Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Jane Austen

On this day in 1817, Jane Austen died after a lingering struggle with Addison's Disease. She was only 41 years old, and the English speaking world, unknowingly at the time, was deprived of one of its greatest novelists. Historian Paul Johnson captures this bereavement well:

"The knowledge that today this fatal complaint can easily be cured by modern medication heightens our sense of loss at her death at age forty-one... Her early death, like that of so many create people of her era--Keats, Shelley, Mozart, Weber, Girtin, GĂ©ricault, Bonington--leaves us with a fierce longing for the works she would undoubtedly have produced to delight us. There is no other writer I know of who inspires this feeling so poignantly. That is testimony to her greatness as a creator."

-from Creators by Paul Johnson, chapter 7

Rest in peace, dear Miss Austen.