This boggles the mind:
"I am at a loss to understand why people hold Miss Austen’s novels at so high a rate, which seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in invention, imprisoned in the wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world. Never was life so pinched & narrow. The one problem in the mind of the writer in both the stories I have read, “Persuasion”, and “Pride & Prejudice”, is marriageableness; all that interests any character introduced is still this one, has he or she money to marry with, & conditions conforming? ‘Tis “the nympholepsy of a fond despair”, say rather, of an English boarding-house. Suicide is more respectable."
From Emerson in His Journals.
I might remind Emerson that "marriageablenss" was indeed a prime concern of women in that era, as it was ILLEGAL TO INHERIT PROPERTY OR MONEY.
Quote comes via Ty Cowen at Marginal Revolution, one of the best blogs you're not reading.