“I am no novel-reader — I seldom look into novels — Do not imagine that
I often read novels — It is really very well for a novel.” Such
is the common cant. “And what are you reading, Miss — ?” “Oh!
It is only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down
her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It
is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some
work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in
which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest
delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and
humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.
—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, ch. 5 (1803).