Charles Baxter to Jane Austen
Regular readers of this blog will know (hi out there, you two, nice to see you) that I studied with Charlie Baxter in 2007. This afternoon I picked up his book The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot and it fell open (okay, okay, I browsed around a bit) to the following passage: "...there's nothing like a good, usable obssession to provide an interesting story." (p. 38.)
I realize that the novels and stories I like the best resound with obsession. My own, and those of other writers. Flannery O'Connor, Penelope Fitzgerald, A.S. Byatt, Shirley Hazzard, Marcel Proust.
And then I got to thinking about Jane Austen, for many years my favorite author, and one I used to come back to again and again. Not so much lately. Certainly Emma is in the grips of an obsession, in her refined way. And Fanny Price and, of course, Anne Elliot. Elinor, check. I know, it's hard to put that supremely Freudian word obsession next to Miss Austen, but her books are all about sex and money. Except for the ones which are about money and sex.
So I think I may re-read Austen next. But which one?