Page:Love and Freindship.djvu/14

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PREFACE

capable of adducing them as a proof that all society was in a swoon in the first decade of the nineteenth century. But in truth it is the whole point of this little skit that the swoon of sensibility is not satirised solely because it was a fiction. Laura and Sophia are made ludicrously unlike life by being made to faint as real ladies do not faint. Those ingenious moderns, who say that the real ladies did faint, are actually being taken in by Laura and Sophia, and believing them against Jane Austen. They are believing, not the people of the period but the most nonsensical novels of the period, which even the people of the period who read them did not believe. They have swallowed all the solemnities of The Mysteries of Udolpho, and never even seen the joke of Northanger Abbey.

For if these juvenilia of Jane Austen anticipate especially any of her after works, they certainly anticipate the satiric side of Northanger Abbey. Of their considerable significance on that side something may be said presently; but it will be well to preface it by a word about the works themselves as items of literary history. Everyone knows that the novelist left an unfinished fragment, since published under the name of "The Watsons", and a finished story called "Lady Susan", in letters, which she had herself appar-

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