In a review of John Lukacs' 1981 book "Philadelphia: Patricians and Philistines", the "New York Times" praised the iconoclastic historian for excavating the work of the 'elegant essayist' Agnes Repplier, 'the Jane Austen of the essay'. Now, in "American Austen", Lukacs has compiled a definitive and delightful reader of the best writing of this most unjustly forgotten prose stylist and commonsense philosopher. In these pages, Repplier (1855-1950) emerges as perhaps the wittiest female author in the history of American letters – Dorothy Parker not expected. Lukacs has gleaned from Repplier's work the finest essays on her hometown of Philadelphia, excerpts from her biographies of figures such as Junipero Serra, insightful reflections on Puritanism, the suburbs, and writers from Horace to Thackeray, and various other pieces brimming with Repplier's characteristically pungent commentary on American life. Agnes Repplier's engaging style, good-natured skepticism, and realistic appreciation of the genuine accomplishments of Western civilization should win for her a new and attentive audience in the twenty-first century. Agnes Repplier, who published for sixty-five of her ninety-five years, was the author of more than two dozen books, all of which are out of print. A native Philadelphian who never moved and never married, during her lifetime she was a popular essayist who wrote for virtually every major literary outlet in America, including the Atlantic, Harpers, and Life.
Michael Dirda - book critic for The Washington Post – wrote an absolutely glowing review of this collection by Repplier. By sheer serendipity I happened to stumble upon his review a few days ago, and of course needed the book immediately. An avid reader of "forgotten" women's literature, there was no way I was going to pass this one up. I have quite a collection of this sort of writing, concentrating mostly on the 18th and 19th centuries.
Goodness knows when it will get to the top of my reading queue, but now I have it in my hot little hands so won't have to worry about procuring it. I'm always afraid of forgetting titles and losing reading opportunities. That's my
excuse reason for needing so many books. It would be a travesty to miss such a wonderful book. Better I should stock up now.
Now I've spread the word, and I hope others will "stock up" as well, though now I see Amazon reports there will be a slight delay in shipping the book.
Sorry about that.
One thought on “Jane Austen’s American near contemporary – Agnes Repplier”
Can’t wait to hear your impressions of the American Jane Austen. I understand that Repplier did not write fiction, but essays and critics. It should be interesting. Enjoy!