Last week I posted in the usual places about the recent "literary fracas" raised by Kathryn Sutherland's comments on NPR confirming that the articles in various Brit publications quoting her were not offbase, and she really DID mean to suggest that the finished version of Emma had in some significant way been altered as the result of a certain Mr. Gifford's editorial interventions (has anyone made a transcription of what KS actually said on NPR?), and further that Jane Austen was not very adept at spelling, punctuation and the like.
I opined that Sutherland's comments, while ill advised, were not entirely a bad thing, because about a dozen of my NON Janeite friends had independently brought this news item to my attention. This suggests that it has gone more than a little viral, and that it is good for JA's name to be on the lips of intelligent folks generally--it might just cause them to take a closer look at JA than they previously had. I still adhere to that view.
Anyway, yesterday at the JASNA AGM in Portland (where I will be giving my talk in 3+ hours), not a single speaker failed to make some witty comment on the situation. And so I was not entirely surprised when I received an anonymous email early this morning from an anonymous someone calling herself "A Lady", in which she, evidently responding to my blog on this topic, had these memorable comments, which are obviously a reaction to Sutherland's claims, and which I pass along to you now:
"...the usual style of letter–writing among women is faultless, except in three particulars---a general deficiency of subject, a total inattention to stops, and a very frequent ignorance of grammar...I should no more lay it down as a general rule that women write better letters than men, than that they sing better duets, or draw better landscapes. In every power, of which taste is the foundation, excellence is pretty fairly divided between the sexes.”
To which I just fired off a reply as follows:
"Depend upon it, madam, Miss Austen did not do duets."
Writing Away From Home, c1780
18 hours ago