Am reading ‘Who is Mark Twain’, a brilliant collection of personal papers that Mark Twain left behind. The one on Austen is a crack-up. Here is an excerpt:
Does Jane Austen do her work too remorselessly well? For me, I mean? Maybe that is it. She makes me detest all her people, without reserve.
Is that her intention? It is not believable. Then is it her purpose to make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters? That could be. That would be high art. It would be worth while, too. Some day I will examine the other end of her books and see.All the great critics praise her art generously. To start with, they say she draws her characters with sharp discrimination and a sure touch. I believe that this is true, as long as the characters she is drawing are odious……Old Mrs. Ferrars is an execrable gentlewoman and unsurpassably coarse and offensive.Mr. Dashwood, gentleman, is a coarse and cold-hearted money-worshipper; his Fanny is coarse and mean. Neither of them ever says or does a pleasant thing.Mr. Robert Ferrars, gentleman, is coarse, is a snob, and an all-round offensive person.Mr. Palmer, gentleman, is coarse, brute-mannered, and probably an ass, though we cannot tell, yet, because he cloaks himself behind silences which are not often broken by speeches that contain material enough to construct an analysis out of.His wife, lady, is coarse and silly.Lucy Steele’s sister is coarse, foolish, and disagreeable.
Did you see how her characters drawn with sharp discriminaton are all ‘coarse’?