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Satan and Miss Bates

Noted philosopher and scholar, CS Lewis, uses Miss Bates in Emma to help readers better understand Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost.
"Before considering the character of Milton's Satan it may be desirable to remove an ambiguity by noticing that Jane Austen's Miss Bates could be described either as a very entertaining or a very tedious person. If we said the first, we should mean that the author's portrait of her entertains us while we read; if we said the second, we should mean that it does so by being the portrait of a person whom the other people in Emma find tedious and whose like we also should find tedious in real life. For it is a very old critical discovery that the imitation in art of unpleasing objects may be a pleasing imitation.

The Hell [Satan] carries with him is, in one sense a Hell of infinite boredom, Satan, like Miss Bates is interesting to read about; but Milton makes plain the blank uninterestingness of being Satan."

(A Preface to Paradise Lost, CS Lewis (OUP 1942) pp.94,102.)

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JasnaCalgary is a region of the Jane Austen Society of North America. We are all interested in everything Jane, from love of her novels to scholarly pursuits. Five times a year we meet to enjoy talks, workshops, teas, and galas. Attend a meeting and if you have fun, join in! Membership is $15.00 annually to cover our tea and cakes and other expenses.

Only a few special events require pre-paid tickets, such as the annual Tea celebrating Jane Austen's birthday and our bi-annual Gala.

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Site last updated on 2015 July 5

CS Lewis on Miss Bates
Highlights of May 9 meeting

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