Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jane Austen's writing style might not be hers + Thoughts on being unmarried

Jane AustenThe elegant writing style of novelist Jane Austen may have been the work of her editor, an academic has claimed.

Professor Kathryn Sutherland of Oxford University reached her conclusion while studying 1,100 original handwritten pages of Austen's unpublished writings.

The manuscripts, she states, feature blots, crossing outs and "a powerful counter-grammatical way of writing".

She adds: "The polished punctuation and epigrammatic style we see in Emma and Persuasion is simply not there."

Professor Sutherland of the Faculty of English Language and Literature claims her findings refute the notion of Austen as "a perfect stylist".

It suggests, she continues, that someone else was "heavily involved" in the editing process.

She believes that person to be William Gifford, an editor who worked for Austen's publisher John Murray II. ...

Professor Sutherland, an Austen authority, said studying her unpublished manuscripts gave her "a more intimate appreciation" of the author's talents.

The manuscripts, she went on, "reveal Austen to be an experimental and innovative writer, constantly trying new things."

They also show her "to be even better at writing dialogue and conversation than the edited style of her published novels suggest." ...

via BBC News - Jane Austen's style might not be hers, academic claims.

Here are the opening lines of Pride and Prejudice, which Austen started writing in 1796, available free to read on line.
Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Chapter 1

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

As a single man in possession of a good fortune who has never been married, I'd point out that fewer people are getting married these days (Oct 2006 statistics):
image descriptionMarried couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades as a proportion of American households, have finally slipped into a minority, according to an analysis of new census figures by The New York Times.

The American Community Survey, released this month by the Census Bureau, found that 49.7 percent, or 55.2 million, of the nation’s 111.1 million households in 2005 were made up of married couples — with and without children — just shy of a majority and down from more than 52 percent five years earlier.

The numbers by no means suggests marriage is dead or necessarily that a tipping point has been reached. The total number of married couples is higher than ever, and most Americans eventually marry. But marriage has been facing more competition. A growing number of adults are spending more of their lives single or living unmarried with partners, and the potential social and economic implications are profound.

via NYT

The number of married couples continues to fall, slowly. The survey for 2009 shows that 49.1 percent of households are married.

I joke that I am "the illegible bachelor" because I'm hard to read. I like having a girlfriend, but I've never met a woman who really "gets" me (pun on being single intended).

There are about 20 million single women in the USA in my age range right now according to CensusScope. Add these filters, however: An IQ in the  top 2% of country, musically gifted, emotionally stable, financially responsible, healthy, attractive, hot body, not religious, philosophical, interested in science and politics, loves learning, into science fiction, somewhat geeky and awkward ... and madly in love with me... add those filters and my marriage prospects are down to ... a certain number of compromises.

Nevertheless, I'm a life-long believer in the pursuit of happiness, a diurnal optimist.

No comments: