I have more to say about these guesses further down. I can interject here that Jane Austen's dates are , so all of those male authors were old men to her - men from her grandfather's or great-grandfather's generation. That doesn't mean that they could not have been influences, but the observation does encourage us to look a bit nearer to her own generation.
That pattern is repeated in Volume 3, beginning with the laceration at Box hill described in Chapter 7 of that Volume. That is the nearly unforgivable insult that Emma lets slip to Miss Bates. I was once in a theatre were the audience laughed at Emma's cutting remark, in a filmed version of , and that reminded of just how attractive Jane Austen's heroines were created - audiences are even ready to follow them into error.
I have the impression that novels were not even considered "literature" in England at that time. Men did read novels of course, but it was a brave admission to make in public. You can read of just such a brave admission by Mr. Tilney in . However, this was an admission unashamedly made by Jane Austen's father, brothers, and nephews.
On the other hand, there is this . Incidentally, Fielding delineated there what he thought was required of a good novelist - genius, learning, wide-ranging experience, and . The Janite will recognize this list because our Jane Austen meets all criteria every bit as well as Fielding himself. The wise Janite will say a special "amen" to "heart." (Perhaps it is "heart" that brother James Austen is claiming for his sister with his mention of Lawrence Sterne - see .)
Perhaps you are one of those who think that the gentlemen and gentlewomen of Jane Austen's time did not share a kiss or caress before marriage - and maybe not even after. Many people think that, women of the Commonwealth are especially adamant about that. One such tried to get the point through my thick, crude, American skull in this way: "The point is that Tom Jones could kiss a maid in the street, and indeed, so could Wentworth, but neither could kiss the daughter of a gentleman ... in the street." Perhaps you agree with this lady. - Oh yeah! then explain this passage. This is from Chapter 12 of Book 5 of . Sophia Western is a gentleman's daughter (one of the most proper and most attractive in English literature), and out for a stroll when she came upon Tom, lying in a heap and covered with blood. (A couple of guys had just beat the wee out of him.) So, since Sophia was a heroine in a mid-eighteenth novel, she fainted - she knew her obligations and duties as a heroine. Tom revived to find his dearest, loveliest unconscious and so he scooped her up and ran to a nearby stream to revive her.
ane Austen spent the last few months of her life in the south of Hampshire, at Winchester, as her family slowly began to grasp the grim fact that Jane had already comprehended. I thought to excerpt from one of her last letters. This is from #160 of Deirdre Le Faye's 1997 collection, . It is addressed to James Edward Austen and dated May 27, 1817; it was written from Winchester and describes the journey thereto. Our Lady had less than two months to live and the next time this sixteen-year old nephew would see her would be as she was being sealed in her coffin.
Jane Austen died very well - if such a term can be applied in such a case. I think it can; in fact, I think she died beautifully and I hope people can say the same about you and me some day. This was her final lesson for us - a final gift. She died in the bosom of her family and with more than a single act of charity toward those about her. She practiced what she preached in prayers. She was forty-one years old and so her best novels perished, unborn, within her. Her doctor was clueless but he understood his duty and gave her one of those diagnoses that every generation of doctors keep in reserve for just such occasions. Nowadays, everyone will tell you that she died of Addison's disease (adrenal insufficiency). It must be said that Dr. Addison did not describe his disease until well after Jane's death and so this diagnosis is mere 20th century speculation. You can read about Addison's disease if you wish - I did, and would never recommend such a painful exercise.
Incidentally, both Regency-era authors were later ridiculed by Mark Twain. Twain pointed to Cooper's great failing, his inconsistent, impossible sense of physical surroundings. To be sure, that weakness is quite evident in , but I absolutely refuse to notice. I greatly admire Jane Austen's impeccable attention to detail, but I refuse to acknowledge this kind of talent a consideration in a study of . Twain was less direct in the case of Scott. I had the misfortune to read Twain's in the same year as ; as a result, I sometimes laughed at some rather serious, if stilted, dialogue in Scott's novel. But, I gained the self-control required to put Twain's shameless, hilarious parody out of mind—good for me!
But, in the end, we must notice the way in which each author, a male voice of Jane Austen's time, treated his heroine as a woman. After all, that is the point of this exercise. Both Cora Munro and Rebecca of York must satisfy any taste of our time. Both are courageous, innovative, and animated in the face of extreme danger; both are well spoken in trying times. Each is put on trial for her life in front of a hostile audience and her eloquence and logic shames and sways, or nearly sways, evil intent ("an air of mingled simplicity and dignity, which excited universal surprise and admiration.") These heroines are magnificent women. Both are equally compelling and forthright in private conversations with her abductor-villain. In the case of Cora Munro, her adversary is the evil, alcoholic, traitorous, poison-tongued, lustful, murderous Huron captain Subtle Fox (Magua!) Even in the last seconds of her life, when Magua commands her to choose between his wigwam or his knife, Cora tells him, in effect, to go to hell. Scott and Cooper, those male voices, were liberal, progressive men more than one hundred years ahead of their time.
Here is the great coincidence for this web site. Jane Austen's last novel, appeared, posthumously, in 1818, only one year before . And, in that novel, Jane Austen used the exact same device, by whom we are to be repelled. How well prepared was the contemporary English audience for such a message? Very well prepared, indeed. One indication might be the storm of protest that enveloped Scott because he did not unite Rebecca and Wilfred. (Actually, I would like to give him a piece of my mind as well.)
However, that is not to say that Wilfred would not lay down his life for Rebecca. In fact, he is given the opportunity to do just that. The musky Knight Templar, de Bois-Guilbert abducts black-eyed Rebecca and plans to take her as his wife, forgetting, apparently, his vows of chastity. Unfortunately, the ascetic fanatic that governed his order had a better memory. That ideologue decided that Rebecca must be a witch because; (1) she was a Jew; (2) she was a physician; and, (3) a Knight Templar was in love with her. The other knights found his logic compelling and began to assemble a bonfire in order to burn her at the stake. The only thing that could save her would be the appearance of a knight willing to engage in mortal combat in order to prove her guilt or innocence—more impeccable logic. Ivanhoe appears in the lists for just this purpose, even though his wounds had not healed sufficiently to allow him to engage in combat; his situation, and Rebecca's, is hopeless. Indeed, he is not sufficiently recovered, so that—well, I won't go on because I don't remember how things turned out. Maybe I do; yes, Ivanhoe and Rebecca suffered the same fate as Uncas and Cora Munro. No!—wait!—that's not right—is that right? Oh, I just can't remember!