just to class up the joint, since it’s Friday and all, and Sarah and I are nothing if not a pair of classy-ass bitches. Yo.)

My favorite passage is one that runswithscissors already posted in the comments, but really, it deserves repeating:

The heroine is usually an heiress, probably a peeress in her own right, with perhaps a vicious baronet, an amiable duke, and an irresistible younger son of a marquis as lovers in the foreground, a clergyman and a poet sighing for her in the middle distance, and a crowd of undefined adorers dimly indicated beyond. Her eyes and her wit are both dazzling; her nose and her morals are alike free from any tendency to irregularity; she has a superb contralto and a superb intellect; she is perfectly well-dressed and perfectly religious; she dances like a sylph, and reads the Bible in the original tongues. Or it may be that the heroine is not an heiress—that rank and wealth are the only things in which she is deficient; but she infallibly gets into high society, she has the triumph of refusing many matches and securing the best, and she wears some family jewels or other as a sort of crown of righteousness at the end. Rakish men either bite their lips in impotent confusion at her repartees, or are touched to penitence by her reproofs, which, on appropriate occasions, rise to a lofty strain of rhetoric; indeed, there is a general propensity in her to make speeches, and to rhapsodize at some length when she retires to her bedroom. In her recorded conversations she is amazingly eloquent, and in her unrecorded conversations, amazingly witty. She is under stood to have a depth of insight that looks through and through the shallow theories of philosophers, and her superior instincts are a sort of dial by which men have only to set their clocks and watches, and all will go well.

Not since Mark Twain’s smackdown of James Fenimore Cooper’s Indians have I read such a hilariously scathing take on fiction.

Some of the reasons Eliot gives for the preponderance of awful fiction will also sound terribly familiar; to wit:

In the majority of women’s books you see that kind of facility which springs from the absence of any high standard; that fertility in imbecile combination or feeble imitation which a little self-criticism would check and reduce to barrenness; just as with a total want of musical ear people will sing out of tune, while a degree more melodic sensibility would suffice to render them silent.


But as runswithscissors points out, the main thrust of Eliot’s argument isn’t that there’s a great deal of bad literature out there (which is a truth so self-evident, I’m not sure it’s worth pointing out to any degree), but that the silly novels by lady novelists make it much harder for people to take women seriously.

If, as the world has long agreed, a very great amount of instruction will not make a wise man, still less will a very mediocre amount of instruction make a wise woman. And the most mischievous form of feminine silliness is the literary form, because it tends to confirm the popular prejudice against the more solid education of woman. When men see girls wasting their time in consultations about bonnets and ball dresses, and in giggling or sentimental love-confidences, or middle-aged women mismanaging their children, and solacing themselves with acrid gossip, they can hardly help saying, “For Heaven’s sake, let girls be better educated; let them have some better objects of thought—some more solid occupations.” But after a few hours’ conversation with an oracular literary woman, or a few hours’ reading of her books, they are likely enough to say, “After all, when a woman gets some knowledge, see what use she makes of it! (…) No—the average nature of women is too shallow and feeble a soil to bear much tillage; it is only fit for the very lightest crops.”

It is true that the men who come to such a decision on such very superficial and imperfect observation may not be among the wisest in the world; but we have not now to contest their opinion—we are only pointing out how it is unconsciously encouraged by many women who have volunteered themselves as representatives of the feminine intellect.

Eliot has a point, and this attitude—using individuals as stand-ins for the whole, instead of judging individuals on their own merits—is something people have used over and over again to affirm their prejudices. What Eliot doesn’t seem to acknowledge is that it stings just as badly when somebody uses you as a positive stand-in for your particular group, as in “she’s such a credit to her sex.” It’s rank condescending bullshit disguised to look like an accolade. For instance, I’ve been told in not so many words that I’m a credit to my race, and I find it simultaneously hilarious and offensive. Look, if I do something brilliant, or conversely, if I do something completely awful, shouldn’t any credit or infamy belong to myself? I don’t see how or what my sex, my race or any other incidental detail about my particular demographic has anything to do with it. Might as well say I’m a credit to people who wear size 5 shoes, or a credit to people everywhere who can roll their tongues.

