What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Among many others, one of the statistics writer Ben Blatt has included in his new book, Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve: The Literary Quirks and Oddities Of Our Most Loved Authors, is the number of clichés famous authors use in every 100,000 words.
Using modern technology to complete lots of complicated statistical calculations he has discovered that Jane Austen used 45 clichés per 100,000 words, Virginia Woolf 62, and Khaled Hussaini 71. This is relatively few when compared with the likes of James Patterson (160 per 100,000 words), Tom Wolfe (142 per 100,000 words), and Salman Rushdie (131 per 100,000 words).
An interesting statistic from a fun book, but at the Jane Austen News it did make us wonder – is part of the reason that Jane has so few because clichés simply weren’t as prevalent at the time when she was writing? After all, there weren’t nearly as many books being published then as there are now. Then again, perhaps Jane was just too filled with inspiration to need them!
In the Financial Times Property Listings this week was an article promoting Bath as an incredible place to live, and advising readers to follow in Jane’s footsteps and become a resident of the city. The five reasons to live in Bath were:
- Wonderful views (Bath skyline and the rooftop pool of the Thermae Spa got special references)
- It’s commutable to London (90 minute train journey from Bath Spa to London Paddington)
- It’s a stable investment (In the past five years, prime property prices in Bath have increased 24.4 per cent)
- It has a thriving arts scene (Festivals, theatres, museums, Jane Austen….)
- Country get-aways close by (The exclusive Babington House to name only one)
The Financial Times kept to just the five reasons, but we can think of plenty more!
In 1869, Rev James Edward Austen-Leigh (Jane Austen’s nephew) commissioned a portrait of her from the artist James Andrews to accompany his Memoir Of Jane Austen, the influential, first full-length biography of Jane to be written. The portrait was snapped up by a private collector for £164,500 at an auction in London in 2013. However as part of an exhibition to mark the bicentenary of Jane’s death, the portrait will be returning to the UK and will form part of an exhibition running at at The Gallery in Winchester Discovery Centre, from May 13th to July 24th. The exhibition will also feature manuscripts of some of her early writings, including a spoof History Of England, Austen’s silk pelisse coat (featuring a pattern of oak leaves), her purse and her sewing materials case.
“To my great surprise, it is really fun to read (in a weird and respectful way) since it literally adds to Austen’s prose with some proficiency in the deadly arts but stays true to the characters and setting. No wonder it has sold millions of copies in the last eight years.”
It’s a controversial book to say the least, but Mariana Ruiz at GeekDad blog has suggested that one way to persuade the reluctant reader to give Austen a go is to give them a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
“This is a book I would heartily recommend to any young lady, and I rather think it’s an improvement on the original version. Of course, you may disagree, but I can defend my opinion with my blade, as Lizzy would do.”
We certainly disagree that Seth Grahame-Smith’s zombie version is better than Pride and Prejudice in its original form, but if giving Grahame-Smith’s book to the more dubious readers gets more people introduced to Austen then that is certainly an idea we can defend!
Professor Michael Kramp of Lehigh University’s English department is the organizer of a new Jane Austen Book Club. Much as in the book of the same name (written by Karen Joy Fowler), the book club will take a different Austen novel to discuss during each book club monthly meeting, which will be chaired by a discussion leader with an academic perspective on each given text.
One of the aims of the club is to unite the Bethlehem community – the club is free and open to anyone and everyone. “I certainly hope to expose students, and the community as a whole, to the ways of which serious academics are studying Jane Austen,” Professor Kramp said. “I hope they’ll appreciate the community members who are no longer college students, but still maintain an interest, an importance interest, in literature. And, perhaps most importantly, I hope the book club and symposium highlight and emphasize the important public role that literature plays in society.”
A Marvellous Review From An Austen Baker
Every so often we get a review of one of our products that’s a little bit different. The below review is just such a one of these and, as it brought a big smile to the faces of all of us at the Jane Austen News when we read it, we wanted to share it with you too.
“I like Jane Austen, Mr. Darcy, and cookies, so it seemed reasonable for me to purchase the 3D Jane Austen Cookie Cutter and the Mr. Darcy Cookie Cutter. Nay, not only reasonable but a necessity–this is where the liking cookies part comes in. I located my favorite butter cookie recipe and went to work.
The Mr. Darcy cutter is straight forward: made of metal, a small silhouette, not too many nooks and crannies to stubbornly hold onto the dough. Easy does it!
The Jane Austen cutter is, however, more involved. It is made of plastic and has a lot of detail. I learned the trick quickly: if I rolled the dough out thinly, I had no sticking problem but also no feature details either; if the dough was rolled out too thickly, the author looked quite puffy and bits of the cookie gummed up the cutter. Getting the right thickness was the key. There was no sticking and the author could be seen in all her beauty. It also helped to flour the cutter between making impressions.
My friends and I are having a tea in May. I plan to make Jane Austen and Mr. Darcy cookies as one of my contributions. In the meantime, I am enjoying having Miss Austen and Mr. Darcy for tea at home.
(Why not try it yourself? The cutters are available here – and let us know how you get on!)
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