I got a call from one of my good non-Janeite friends, a true voluntary spy serving beyond the call of duty, saying that she heard something on Fresh Air today about Jane Austen and grammar, and I wondered whether NPR had decided to re-air the Sutherland interview from two weeks ago. That sounded bad, given that the interview had left the non Janeite listeners with all sorts of misinformation, worst of all the implication that Sutherland deliberately created, that Gifford had been messing with ALL of Jane Austen's novels, even though we know for certain (from Gifford's own letters to Murray, the publisher of Emma) that Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, AND Mansfield Park had ALL been published already before Gifford had even been contacted about playing some sort of editing role.
However, this time NPR hits a home run, and mitigates the damage done in the interview, because Nunberg mostly gets it right, even if he also seems unaware of Gifford coming late to the Austen party. And he also gets the link for Jane Austen's manuscripts out there to a bunch of different NPR listeners, which is also a good thing.
Here is the link at NPR, for those who want to listen to Nunberg's commentary, or read the transcript of his sensible, unsensationalized remarks.
And to answer Nunberg's question, the punctuation does NOT matter, but people not hearing misinformation about Jane Austen DOES matter, very much, to Janeites, so it's good to get some public clarity here!
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