Continuing yesterday’s discussion about Russian literature, a private e-mail exchange between English prof Micah Mattix and me resulted in his mentioning that people either liked Jane Austen, or they liked Russian novels of the period, but rarely did they like both. I asked him why. Here is his answer.

What do you think? Erin Manning, I’m looking at you especially.

UPDATE: For the record, I cannot stand Jane Austen, or 19th-century British literature. Reading it (for me) is like walking around in a hot day with a starched collar. I want to like it in theory, but I’d be dead asleep by the end of the first chapter. I say this knowing that as soon as my wife reads it, she will wallop me. Austen, Eliot, she reads all that stuff — except Trollope, which she once said to me she cannot stand for the same reason I don’t like any 19th c. British lit.