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This Month's Literary Quotations: Jane Austen (1775-1817)


English author Jane Austen lived from 1775 to 1817. Her novels are highly prized not only for their light irony, humour, and depiction of contemporary English country life, but also for their underlying serious qualities. Jane Austen is considered by many to be the foremost writer of the early 19th century. Her fiction focuses on relationships and the attempts by her heroes and heroines to find fortune and romance. Her ironic tone often comes through whether speaking as the narrator of a tale or through one of the characters.

"Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation?"

I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them.

"If there is any thing disagreeable going on, men are always sure to get out of it."
Persuasion

"Leave him to chuse his own wife. Depend upon it, a man of six or seven-and-twenty can take care of himself."
Emma
humor, marriage, men, all

"You men have none of you any heart."
Northanger Abbey
love, all

"I will not allow it to be more man's nature than woman's to be inconstant and forget those they do love, or have loved. I believe in a true analogy between our bodily frames and our mental; and that as our bodies are the strongest, so are our feelings; capable of bearing most rough usage, and riding out the heaviest weather."
spoken by Capt. Wentworth in Persuasion
men, women, all

"I believe you [men] capable of everything great and good in your married lives. I believe you equal to every important exertion, and to every domestic forbearance, so long as - if I may be allowed the expression, so long as you have an object. I mean, while the woman you love lives, and lives for you. All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one, you need not covet it) is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone."
Persuasion
women, all

"I was therefore entered at Oxford and have been properly idle ever since."
Sense and Sensibility
education, humor, all

"An occasional memento of past folly, however painful, might not be without use."
Northanger Abbey
proverb, all

"...I am very sorry to be right in this instance. I would much rather have been merry than wise."
Emma
proverb, all

"Aye, it is a fine thing to be young and handsome."
Sense and Sensibility
humor, men, all

"I have often observed how little young ladies are interested by books of a serious stamp, though written solely for their benefit."
Pride and Prejudice
humor, teenagers, education, all

"I wish as well as every body else to be perfectly happy; but like every body else it must be in my own way."
Sense and Sensibility
happiness, proverb, all

"What have wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?"
Sense and Sensibility
proverb, all

"There is nothing like employment, active, indespenable employment, for relieving sorrow."
Mansfield Park
, all

"...misery such as mine has no pride. I care not who knows that I am wretched."
Sense and Sensibility
sorrow, all

"Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure."
Pride and Prejudice
proverb, life, all

"There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense."
Pride and Prejudice
humor, people, all

"There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves."
Emma
humor, proverb, all

"Here and there, human nature may be great in times of trial, but generally speaking it is its weakness and not its strength that appears in a sick chamber; it is selfishness and impatience rather than generosity and fortitude, that one hears of."
Persuasion
humor, illness, all

"Those who do not complain are never pitied."
Pride and Prejudice
humor, proverb, all

"There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome."
Pride and Prejudice
proverb, wit, all

"Nobody minds having what is too good for them."
Mansfield Park
proverb, humor, all

"...one of those well-meaning people, who are always doing mistaken and very disagreeable things."
Mansfield park
humor, philanthropy, all

"...angry people are not always wise..."
Pride and Prejudice
proverb, all

"What wild imaginations one forms, where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken."
Persuasion
Proverb, people, all

"Opposition on so tender a subject would only attach her the more to her own opinion."
Sense and Sensibility
, all

"[He] is a man...whom every body speaks well of, and nobody cares about; whom all are delighted to see, and nobody remembers to talk to."
Sense and Sensibility
, all

"A man who has nothing to do with his own time has no conscience in his intrusions on that of others."
Sense and Sensibility
proverb, all

"...with them, to wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect."
Sense and Sensibility
insult, people, humor, all


"She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped."
Persuasion
people, wisdom, all

"I am not born to sit still and do nothing. If I lose the game, it shall not be from not striving for it."
Mansfield Park
life, inspiration, all

"'My idea of good company...is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.' 'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company, that is the best.'"
Persuasion
people, humor, all

"...our pleasures in this world are always to be paid for..."
Northanger Abbey
life, karma, all

"A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment."
Pride and Prejudice
humor, women, men, battle of the sexes, marriage, all

"That would be the greatest misfortune of all! - To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate!"
Pride and Prejudice
humor, battle of the sexes, love, all

"[She] is one of those young ladies who seek to recommend themselves to the other sex by undervaluing their own, and with many men, I dare say, it succeeds."
Pride and Prejudice
men, women, battle of the sexes, all

"There is hardly any personal defect... which an agreeable manner might not gradually reconcile one to."
Persuasion
people, all

"...the more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love."
Sense and Sensibility
humor, men, all

"...these violent young lovers carry every thing their own way."
Pride and Prejudice
humor, love, all

"You are too sensible a girl...to fall in love merely because you are warned against it."
Pride and Prejudice
, all

"I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!"
Pride and Prejudice
humor, all

"A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman! - He ought not - he does not."
Persuasion
love, all

"Let no one presume to give the feelings of a young woman on receiving the assurance of that affection of which she has scarcely allowed herself to entertain a hope."
Mansfield Park
love, all

"...do any thing rather than marry without affection."
Pride and Prejudice
marriage, love, all

"...to marry for money I think the wickedest thing in existence."
Northanger Abbey
marriage, all

"It would be an excellent match, for he was rich and she was handsome."
Sense and Sensibility
humor, marriage, all

"There certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them."
Mansfield Park
love, life, marriage, all

"His temper might perhaps be a little soured by finding, like many others of his sex, that trough some unaccounable bias in favor of beauty, he was the husband of a very silly woman."
Sense and Sensibility
humor, marriage, all

"A woman is not to marry a man merely because she is asked, or because he is attached to her..."
Emma
marriage, men, women, feminism, all

"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."
Pride and Prejudice
marriage, love, all

"You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it."
Pride and Prejudice
insult, marriage, all

"...I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry."
Pride and Prejudice
insult, marriage, all

"Let me only have the girl I like, say I, with a comfortable house over my head, and what care I for all the rest."
Northanger Abbey
marriage, happiness, all

"With such a reward for her tears, the child was too wise to cease crying."
Sense and Sensibility
humor, parents, children, all

"Wherever you are you should always be contented, but especially at home, because there you must spend the most of your time."
Northanger Abbey
life, happiness, all

"There are secrets in all families, you know..."
Emma
life, family, all

"Society has claims on us all."
Pride and Prejudice
life, all

"...she had the comfort of appearing very polite, while feeling very cross..."
Emma
humor, society, all

"Give me but a little cheerful company, let me only have the company of the people I love, let me only be where I like and with whom I like, and the devil may take the rest, say I."
Northanger Abbey
happiness, friends, all

"...the commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic might be rendered interesting by the skill of the speaker."
pride and Prejudice
intelligence, academia, all

"I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible."
Northanger Abbey
humor, academia, all

"One man's ways may be as good as another's, but we all like our own best."
Persuasion
proverb, all

"That is the case with all of us, Papa. One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other."
Emma
humor, life, all

"How quick come the reasons for approving what we like."
Persuasion
humor, life, proverb, all

"You should never fret about trifles."
Northanger Abbey
proverb, humor, all

"It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; - it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others."
Sense and Sensibility
friends, love, all

"...for what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?"
Pride and Prejudice




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