In Jane Austen’s Emma, she uses the word “imaginist”, which is a term that she originally coined. Since, it has been mentioned in several literary works. Here’s the passage (as it relates to Frank Churchill saving Harriet Smith from the gypsies):
Such an adventure as this,—a fine young man and a lovely young woman thrown together in such a way, could hardly fail of suggesting certain ideas to the coldest heart and the steadiest brain. So Emma thought, at least. Could a linguist, could a grammarian, could even a mathematician have seen what she did, have witnessed their appearance together, and heard their history of it, without feeling that circumstances had been at work to make them peculiarly interesting to each other?—How much more must an imaginist, like herself, be on fire with speculation and foresight!—especially with such a ground-work of anticipation as her mind had already made. -Emma, Volume III, Chapter II
I can’t tell you how much I love this word. I love that Jane Austen created it. I love that Emma thinks herself one. I love what it means: ‘a person given to imaginative flights.’ I love that she uses it to imagine two people in love.
I think all readers and lovers of fiction in any medium are imaginists. Why else would we care about made up stories? We learn from them and can imagine ourselves in those stories and pretend that our lives are cooler than they actually are (unless you already have a super cool life and don’t need to pretend…if that’s the case for you, then why are you wasting your time reading this???).
I fell in love with Jane Austen and Emma all over again at that point in the book. I love what Jane Austen stood for: hope, love, wit, family and friendship. I love what Emma stood for, which is truly the same.
It was a pleasure reading Emma and I think it wins as my favorite Austen novel so far (beating out Pride and Prejudice…yikes!). I’ll be putting a full review/reflection of the book up in the coming days, but I just wanted to leave you with this tidbit to guide you through the weekend.
Carry forth with your beautiful imaginations, you beautiful imaginists.