I came late to Jane Austen. I didn’t read them until I was on vacation in Hawaii on year. I bought a huge book that had all of her novels in it. Then I read them all back to back. Perhaps not the best way to appreciate them but it did allow me to fall in love with her writing. That’s why I was thrilled to explore her works in The Lost Books of Jane Austen by Janine Barchas. I thank TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy at no charge for my honest review.
About The Lost Books of Jane Austen:
Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (October 8, 2019)
In the nineteenth century, inexpensive editions of Jane Austen’s novels targeted to Britain’s working classes were sold at railway stations, traded for soap wrappers, and awarded as school prizes. At just pennies a copy, these reprints were some of the earliest mass-market paperbacks, with Austen’s beloved stories squeezed into tight columns on thin, cheap paper. Few of these hard-lived bargain books survive, yet they made a substantial difference to Austen’s early readership. These were the books bought and read by ordinary people.
Packed with nearly 100 full-color photographs of dazzling, sometimes gaudy, sometimes tasteless covers, The Lost Books of Jane Austen is a unique history of these rare and forgotten Austen volumes. Such shoddy editions, Janine Barchas argues, were instrumental in bringing Austen’s work and reputation before the general public. Only by examining them can we grasp the chaotic range of Austen’s popular reach among working-class readers.
Informed by the author’s years of unconventional book hunting, The Lost Books of Jane Austen will surprise even the most ardent Janeite with glimpses of scruffy survivors that challenge the prevailing story of the author’s steady and genteel rise. Thoroughly innovative and occasionally irreverent, this book will appeal in equal measure to book historians, Austen fans, and scholars of literary celebrity.
ALL PURCHASE LINKS BELOW ARE AFFILIATE LINKS WHICH MEANS IF YOU BUY ANYTHING THROUGH THEM I WILL RECEIVE A SMALL COMMISSION (AT NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE TO YOU)
About the Author:
Janine Barchas is the Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professor of English Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity and Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel. She is also the creator behind What Jane Saw (www.whatjanesaw.org).
There was a time when books weren’t so readily available. When owning a book or books was a sign of wealth. Fortunately printing methods changed and books became more affordable but as with everything affordable is always relative. The Lost Books of Jane Austen explores the publishing of Ms. Austen’s novels and how they secured her reputation. It wasn’t due to those fancy leather bound books found in the libraries in big manor houses but rather due to the paperboard or “pulp” books published and available to the mass population.
The book is a fascinating look at not only the books and their myriad covers and editions – and the covers are works of art in some cases and in others they look like the illustrated equivalent of a tabloid photo – but also of the owners. Using geneological records Ms. Barchas traces the ownership of several books to tell the books’ stories. It’s truly interesting to learn how a book passed from hand to hand and how important it was even if it was an inexpensive paperboard novel.
This book would be perfect for anyone who loves Jane Austen and her novels. It would make an excellent gift for any Austen lover on your list.