Love and Freindship, and Other Early Works Now First Published From the Original Ms
by Frederick A. Stokes Co. 12mo. xviii+174 pp. $2.00., with a Preface by G. K. Chesterton. New York:
IF the little volume called Love and Freindship, which includes early works by the same author, had appeared anonymously it would have been hailed as an ultra-modern burlesque of the old-fashioned novel, of the Sir Charles Grandison type. The spelling, the seeming naïveté with which the clever young author skates over the frailties of a past age would inevitably cause the chuckling reader to wonder whether Daisy Ashford had perpetrated another joke. Mr. G. K. Chesterton writes a preface to this little volume even as Mr. J. M. Barrie introduced The Young Visiters, and we almost suspect that the dealer in paradoxes is fooling us — until we rub our eyes in amazement and find that the author of this gay little skit is none other than Jane Austen of blessed memory!
The delicate satire, the excellent fooling of the letters which largely compose Love and Freindship unmistakably reveal the shrewd and humorous creator of Emma, of Marianne Dashwood, and of Elizabeth Bennet. Most of all is the bewildered reader amazed by the extreme modernity of the humor and insight of this burlesque. In an age that took with portentous seriousness its sense and its sensibilities, its pride and its prejudice, it is astonishing to find this clever and demure little analyst of human nature pricking the bubbles of sham and sentimentality with her incisive wit.
Mr. Chesterton’s discriminating preface says all that we ourselves presently feel when we smile at the incomparable Jane’s witty jibes at the facts arid the fiction of her day.
‘Our neighborhood was small,’ writes Laura to Marianne, ‘for it consisted only of your mother.’ Miss Margaret Lesley envies her friend Charlotte’s immunity from the pain of causing suffering to ‘Amiable Young Men.’ ‘How often,’ she writes, ‘have I wished that I possessed as little personal Beauty as you do; that my figure were as inelegant; my face as unlovely ; . . . But ah! W hat little chance is there of so desirable an event; I have had the small-pox, and must therefore submit to my unhappy fate.'
From every page one could call quotable extracts, but admirers of Miss Austen will wish to enjoy in its completeness her latest — and one of her earliest — works.
It is not often that the reputation of an author is enhanced, a century after her death, by the publication of the scattered pages of early literary efforts, but in the case of Love and Freindship both emotions for the gifted young writer are increased in the hearts of the countless lovers and friends never known to her.
A. L. GRANT.