Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jane Austen was not the elegant writer we thought she was….

Jane Austin (1775-1817) is renowned for her precise, exquisite prose. She completed six novels in her lifetime, two (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion) of which were published posthumously. She is widely celebrated as a supreme stylist - a writer of perfectly polished sentences. According to Austen's brother Henry: "everything came finished from her pen."

But according to research from Oxford University English professor Kathryn Sutherland, this seems to be a myth. Professor Sutherland, an Austen authority, studied Austin’s unpublished manuscripts that gave her "a more intimate appreciation" of the author's talents.

The manuscripts reveal that Austen was an experimental and innovative writer, constantly trying new things. But the 1,100 handwritten pages of unpublished work also show that she broke most of the rules for writing good English. "In particular, the high degree of polished punctuation and epigrammatic style we see in 'Emma' and 'Persuasion' is simply not there," Sutherland said.

Letters from Austen's publisher reveal that editor William Gifford was heavily involved in editing Austen’s work.

Gifford was a poet and critic in his own right. He worked for Austen’s second publisher, John Murray. Gifford did not edit earlier books such as "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride and Prejudice," that are much closer to Austen's manuscript style.

Jane Austen was obviously not great at spelling or correct use of punctuation. One of her grammatical errors was the inability to master the ‘i before e’ rule and her works were littered with distant ‘veiws’ and characters who ‘recieve’ guests. She also wrote in a ‘regional accent’: ‘tomatoes’ as ‘tomatas’ and ‘arraroot’ for ‘arrowroot’.

Austen's handwritten manuscripts can be found at http://www.janeausten.ac.uk.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The reality star that snagged a book deal

Many writers are struggling to get their novel published. Especially landing a deal with one of the major publishers is not easy – unless you are a uncouth reality starlet.

Jersey Shore” is one of the many reality shows of the “watching train wreck” variety. One of its starlets is a short, chubby, troll-like creature that goes by the nickname Snooki. The snookster admitted that she only read two books in her whole life:
Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" and Nicholas Sparks' "Dear John."

(Don’t let the picture fool you, it’s unlikely she is really reading "The 48 Laws of Power")

This poses the question what she was at school when the teacher introduced the class to American literature. (Pity Mark Twain is not around to comment)

Simon and Schuster's Gallery Books is going to publish her work of fictionA Shore Thing”. Well, that’s good news for her ghost writer/editor – they have their work cut out. According to a press release, the book will revolve around “a girl looking for love on the boardwalk (one full of big hair, dark tans, and fights galore).” Yawn.

Miss Snooki is not the first reality celeb to pen a book. Lauren Conrad appeared "The Hills" and "Laguna Beach", who penned two successful novels that made it to the New York Times Best-Sellers list.

The Snook-novel will hit stores in January 2011. The intriguing question: who will buy and read it? How many bookworms watch reality shows? My prediction? It will end up heavily discounted at Costco.

O tempora! O mores!