But to get back to that damn mob of scribbling women and how they’re ruining it for all the smarteywomens out there: I’m still not convinced that reading, writing and enjoying silly novels is an accurate indicator of intelligence. The market is glutted with silly romance novels, but it’s more an indicator of how capitalism works than the IQ of the average romance reader. Making that sort of assumption engages in the same sort of obnoxious discourse that allows cheap provocateurs like Vox Day to make his pronouncements about why women shouldn’t be allowed to vote, for example. A bad book is a bad book, and at most you can say that the author is exceptionally bad at her craft, and that her publishing house needs a healthy infusion from a bottle labeled Standards, Dear God Any Standards, Please. Making judgments about the state of intellectual quality for a big, diverse group of people based solely on something like what we read is a silly idea, mmkay? Even sillier than the romance novels we love read, and we know many of them are pretty damn silly.


Random Musings

Comments are Closed

  1. MarshAngel says:

    Using one’s choice of reading material as an indicator of intelligence is just ridiculous. By that standard it would be absolutely fair to say all America is idiotic for their choice in films. A book, in many ways, is no different from a film, a game, or any another form of entertainment many of which are repetitive, derivative, and just plain silly. But their bad points don’t make them any less entertaining. Intelligent people regularly enjoy horror and action movies which are as formulaic as any romance novel. I don’t think romance novel readers or writers are attempting to gain the same thing they might from Dostoyevsky.

    Every once in a while a novel rises above the genre and aspires to something greater but most are written purely to entertain and that is where they are far more successful than many literary works considered great by a select few. And if by subscribing to a formula and writing to entertain a romance novelist diminishes her IQ and her entire sex, then the same can be said of many screenwriters and filmmakers.

  2. I think I still have some concerns about the way she dismisses all these novels as ‘silly novels’. Just because they’re written in a style she dislikes, and contain unrealistic characters, doesn’t automatically make them silly. They could still have something interesting to say.

  3. JulieT says:

    Ya know, maybe it’s because I’m all biased about reading and writing being a good thing (have me flogged), I tend to think that people who READ for entertainment are generally smarter than people who STARE VACANTLY AT A BOX. No matter what they’re reading. It’s still using their brain, now, isn’t it?

    And I really wonder how many people out there reading romances are using them to sort of cleanse the palatte, so to speak, after reading other stuff – like college text books. Or other types of non-fiction. I know I do.

  4. Susan says:

    I think pretinous people have a intense need to feel superior. I am drinking wine made from blah blah blah.

    I think it is a basic shallowness that doesn’t allow them to be accepting and treat everyone as equels. It is sad that this is encouraged by their peers.

    So if all you read is literary masterpieces I would guess that person is very dull. You need to have some balance in your life.

  5. Arethusa says:

    It is comments such as “if all you read is literary masterpieces I would guess that person is very dull” and its ilk that usually make me avoid such discussions. If lit fic snobs cannot be sensible in deeming all romance readers as flibbertigibets who are likely sex-starved and/or housewives (the horror!), why are romance readers comfortable in proclaiming their detractors dull, human embodiments of boredom who would send one in a coma with a deadened “When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before.”

    Ok I can see why we’d be comfortable saying it, but as someone whose feet is firmly planted in both groups it bruises me terribly.

    Murkami or Sorrentino can be as entertaining as Nora Roberts or *Shannon Mckenna. Each is enjoyable in different ways to people with different sensibilities. Because someone may only, with few exceptions, read one or the other, does not make one a corpse and the other a dolt.

    I agree that while reading tastes create impressions, it is not enough to make any kind of judgement on an entire person’s or group’s character.

    *How about that “Hot Night”? I’m getting my copy tomorrow and I’m bouncing the walls in anticipation. You Smart Bitches wouldn’t be planning to review it one sweet day? I don’t think you’ve ever reviewed a McKenna before.

  6. Sarah F. says:

    The main problem I have with Eliot’s rendition of silly novels contemporary to her is that the biggest sensation in literature in the 1860s (when Eliot did most of her publishing) was, well, sensation novels.  Read about two of the biggest: Lady Audley’s Secret and East Lynne.  Neither of these have the types of heroines Eliot discusses.  They have murderers and bigamists (yes, the female characters), but not brilliant social butterflies like Eliot describes.

    You DO find women like that in the sensation novels written by…you guessed it—MEN: The Woman in WhiteDracula, too, can be named a sensation novel, at a stretch, and Lucy and Mina are very much like that.

