Fond of History?

“…I can read poetry and plays, and things of that sort, and do not dislike travels. But history, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. Can you?”

“Yes, I am fond of history.”

“I wish I were too. I read a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all—it is very tiresome…”

“You are fond of history! And so are Mr Allen and my father; and I have two brothers who do not dislike it. So many instances within my small circle of friends is remarkable! At this rate, I shall not pity the writers of history any longer. If people like to read their books, it is all very well, but to be at so much trouble in filling great volumes, which, as I used to think, nobody would willingly ever look into, to be labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate; and though I know it is all very right and necessary, I have often wondered at the person’s courage that could sit down on purpose to do it.”

“That little boys and girls should be tormented,” said Henry, “is what no one at all acquainted with human nature in a civilised state can deny; but on behalf of our most distinguished historians, I must observe that they might well be offended at being supposed to have no higher aim, and that by their method and style, they are perfectly well qualified to torment readers of the most advanced reason and mature time of life….”

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

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8 comments on “Fond of History?

  1. wil says:

    I really never liked history until I discovered cultural/social history, history with an anthropological slant, history of the oft-ignored classes (the poor, women, et al.), etc.

  2. ted says:

    I'd sure love for you to join the Ulysses group, even if you didn't think you could keep up. Just to know that someone is looking at the posts would be a great encouragement to me.

  3. Stefanie says:

    Great quotes you've found. Unfortunately I don't think the perception of teaching or reading history has changed much since Jane's time

  4. Dorothy W. says:

    Oh, my — I do love Austen! She's so funny.

  5. bclark says:

    I love history. Jane Austen is tedious.

  6. Imani says:

    *ahem* Well someone has been drinking Kool aid made long after its expiration date.

  7. Sylvia says:

    Ted, I'm tempted, if only because I keep hearing what an impossible book it is. We'll see…

  8. Sylvia says:

    Benjamin: Resistance is futile. You will be Austenilated.

Comments are closed.