Search This Blog

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The History of England by a partial, prejudiced and ignorant Historian. Jane Austen (1791) The Quince Tree Press.

The title is wonderfully true in this spiky and joyously opinionated and very short book. Calling it a history of England is a very considerable stretch, it is a review of a partial list  the kings and queens of England from Henry the 4th to Charles the 1st. The reason for writing the book is declared to ". ..being to prove the innocence of the Queen if Scotland,...and to abuse Elizabeth..." and this intention is pursued faithfully with a glorious disregard for anything other than the writers unvarnished and unsupported opinion.
Jane Austen was 16 years old when she wrote this hugely entertaining book and it has all the virtues of a very talented young writers work. The superb, unconcerned confidence in her own opinion, the sharp flow of words and the very direct address to the reader. The clear indications of the razor with and construction that would mature so brilliantly in her later masterpieces.
The structure of the book is a series of very short,very personal, reviews of the relevant monarchs, history in any sense is the last thing that matters. The subjects have caught Jane Austen's fancy in some way and she has something to say about them and that is their sole purpose. Happily what she has to say is greatly entertaining.
This is history as it is actually remembered by most people, bits of facts, more or less, with mixed opinions as to the status of a monarch as being generally good or bad with a few outstanding ones remember for essentially non-historical reasons.
A snarky, wonderfully energetic pleasure.

No comments:

Post a Comment