Jane Austen Gets a Banknote, but the Quote Is a Bit Odd

It's unveiled on the 200th anniversary of her death, and some fans are unhappy
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2017 12:16 PM CDT
New Jane Austen Banknote Has a Curious Quote
The new 10-pound note, with Jane Austen.   (Bank of England)

Tuesday is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death, and Britain has marked the occasion by unveiling a new 10-pound note with her likeness. Austen thus becomes the first female author so honored in the UK, but the Guardian notes that Austen fans are raising their eyebrows at the accompanying quote: "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!" The problem is that it was spoken by a "deceitful" character named Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice. Bingley didn't actually believe the words she was spouting—she was trying to impress Mr. Darcy, who was reading at the time. So is the choice a "massive gaffe," as the Birmingham Mail suggests, or is it a deceptively subtle one, as a post at the Spectator posits? Maybe time will tell. More Austen coverage:

  • Best characters: The Telegraph rates no fewer than 50 Austen characters, culminating with Emma Woodhouse from Emma: "It's testament to Austen's genius that Emma is so real, so annoying, and so damn likable despite it all." Meanwhile, USA Today suggests that Colin Firth's role as Mr. Darcy in a BBC adaption has done wonders in regard to creating modern fans.
  • Best novel? Modern writers make the case for their favorite Austen novel in the Guardian. And while the usual suspects appear, Hilary Mantel argues that Austen's teenage efforts, including Jack and Alice, are templates of sorts for the classics to follow.
  • Word choices: So why has Austen endured? An analysis at the New York Times tries to suss it out by analyzing her word choices and plotting them against those of other writers. One nugget is that she used "intensifying words" such as "very," "much," and "so" more than most, which the study links to a key trait of her writing: irony.
  • Risque: Austen was a "lot raunchier than you think," at least based on her teenage notebooks, notes the BBC among its six Austen insights. They speak of alcohol and "sexual misdemeanor."
  • Favorite lines: The Atlantic rounds some up, including, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
  • Her politics? Good luck with that. Many of her letters and personal papers were burned after her death, making it hard to figure out her views, notes a post at Vox. It digs into two new books trying to get answers.
  • Love advice: A post at Verily says Austen's lessons remain relevant today, and it digs into eight of them, including: "How he treats others matters."
(More Jane Austen stories.)

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