Jane Austen was the natural choice for the butt of this joke. I took my lead from Mark Twain. Some choice Twain quotes on the subject:
To me his prose is unreadable–like Jane Austin’s [sic]. No there is a difference. I could read his prose on salary, but not Jane’s. Jane is entirely impossible. It seems a great pity that they allowed her to die a natural death.
- Letter to W. D. Howells, 1/18/1909
Jane Austen’s books, too, are absent from this library. Just that one omission alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn’t a book in it.
- Following the Equator
I haven’t any right to criticise books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.
- Letter to Joseph Twichell, 9/13/1898