Letter: Unromantic Jane

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The Independent Online
From Ms Christine Kenyon Jones

Sir: Rhoda Koenig claims (Another View: "Why puritan America just loves Jane Austen", 23 January) that Austen's dialogue is "free of allusions to such arcana as the poetry of Byron". In fact, Anne Elliot and Captain Benwick discuss Byron's and Walter Scott's poetry in Persuasion, lightly satirising Byron's orientalism as they puzzle over the unpronounceability of The Giaour.

As far as I am aware, Scott's and Byron's is the only English "Romantic" poetry to be mentioned in the novels. Austen preferred the older generations, particularly William Cowper, and Benwick's partiality for Scott and Byron is used to indicate his rather shallow sentimentality, which leads him to form an attachment to Louisa Musgrove while he is still apparently in deep mourning for his previous fiancee.

Which all goes to show the acuteness of Austen's social vision, even when applied to matters literary.

Yours faithfully,

Christine Kenyon Jones

London, SW4

23 January