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ASU English scholar sheds light on Jane Austen letters


February 12, 2015

Devoney Looser, of Arizona State University's Department of English, and her colleague Ruth Knezevich, of the University of Missouri, have discovered previously unpublished historic letters that shed light on the life of novelist Jane Austen.

The letters were published this month in the journal Modern Philology, along with an article the researchers wrote providing insight into the significance of these written artifacts.

The letters, written by Austen's brother Charles, describe what Looser and Knezevich argue is likely a humorous innuendo involving a "jar of pickles."

The letters also provide evidence of a connection between Charles Austen and two lauded novelists, sisters Jane Porter and Anna Maria, who were fans of Jane Austen.

In an article published Feb. 10 in the New York Times, Looser explains, “These letters show that well-traveled Englishmen could discuss famous author-sisters and West Indian madams almost in the same breath,” she wrote. “It ought to make us wonder whether Charles Austen’s support of his sister’s literary career had an impact on his interactions with women who ran businesses of a very different kind.”

Article source: New York Times

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