    So I wonder how much of Eliot’s sour grapes are because she was a non-reader of these novels, as much as most of the sour grapes about romances come from non-readers today.

    Then again, I’m by NO means a Victorian scholar.  I’m just fascinated with popular fiction of any century, and these are the novels that jumped out at me from the Victorian era in my graduate school days.  I do not know anything about other forms of popular literature—maybe the female characters Eliot discusses come from those novels about which I know nothing.

    (I hope the links work!)

  7. Miri says:

    Life is hard.
    It’s ugly at times, and worrying.

    It’s well, not glamorous, novels are. Novels take us to a place where the heroines troubles are solved in 300+ pages or less. It’s a nice place to be for a short time.
    I chalange anyone to deny someone in need of escape the opportunity to do so.
    I donate my used romance novels to my local hospice.
    I think silly is just what some of us need.

  8. Nathalie says:

    Candy can roll her tongue?!

    I wanna do that!

  9. mel says:

    About the ad (that innocent little ad that started all this).  I think it’s been a fascinating discussion to follow, but it’s important to keep in mind that the POINT of the ad wasn’t to say romance readers are dumb.  The point was to “sell the product.”  In other words, to effectively promote the Greater Washington Initiative. 

    The creatives that came up with the ad campaign certainly didn’t do it in order to put down romance readers specifically.  It was just the concept they chose in hopes of making a successful ad.  And if we are REALLY honest about that ad campaign itself (all unpleasant assumptions aside)—isn’t a romance novel probably the best way to get your point across?  I’m not defending it.  I just think it makes sense from the advertisers’ perspective.  They were just doing a job.

    What we’re actually pissed about is that the ad is perpetuating a myth we don’t fancy—that being, romance is poor quality therefore anyone who reads it must not be the brightest bulb on the strand.  But we have admitted that there is a whole fleet-load of poorly written romance out there.  In fact, having read all the comments agreeing to this, I’d be really curious to know the actual ratio of how much crap there is to how much decent/good stuff.  (Because, you know, opinion-based statistics are oh-so valid.) 

    The thing is that we all seem to agree that there IS alot of crap out there.  And while we seem to be defending our right to read silly or over-the-top novels now and then—I don’t really hear any of us defending our right to read crap.  In fact, what I hear more is that we would like to see better publishing standards in the genre.

    So. . .my point is just that—I don’t think we should be pissed at the advertisers or the Greater Washington Initiative.  There IS a bunch of dumb romance.  Which, OF COURSE, doesn’t make someone who reads it dumb anymore than it makes someone who reads Plato smart.  (In fact, you could look at the ad a totally different way and interpret it to mean that the Greater Washington area is full of pretentious, wanna-be philosophers who are obviously posing because anyone with a half-way decent education was forced to read Plato at a much younger age than that.)  They were just taking advantage of a perception that already exists.

    If we want to get fired up at anyone—it should be the publishers.  I know that it’s so hard to meet demand with quality at a fast pace, woe, woe etc. 

    It may be hard—but it’s hardly impossible. 

    How can we expect that “outdated” myth to change when the publishers are still giving it so much fodder?

  10. Angel says:

    Life is hard.
    It’s ugly at times, and worrying.

    It’s well, not glamorous, novels are. Novels take us to a place where the heroines troubles are solved in 300+ pages or less. It’s a nice place to be for a short time.
    I chalange anyone to deny someone in need of escape the opportunity to do so.
    I donate my used romance novels to my local hospice.
    I think silly is just what some of us need.

    Well said. I totally agree with you Miri.

    What you said also reminds me of a quote from a fantastic “literary” novel about people who make “silly” stories, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay:

    Having lost his mother, father, brother, and grandfather, the friends and foes of his youth, his beloved teacher Bernard Kornblum, his city, his history—his home—the usual charge leveled against comic books, that they offered merely an easy escape from reality, seemed to Joe actually to be a powerful argument on their behalf … It was a mark of how fucked-up and broken was the world—the reality—that had swallowed his home and his family that such a feat of escape, by no means easy to pull off, should remain so universally despised.

    Someone needs to write a rebuttal, “In Praise of Silly Fiction,” so I can steal apt quotes from it, too! 😉

    On that note, I’m off to rewatch the newest Ugly Betty episode for the third time!  Viva la silly.

