An end to Austenism

i-b72e48ba7e2800f832aeb852a407cafe-austenhitler-1.pngI know that true Sciencebloggers don’t link to Billy D’s blog, but there’s just too much amusement to be had there. His latest shows that not only did he clearly fail biology (and math), but literature isn’t his thing either. Billy explains:

The Nazi emphasis on proper breeding, racial purity, and weeding out defectives come from taking Darwin?s theory seriously and applying it at the level of society.

Those of you who do remember high school will remember quotes like these from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:

He was at the same time haughty, reserved, and fastidious, and his manners, though well-bred, were not inviting.

This is clearly a cryptic forerunner of the Lebensborn.

That is my idea of good breeding; and those persons who fancy themselves very important, and never open their mouths, quite mistake the matter.


Nothing less than the complaisance of a courtier could have borne without anger such treatment; but Sir William’s good breeding carried him through it all;

Or indeed:

“I am the less surprised at what has happened,” replied Sir William, “from that knowledge of what the manners of the great really are, which my situation in life has allowed me to acquire. About the court, such instances of elegant breeding are not uncommon.”

Truly, this will not do, for the hate simply goes on. Jane Austen, who died when Darwin was just 8, is clearly the first in a line of ideologues that ended in Hitler and Mengele.

We must instantly ban “Austenism” from the schools, to be replaced by “Intelligent Literature.” Such literature would consist of more than just marriage plots, and would delve into issues of greater substance. Fine works that would doubtless meet Billy’s scrupulous concern for breeding, racial purity and care for “defectives” might include Othello or perhaps Verdi’s excellent Otello. Richard III would be another excellent choice.

It’s a shame that much of American history could not be discussed in Billy’s ideal world. Why did the rumors that Alexander Hamilton was a mulatto, or the fact of his bastard birth, keep him from the presidency? In Billy’s world, such concerns originated with a book published in 1859, and could not possibly have played a role in late 18th century American politics.


  1. #1 Dale
    August 25, 2006

    When referring to people, in texts of the Austin vintage, “breeding” refers to “the result of good upbringing” or similar, not to any matter of biology. Modern usage may be broader.
    Did you know this and leave it out for effect?

  2. #2 Josh
    August 25, 2006

    Yes, Dale. I did know. Thanks.

  3. #3 mommyrex
    August 26, 2006

    Josh, I will never forgive what you’ve done to Austen’s portrait.

  4. #4 jepalmer
    August 26, 2006

    This post is great, but Dale’s comment was the icing on the cake. ;)

    It’s worth noting that DW Harding quite seriously proposed in his 1940 essay “Regarding Hatred” that Jane’s novels were in large part a channel for suppressed “fear and hatred,” especially directed at her ill-bred inferiors. Maybe that little moustache isn’t so incongrous after all?

New comments have been disabled.