A very modern MS
A week in books
Saturday 01 April 1995
Dr Nanda Brookenham, a lecturer in English at Sussex University and long- standing authority on Austen, called the discovery of the new MS "terrifically exciting. Many Jane-ites have suspected that the trail did not end with the discovery of Sanditon [the fragment Austen was working on when she died]. Lady Catriona shows the mind of a young and unusually spirited Jane, in some respects a `teenager', though she would not have recognised the word, of course. Its setting and idiom will raise a few eyebrows in the academy, mark my words."
Indeed. The novella deals, more explicitly than the rest of the Austen oeuvre, with the rituals of flirtation and romance, with the theme of sexual promiscuity before marriage, even with - unimaginable to more old- fashioned Austen readers - the trauma of single parenthood in the repressive society of the 1790s. Its heroine, Kate, is a well-born and credulous innocent (a proto-type of Harriet Smith from Emma) who visits, aged 17, her Aunt Sadie's seedy home in Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Appalled by the poverty of her surroundings, the heavy drinking of her opium-addicted Aunt and the foul language of her coarse-grained cousins, Mick and Keith (the latter known as "Mister Thrice-Knightly"), Kate is forced to take part in degrading rituals that ridicule her aristocratic lineage and abuse her person (hence the title). By the end, however, she persuades them to lead judicious and mannerly lives, and learns to be less hasty in judging the worth of others.
The literary world will naturally be divided about the worth of this unusual text. Students should order their copies without delay from: Editions Fou d'Avril, 323 rue de L'Odon, Paris, France.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Paris charity auction staged to save the ancient city of Tyre
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
A very timely Great Train Robbery and a frantic 24 Hours in A&E among the highlights
Geoffrey Macnab: The Wolf of Wall Street's account of white-collar excess is A Rake’s Progress on steroids
arts + entsThe 'Friends' actor on his new role as campaigner on addiction issues
Arts & Ents blogs
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, film review
Brian Griffin returns: Cartoon dog back from the dead in Family Guy Christmas episode
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
Nymphomaniac, film review: 'Despite the surreal sex scenes this is a serious drama'
The Wolf of Wall Street, film review: 'A lurid, profanity bespattered movie'
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
- 4 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- 5 Status: Wet - Woman walks off a pier while checking Facebook on her phone
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