  11. eggs says:

    The funniest thing about this is that Eliot must have read a metric shitload of these things to be able to nail the genre so accurately.  We’ve all read articles belittling romance that show the author has not, in fact, read widely in the genre.  This is obviously not the case with Eliot, no uninformed flailing for her.  I wonder where she hid them all when the smart people came over to visit?

  12. DS says:

    I’m shocked I’ve never read this before although the Victorian period was never my favorite. 

    This site has become my new fave.

  13. dl says:

    Narrow mindedness is so tiring and boorish.  Does this person only read historical romance?  There are many other choices available…maybe Eliot should get a brain and go find something they actually enjoy reading.

    Instead of articles maligning the intelligence of romance readers, has anyone actually done an IQ study of readers by genre?  That might actually be interesting.

  14. snarkhunter says:

    eggs said part of what I was going to say—Eliot clearly knew the genre like whoa in order to talk about it so accurately.

    Sarah F. said So I wonder how much of Eliot’s sour grapes are because she was a non-reader of these novels, as much as most of the sour grapes about romances come from non-readers today.

    I think eggs’s comment answers that, but to expand on Eliot’s “sour grapes,” I’ll point out that “Silly Novels” was written in 1856—before Eliot began her own career in fiction. She was at the time writing essays for and helping to edit The Westminster Review, and her fictional career didn’t begin until shortly after the publication of this essay.

    Moreover, having read some of the novels to which Eliot is referring, I think comparing them to a well-written sensation novel such as Lady Audley’s Secret or any of Collins’s books is like comparing…I don’t know, a good Jenny Crusie novel to something entitled Savage Lust, Secret Baby. The literature of the 1830s and 1840s was rife with idiotic novels by dilletante “lady novelists,” and I think that’s Eliot’s attack, rather than on the genre of “romantic” novels (in the broader sense) as a whole.

    (For the record, I don’t entirely agree with Eliot’s attack, as I think there can be merit in some of the explorations conducted by these “lady novelists,” but I do think her argument has some merit.)

    And I’ll step down off of my little pedantic soap box now. Can you tell that I *am* a scholar of Victorian lit? *sheepish smile*

  15. Molly says:

    *tunes up*

    *clears throat*

    The Romance and Sci-Fi fen should be friends,
    Oh, the Romance and Sci-Fi fen should be friends.
    One gets lost in space, the other in a lover’s embrace,
    But there’s no reason why they can’t be friends.

    Fringe readers should stick together,
    Fringe readers should all be buds.
    Romance pick up a Nebula winner,
    Sci Fi fen embrace the seducing studs.

    The romance and Sci-fi fen should be friends,
    Oh, the romance and sci-fi fen should be friends.
    One cover bears a dragon’s tail, the other a bare-chested male,
    But there’s no reason why they can’t be friends.

    Fringe readers should stick together,
    Fringe readers should be buds.
    Romance pick up a Nebula winner,
    Sci Fi fen embrace the seducing studs.

    The Romance and Sci-Fi fen should be friends. . .
    Oh, the Romance and the Sci-Fi fen should be friends.
    One puts up with purple prose, the other—that also goes,
    So there’s no reason why they can’t be friends.

    I don’t say my genre’s better than any else,
    But I’ll be damned if it ain’t just as good!
    Fringe readers should stick together,
    Fringe readers should all be buds.
    Romance pick up a Nebula winner,
    Sci Fi fen embrace the seducing studs.

  16. Robin says:

    The literature of the 1830s and 1840s was rife with idiotic novels by dilletante “lady novelists,” and I think that’s Eliot’s attack, rather than on the genre of “romantic” novels (in the broader sense) as a whole.

    I agree; I didn’t feel that she was attacking women novelists or even romantic fiction, but rather that badly composed fiction written by women who took no time to understand the craft of writing or to portray the world about which they wrote with any integrity.  Her example about the heroine who regularly spouts Latin at picnics was definitely worth a hoot, as she later contrasts that with the heroine who does not have to do such a ridiculous thing to communicate her intelligence to the reader.  The passage that really caught my eye was this one:

    The standing apology for women who become writers without any special qualification is, that society shuts them out from other spheres of occupation. Society is a very culpable entity, and has to answer for the manufacture of many unwholesome commodities, from bad pickles to bad poetry. But society, like “matter,” and Her Majesty’s Government, and other lofty abstractions, has its share of excessive blame as well as excessive praise. Where there is one woman who writes from necessity, we believe there are three women who write from vanity; and, besides, there is something so antiseptic in the mere healthy fact of working for one’s bread, that the most trashy and rotten kind of feminine literature is not likely to have been produced under such circumstances. “In all labour there is profit;” but ladies’ silly novels, we imagine, are less the result of labour than of busy idleness.

