"A word after a word after a word is power" - Margaret Atwood


A blog for readers and writers

A blog about the stories we tell each other and how we tell them...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Austen and her editor

There were reports in the news today that the elegant style of Jane Austen was largely down to her Editor but read the story in full and a different picture emerges.
Professor Kathryn Sutherland of Oxford University has looked at 1,100 original handwritten pages of Austen's unpublished writings. She says that the manuscripts contain blots, crossing outs and a powerful counter-grammatical way of writing.  Absent was the  "The polished punctuation".
It's rather a relief to know that Austen made mistakes, took risks, played with language and ideas. Perfectly placed semi colons are important, but it takes nothing away from the writer if someone else helps put them in the right place. More worrying is Sutherland's assertions that the manuscripts show Austen "to be even better at writing dialogue and conversation than the edited style of her published novels suggest." Semi colons, only editors!

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