File under: Say it ain't so

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Oct 23 20:45:05 UTC 2010

If the only shortcoming of JA's ms. compared to the published
version were her confusion about every English speaker's second-favorite
"grammatical" rule (after "Don't split an infinitive!"), journalists would
crow about what an illiterate she "really" was.

Cf. the superstition that George Washington wore ridiculous wooden teeth and
that they made him look chronically grumpy.

As is well known, Percy Shelley edited Mary Shelley's _Frankenstein_.  I can
remember graduate students complaining that the very suggestion was a libel.

Everybody needs a good editor. (I believe that Shakespeare's was
either Francis Bacon or the King James Bible team; am working on a final


On Sat, Oct 23, 2010 at 4:28 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: File under: Say it ain't so
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Another article.
> By Anita Singh, Arts Correspondent.
> Although here the author doesn't know her grammar from her spelling:
> "Amongst Austen's grammatical misdemeanours was an inability to
> master the 'i before e' rule. Her manuscripts are littered with
> distant 'veiws' and characters who 'recieve' guests."
> I note that this article says "The manuscript for Persuasion, the
> only one of her novels to survive in its unedited form, looks very
> different from the finished product;" and "Sadly, the manuscripts for
> Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma, her most famous
> novels, were destroyed after being set in print."  Are Sutherland's
> conclusions based on just one novel?  (Letters, after all, are not
> generally written for publication, with the same care as book
> manuscripts.  Just read some of my email!)
> And I see Persuasion was posthumously published!  Raises some
> interesting questions about just what the extant manuscript
> represents (a beta release?), and whether and what kind of editing
> was present for the earlier novels.
> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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