    It’s an interesting argument, really.  On the one hand, Eliot is deriding one sort of elitism, but she resorts to another form in order to do so.

  17. Gez says:

    Was anyone else reminded of Susan from the Discworld series, speaking in CAPS and freaking everyone else out, by this paragraph? Or was it just me?

    Of an earthly paleness, but calm with the still, iron-bound calmness of death – the only calm one there, – Katherine stood; and her words smote on the ear in tones whose appallingly slow and separate intonation rung on the heart like the chill, isolated tolling of some fatal knell.

  18. Suisan says:

    Love the song, Molly. 😉

  19. Alecto says:

    Eliot clearly knew the genre like whoa in order to talk about it so accurately.

    But then again, going back to the movies comparison, how many awful chick flicks have you seen? I hate the genre, yet I’ve still seen so many (esp. when I was younger and didn’t know any better) that I feel I could do a pretty good critique of them.*

    Also, I get the feeling that her frustration stems from the same place as a lot of feminists’, even today: what is “empowering” for a single woman (like publishing silly novels) can be detrimental to women as a whole (perpetuating silly-women stereotypes). And since Eliot had to resort to a male nom de plume to get her own non-silly-novel work taken seriously, she definitely experienced the immediate effects of these stereotypes. If I were Eliot, I’d find it hard not to take it personally!

    *I don’t want to set off a war over the relative merits of different chick flicks, ‘cause there are some decent ones (though whether that means that the genre is not entirely useless or that they are erroneously considered part of it I don’t know). So I’m using the definition of “chick flick” to be those movies that are the big-screen equivalent of Eliot’s “silly novels”—you know, the ones that hit every male and female stereotype in the book and set back feminism like, fifty years?

  20. snarkhunter says:

    And since Eliot had to resort to a male nom de plume to get her own non-silly-novel work taken seriously, she definitely experienced the immediate effects of these stereotypes.

    I think you’re right, Alecto, that part of Eliot’s frustration stems from a sense of injustice that women who do write “silly” novels make it harder for serious novelists to be, well, serious.

    However—and I’m not an Eliot scholar, so this is pure speculation on my part—given the fact that a number of women were successfully publishing non-silly novels and poetry under their real names (Elizabeth Gaskell, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, and even Charlotte Bronte (after she dropped the “Currer Bell” thing)), I wonder how much of Eliot’s choice to go with a male nom de plume wasn’t as much connected to her personal life and her non-fiction writing as to a fear that her novels would be undervalued.

    Her personal life was, of course, an absolute scandal, as she lived with a married man, and as such the books of “Marian Evans” or “Marian Lewes” would’ve been judged in part by their author’s “sins.” And I’m positive that her non-fiction writing was the real challenge—women could write fiction, and could, to a certain extent, write poetry, but non-fiction? Serious, educated non-fiction? Totally a male realm.

  21. Kalen says:

    Where oh where is the ode to the bluestocking amongst all that scathing commentary? I don’t see crazy praise being heaped upon those women who WHERE extremely well educated.

  22. Kalen says:

    WERE not WHERE. Need more caffine.

  23. Marianne McA says:

    Mel, I thought the ad looked silly because men don’t read that sort of romance. It’s fun to try and work out what other book they could have used to make their point. My own vote would go to Harry Potter – I hugely enjoy Rowling, but if the advertisers are looking for that instantaneous – adults who read that are morons – reaction, Rowling is the author to provoke it.
    My guess is that anything else – bad sci-fi, bad fantasy, bad action adventure, runs the risk of looking more interesting [to your male commuter]than Plato. That’s also true of the sort of romance that a man might read. I’ve never read it, so I’m making all sorts of assumptions, but our local bookshop has a shelf of what I imagine are erotic romance for men. Black covers, featuring scantily clad females, penned by Anonymous.  If the advertisers were really making the argument they were pretending to be making, the man reading romance would have been pictured reading something like that. You have to wonder if the advert would still have worked if the man had been reading a male-targetted romance, and whether women romance readers would then have found it as objectionable.

