A Truth Universally Acknowledged

My prof suggested that I write a blog in order to document my research in the course I’m currently taking. Well, why not, says I? The course is a Master’s level reading course on Jane Austen. That’s truth, though not universally acknowledged. Although, hopefully, by the time I’m done I’ll be university-ly acknowledged.

So the first thing I’ve got to do is re-read the novels. Tough, I know, but one has to suffer for one’s scholarly pursuits. I decided to read them in the order they were published, with the exception of Northanger Abbey – even though it was last to be published, posthumously, along with Persuasion, it was the first actually completed in its published form. So I’ll read it first.

I love the story of how Austen had sold the manuscript anonymously to a publisher in 1803 for the princely sum of £10. The guy just sat on it, wouldn’t publish it. In 1811, Sense and Sensibility came out, and became a smash hit. Three other novels followed, all very popular. Then in 1817, Austen’s brother Henry went to that publisher, and bought back the manuscript “by a lady” for the exact £10 that were paid for it. And THEN Henry Austen told that publisher that this book that had been languishing at the bottom of his Georgian slush pile was, in fact, written by one of the bestselling authors of the day. Oooops… That’s got to be one of the biggest raspberries in publishing history.

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