The English novelist, known for books like Room with a View and Passage to India, wrote a passionate 1924 review in the New Republic on a new anthology of Austen’s work.
Jane Austen is so different. One’s favorite author! One reads and rereads, the mouth open and the mind closed.
He oohs over the new illustrations in the anthology: Lydia and Kitty’s lust-filled Brighton, Jane Fairfax’s Broadwood. He aahs over well-hewn annotations that force the mindless re-reader from “[relapsing] again into the primal stupor.” Yes, yes, I know that stupor well.
For literary nerds, there might be no greater joy than discovering that one of your favorite authors adored another. So even when Forster’s self-awareness of his blind devotion to Austen hits a little close to home, we can forgive:
Shut up in measureless content, one greets her by the name of most kind hostess, while criticism slumbers. The Jane Austenite possesses none of the brightness he ascribes to his idol. Like all regular churchgoers, he scarcely notices what is being said.
Today would have been Jane Austen’s 240th birthday. You can check out Forster’s full genuflection at the temple of Austen here.