Maia B.'s Reviews > A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen

A Truth Universally Acknowledged by Susannah Carson
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Feb 11, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: too-long, could-not-finish, boring, nonfiction

Some of the essays are really interesting. The best use for some others would be kindling for your fire. Lionel Trilling's is the longest in the book, and far and away the most boring (in fact I skipped more than half of it). It doesn't have anything to do with Jane Austen; it's mostly about Trilling himself, who is apparently pompous, self-important, and self-absorbed. The first several pages are about him and his teaching style - and if this man were my teacher, I'd kill myself. Or maybe him. He's doing a class on Austen, he wants to do it as a cozy question-and-answer session, when too many students sign up for him to do this what does he do? He doesn't change his format. He conducts interviews to see who are the "best" students to let into his stupid class. This is not applying for a job, Trilling, you fool! It's a college class. God, I'll never get over his pigheadedness.

But some were actually pretty good essays - like Amy Heckerling's, writing about her movie "Clueless." Unfortunately, the second half of the book was full of essays like Lionel Trilling's, with a good one sprinkled in very rarely. If I'd bought this book for myself, instead of borrowing it, I would have felt seriously cheated. I wanted good essays, not essays about their authors and then twenty pages that's all tangent! (Lionel Trilling again. I'm really sore about that terrible essay. Why it was included I have NO idea.)

I mean, seriously. At one point he writes that "Morris...adumbrates the programmatic negation of character." What the **** does this mean? I've never even heard the word "adumbrate" before. And "programmatic negation of character"? What is that, rubbing stuff out with an eraser? But it gets better. Trilling talks later about "epistemology of culture" - whatever that is. The entire essay is a ploy to make Trilling look really intellectual and smart.

Sorry, but it just makes him look intensely pompous and obnoxious. (Actually...I'm not sorry at all.) It's a pity my vision of this book has been so blurred by this embarrassment of an essay. After all, some writers actually wrote about what they were supposed to - Jane Austen - and didn't descend into incomprehensible crap like Trilling's. I enjoyed those essays. Learned from them. Appreciated their points of view.

But Trilling? Well...I can only say, rudely, thank God he's not going to be writing any more essays.
1 like · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read A Truth Universally Acknowledged.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

07/22 marked as: read

No comments have been added yet.