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Jane Austen's writing style may not be original, says academic

By Nairita Das

London, Oct 23 (ANI): An academic has claimed that novelist Jane Austen's elegant writing style may not be hers, but that of her editor.

Kathryn Sutherland, a professor in Oxford University, reached the conclusion while studying 1,100 original handwritten pages of Austen's unpublished writings.

"The manuscripts feature blots, crossing outs and a powerful counter-grammatical way of writing. The polished punctuation and epigrammatic style we see in Emma and Persuasion is simply not there," the BBC quoted Sutherland as saying.

Professor Sutherland of the Faculty of English Language and Literature claims her findings refute the notion of Austen as 'a perfect stylist' and states that someone else was 'heavily involved' in the editing process.

She believes that person to be William Gifford, an editor who worked for Austen's publisher John Murray II.

Letters between Austen's publisher and an editor who worked with him acknowledge the untidiness of her writing.

According to Professor Sutherland, they suggest it was the editor who then intervened to sharpen the prose of one of English Literature's most popular writers.

She also maintained that studying her unpublished manuscripts gave her 'a more intimate appreciation' of the author's talents.

"The manuscripts reveal Austen to be an experimental and innovative writer, constantly trying new things. They also show her to be even better at writing dialogue and conversation than the edited style of her published novels suggest," the professor explained.

Jane Austen (1775-1817) completed six novels in her lifetime, two of which were published posthumously. (ANI)

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