Thursday, 22 April 2010

Jane Austen: Selected Letters

This is probably one of the best gifts I ever received from Sheep. Now, at first glance, Sheep is not a very complimentary name to give to a friend. I suspect, however, that she will not mind terribly. For a start, her name begins with an S. On top of that, it's her fault for moving to New Zealand, which many people associate with sheep. Thirdly, she's Christian and very devoted. As Jesus is the Lamb of God, sheep must be highly valued animals to Christians. Also (and this really isn't complimentary), I consider the blind acceptance of belief that most adherents to organised religions display to be very sheeplike.

Anyway, this is a collection of some of Jane Austen's letters. It's not all the surviving letters that have ever been found (I wouldn't mind Deirdre Le Faye's volume of those, actually, but I've never yet seen it in South Africa). Most of Austen's letters were destroyed by her sister, Cassandra, as she felt they were too private for public consumption. I don't blame her and I doubt not that it was what Austen herself would have wanted, but I do lament it.

The letters give some insight into Austen's life and personality. It's an interesting read and highly recommended (unless you can get your hands on the complete collection, in which case you'll have all of these as well).

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