"But you never read novels, I dare say?""Why not?""Because they are not clever enough for you—gentlemen read better books.""The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."
- Conversation between Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey22
"I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal."
- Jane Austen, letter to Cassandra Austen, 24 December 179823
"To come with a well-informed mind is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can."
- Narrator, Northanger Abbey
, Chapter 1424
"I shall think with tenderness and delight on his beautiful and smiling countenance and interesting manner, until a few years have turned him into an ungovernable, ungracious fellow."
- Jane Austen, on her three-year-old nephew, in a letter to Cassandra, 27 October 179825
"He is rich, to be sure, and you may have more fine clothes and fine carriages than Jane. But will they make you happy? … I know that you could be neither happy nor respectable, unless you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up to him as a superior. Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage. You could scarcely escape discredit and misery. My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life. You know not what you are about."
- Mr. Bennet to Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice26
"But I tell you what, Miss Lizzy, if you take it into your head to go on refusing every offer of marriage in this way, you will never get a husband at all—and I am sure I do not know who is to maintain you when your father is dead."
- Mrs. Bennet to Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice27
"Only those who have realized for themselves the ridiculous inadequacy of a straight stick dipped in ink when brought in contact with the rich and tumultuous glow of life can appreciate to the full the wonder of her achievement, the imagination, the penetration, the insight, the courage, the sincerity which are required to bring before us one of those perfectly normal and simple incidents of average human life."
- Virginia Woolf, on Jane Austen28
"She is incomparably the greatest female writer we possess. She is the greatest and for this reason: she does not attempt to write like a man. Every other woman does; on that account, I don't read 'em."
- Richard Dalloway in Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out29
"Jane Austen's books, too, are absent from this library. Just that one omission alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it."
- Austen-hater Mark Twain, in his travelogue Following the Equator30
"She was a great little novelist. . . . But her world is a tiny one. . . . She did not know enough of the world to be a great novelist. She had not the ambition to be a great novelist. She knew her place."
- Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), an English novelist who would probably be surprised to learn that Austen's reputation outlasted his own31