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Jane Austen's Fiction Manuscripts

Here are a couple of interesting links to news about Jane Austen on the net which discuss Jane's books being heavily edited and there is even a suggestion that she was a bad speller. How can they say such a thing?!

Here's one from the Guardian which does at least try to defend our Jane! There are also some interesting comments below the article where the general public have added their three penny worth!

If you'd like to judge for yourself, head on over to Jane Austen's Fiction Manuscripts where you can see some 1100 pages of fiction written in Jane's own hand. It is indeed wonderful to see that she too had messy jottings, which surely as a toiling writer is the only way to work. I have to say I find it extremely heartening to see that she didn't write it all down perfectly. Can you imagine how thrilled she would have been if she'd had access to our modern technology where it is so easy to delete mistakes and write new drafts, not to mention having built-in access to a thesaurus and spell-checker. Then again, we wouldn't have had these wonderful treasures which prove she was a true artist seeking perfection in all that she wrote.
I still like to scribble down notes in pen or pencil when I'm getting ideas for a new book rather than using my laptop straight away. If you could, would you go back to the simple pleasures of pen and paper, or are you happiest in our computer age?


Scrapiana said…
Yes, the messy, creative first draft stage is unavoidable, in whatever medium you choose.

I agree with you that Jane would have relished the editing ease of our modern writing tools. Wouldn't she have been amused by social media too? She'd undoubtedly have been a Twitterer: what a great place to pick up character preoccupations and conversational tropes!
Jane Odiwe said…
Yes, I totally agree that the first, messy stage is unavoidable - and as you suggest, I'm absolutely certain she'd have loved 'lurking' on twitter!
Isa Merino said…
Hi, Jane, I travelled to London two weekds ago, but it was imposible to meet you. I visited The National Portrait in London and I could see that Jane Austen portrait. Wow, I hoped it big, but it´s small, very very very small. It was great being in front of Jane Austen real portrait. Cassandra painted it. Wow. I only can say: Wow O.O

It was wonderful.

Hope you are so well as I see you in Bath.

Kisses from Málaga and very success with your books and manuscripts and pictures. You´re great, darling.
Jane Odiwe said…
Hello Isa,
I hope you're fully recovered from the mumps!
That little portrait is wonderful to see, isn't it - I'm so glad you managed to see it.
Alexa Adams said…
I read both of these articles last night and wasn't sure how to respond at the time. I like the way you handled it: "we wouldn't have had these wonderful treasures which prove she was a true artist seeking perfection in all that she wrote". How true! I do not find Sutherland's findings to be a criticism of Austen, but proof that she was an engaged and active artist. Actually, as a horrific speller myself, I find these claims remarkably reassuring (what would I do without spell check?). On the other hand, I find Jones' extremely defensive retort more comical than convincing. I suppose it's the gut reaction of all Janeites to run to the lady's defense, but I'm not sure such a response was appropriate in this case. We know Austen did massive edits and rewrites. This is no surprise. Her letters confirm that it is her own, unique voice that comes through in her novels. Sutherland only confirms that perfection does not come easily. I don't find that message threatening, but hopeful.
Jane Odiwe said…
There is also the point that there was no standard English at the time - there were huge variations in the way people spelled the language.

I agree, Austen's voice comes through so strongly - not the work of any editor but herself!
Isa Merino said…
Hi, Jane, I´m totally recovered from the mumps. Thanks God!!!

I travelled to London only for 4 days with a friend. We visited some places we hadn´t been before and we went to Windsor and Eton. Wonderful places!!! I went to the theatre too, for musicals. I went to see Grease in Picadilly theatre, and also Legally Blonde in Savoy Theatre. We went to a concert to, for the cancer, the 80th anniversary of Apollo Victoria Theatre. Fantastic!!!

In one of my visits in London I visited the National Portrait, like I told you before, and it was really really fantastic to see that only and real Jane Austen portrair. Very small, but she saw that portrait, she put in front of Cassandra, and Cassandra painted that portrait that I was watching in that place. Wooow... marvellous.

Jane, I have some pictures from Bath, I sent to Victoria Connelly some of them. If you want, send me your email to mine and I´ll send you, ok? I remember those days in Bath with a real smile in my mouth. It was a dream, well, a dream with mumps, jajajja.

My email is:

Kisses, Jane

Congrats for your job and for your smile and words.


Jane Odiwe said…
Hi Isa,
I've written to you by email.
Thanks for stopping by!