Writing Elsewhere I have written for The Critic about why John Nash is overrated, and what London was like the day after Elizabeth II died. The obvious question about Persuasion is why it opens the way it does. This is supposed to be a romance. But the first pages (and chapters) are about the Baronetage, the genealogical record of one of Britain’s lowest aristocratic ranks, and the vanity of Sir Walter Elliot and his family. Anne, his middle daughter, who is supposed to be the romantic heroine, appears briefly in the Elliot entry in the baronetage, and then not again until the third page. Then it is said she “was nobody with either father or sister; her word had no weight, her convenience was always to give way—she was only Anne.”
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