Something very shocking indeed has come out in London

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Several Alert Janeites let us know–some in frantic terms–about a current spate of articles featuring Austen scholar Kathryn Sutherland, who is going around telling everyone that that Jane was barely literate and an editor rewrote all her books. Or, that’s what one might gather from some august news organs, with their sensational headlines and ledes.

The Daily Mail: How Jane Austen failed at spelling: Study shows author wrote in a ‘regional accent’ and used poor punctuation

The Telegraph: Jane Austen’s famous prose may not be hers after all

Reuters: Austen’s “polished prose” not so polished: academic

Even Auntie Beeb, who has made such hay from Herself over the years, sticks a shiv in her back, Brutus-like: Jane Austen’s style might not be hers, academic claims

All of the articles are quoting Prof. Sutherland, who is, not coincidentally, preparing to launch the Austen manuscripts online project and, one presumes, looking for some publicity. She opines that in her study of Austen’s manuscripts, it appears that Jane sometimes misspells words! And uses the wrong punctuation! And crosses things out and rewrites them! And that John Murray employed an editor to fix her errors!!!!

This is news? Seriously? Continue reading

Forgive lack of recent posting

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Real life interferes once again. In the meantime, enjoy a link from Alert Janeite David, who found a link to an iPad-ready edition of P&P. The blog post seems to have fed the description (which is fine on Amazon) though a translator and then back to English again. We were, however, especially amused by this comment:

Please, this was an utterly unconvincing and boring novel. If it wa written today it would be internationally acclaimed for being a dummed down soap opera. Unfortunately, having been composed in, what, the 1830s, it has become a period drama style romance novel, where instead of foreplay, they have to bow and curtsy and everything. Althought this may appeal to worthless romantics, it will not perform well to the MTV generation. The movie starred Hugh Grant. Please………

How many things can one A. Nonny Mouse get wrong in one blog comment? And we’re not even talking about the typos.

Enjoy, and with luck regular service will resume tonight. Feel free to take this as an open thread. Let us know what’s going on in your patch of Janeiteville.

How not to make friends and influence people among the Janeites

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Alert Janeite Lisa G. sent us a link to a post at Jezebel deconstructing a recent episode of the Glenn Beck Show in which he mentions Jane Austen, and not in a complimentary way.

Now, we know that Janeiteville is a really big tent with a remarkable cross-section of people of all backgrounds. We’re sure some of our readers are big fans of Glenn Beck, and we are not here to comment upon that. We are only here to respond to the comments about her work that he makes in this particular program (and we beg our Gentle Readers to do the same).

In the second video clip, Mr. Beck says, while displaying some odd body language that looks like he wants to strangle someone:

You think of um, movies, from, you know, like those stupid bonnet movies, that, what’s her name, Emma Thompson is always in, those awful, you know, OOOOOOOHHHHHHH, Jane Austen, ugh, but anyway–sorry ladies–tortuous! But you see that, and they’re always so prim and proper, ‘oh, I don’t know if the captain will come home this week,’ and finger sandwiches, and that’s it.

Um, what? *hefts Cluebat of Janeite Righteousness* For a program that was given to an entirely female audience, this does not seem to be the way to go about winning friends amongst the Janeites; and it does not seem to be the way to win confidence from one’s audience, by belittling their entertainment choices and by belittling the work of a woman who did not take the view that many of her generation took–marriage with the first eligible man who comes along being “the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune”–and instead courageously sells her work and carves out a small living in a society that did not value fiction overmuch, especially that written by women. And we’re still reading it two hundred years later, which should tell you, if you’re paying attention, that it’s more than bonnets and finger sandwiches.

Do we have to bring out the line from Miss Austen Regrets again? “If that’s what you think Aunt Jane’s books are about, then you need to read them again.” Not that it appears that Mr. Beck has ever read them in the first place.

As far as “revisionism” in which 20th century “Marxists” purged history of women’s contributions, Catherine Morland has something to say about history books:

“Yes, I am fond of history.”

“I wish I were too. I read it a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all — it is very tiresome: and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention. The speeches that are put into the heroes’ mouths, their thoughts and designs – the chief of all this must be invention, and invention is what delights me in other books.”

“The men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all.” That was published in 1817. Revisionism, indeed. Now pray excuse us while we swing the Cluebat of Janeite Righteousness for the fences.

Only When We’re Presented With Remarkably Bad and Cheaply Made Film Adaptations

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Alert Janeite Lorraine sent us a link to an article in the Globe and Mail that has almost nothing to do with Jane Austen, but the author nonetheless must needs extract his pound of flesh:

In the title role is the strapping young British actor Joseph Morgan, who is best known in North America for his roles in Master and Commander, alongside Russell Crowe, and in Oliver Stone’s lavish Alexander. To British audiences, Morgan is a perennial TV charmer, having appeared in four popular series and a much-discussed version of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (Austen fans are a hard, bitter lot).

Lieutenant Price looks most Romanesque there. 😉