“If you put Jane Austen‘s name in any programme name, it will be commissioned,” said Giles Coren on Radio 4’s Today programme when he went on the show to promote his new documentary I Hate Jane Austen (which aired on Sky Arts last week).
At the Jane Austen News we were unimpressed by his attacks on Jane, but happily David Baddiel – comedian, novelist, TV presenter and Austen fan – was there to defend her name. He did it so well that we thought we’d share his ripostes with you.
He did begin by reminding the listeners of the Today programme about Coren’s own, less than successful, writing career (he wrote a book called Winkler, which sold less than 800 copies when released in 2005 and picked up a gong at the Bad Sex Awards), but then he went on to champion the work of Jane.
She single-handedly created the modern English novel. Before her, novels were mad gothic fantasies. With Austen you get ironic narration, you get controlled point of view, you get transparency of focus. It’s the technique, it’s the style. Jane Austen in Emma has the first example in modern literature of a change of point of view.
All excellent points. Hurrah for Mr Baddiel!