  24. Wry Hag says:

    I know I’m pretty much off-topic here, but as soon as someone mentions Mark Twain, I’m in hippie pad, black light, hookah heaven.  If you think “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses” is hilarious—and it is—you should read “The Awful German Language” (it helps to have studied German to appreciate this gem).  Never has pissing one’s pants been such a joy!

    Oh, I could happily go on and on….

  25. Wry Hag says:

    Back to topic.  And to an old rant.

    “The market is glutted with silly romance novels, but it’s more an indicator of how capitalism works than the IQ of the average romance reader.”

    Sad to say, how capitalism works vis-a-vis the average reader is an indicator of the IQ of the average reader—of romance or anything else.  (Okay, maybe not IQ, necessarily, but certainly level of taste, literary standards, imaginative vision, desire to be intellectually and emotionally challenged, etc.)  It’s people’s preferences that drive the money-making machine. 

    The bottom line is a simple one:  If people didn’t buy crap, crap wouldn’t be published.

  26. J-me says:

    Sorry, I haven’t read all the responses (I will, I promise) but I feel that a statement is just brewing on the tip of my tongue.  Something like 60% of the world population is barely above a functioning level of IQ.  This is not a bad thing.  But when you think about it, these people (and those of use who manage a few points above) are looking for entertainment, not great literature or an Oprah book.  We want a fantasy to excape into.  Men have Tom Clancy and Luis Lamour.  Women have Nora Roberts (a fine a prolific authur I’ve just started reading) and Katie MacAlister.  Not deep thinking that but entertainment that can be put down when it’s time to go back to work. These are fantasies and anyone who looks at popular fiction as a accurate portrayal of the times is foolish – that’s why it’s called fiction.  Does anyone rally believe that Jane Austen’s characters could really have existed in the time period.  No.  But they are great fiction.  Austen is a peerage of Eliot (SNOBBBBBBBBB) and what Eliot describes is Pride and Prejudice, the best selling work of fiction to date (has Harry Potter beat it yet?).  Think someone might be a wee bit jealous and snarkie that her books didn’t sell as well?  I’ve read Eliot and while they are not bad, if it wasn’t for the novelty of a women writing under a male psuedonym, I’m not sure she would have the place in history and high school literature that she currently claims. 

    I will also point out that places like Wal-mart and Target are many American town’s only claim to a book store and have larger sections dedicated to serial romance novels and popular fiction authurs than anything else.  Quite often the only choice for a none fiction title is the Bible or a true crime novel.  I’d much rather read a Nicholas Sparks book (heavens help me) than Small Murder, Small Town.

  27. runswithscissors says:

    I’m blushing now. 

    Thank you Candy, for bringing ‘Silly Novels’ to the forefront – rereading it reminded me what a gem it is.  Your comments expressed much of what I was thinking of when I posted it – that women writers are too often defined by their sex (in the same way that non-white writers are defined by their race) and lumped together.  I’m absolutely with Eliot when she criticises the badly researched, poorly plotted novels – lord knows, I’ve thrown enough historical romances at the wall because the author seems to have done her research up her own ass … But what did strike me as ironic was that Eliot, who wrote again and again about the way society mistreated and pigeonholed women,  lumped together a group of writers by gender so she could take potshots at them.

    To me, a novel’s a novel.  Writers have different aims and, when they meet them, that, in my mind, makes a good novel.  Sometimes they exceed their aims and produce a great novel.  But obviously people like their pigeonholes.  The BBC has been running a programme about romance novels called ‘Reader I married him’ and they covered the brouhaha that resulted when one publisher rereleased the works of Jane Austen with chick lit covers and the tagline ‘classic romance’.  Seems that the readers of ‘serious literature’ (or should that be serious readers of literature?) weren’t at all impressed.

  28. D.S. says:

    I’ve honestly tried to find any of the novels Sands mentioned in her essay through either the Guttenburg Project or any of the online out of print book sites and I can’t find one of them.

  29. Bob says:

    After reading Eliot’s article, I want you all to know that I am very confused and I have an english quiz on it in about twenty minutes so im kinda shittin my pants.

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