A remarkable piece of literary history sheds light on Austen’s reading preferences and writing process
An exceedingly rare copy of Isaac D’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature, featuring annotations by the iconic author Jane Austen, is set to be auctioned next month. This popular book, written by the father of British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, contains anecdotes and observations on history and literature, with several sections believed to be underlined by Austen herself. The volume offers a unique glimpse into Austen’s preoccupations as a reader and her process as a writer, making it a significant rediscovery in the literary world.
A Window into Austen’s Literary World
The annotated copy of Curiosities of Literature is a remarkable piece of history that provides valuable insights into Jane Austen’s reading preferences and the themes that influenced her novels. Dr. Kalika Sands, an international specialist at Sotheby’s, describes the book as a major rediscovery and emphasizes the significance of its appearance at auction.
The Annotations and Themes
The annotations in the volume, believed to be made by Austen, highlight sections that resonate with the themes of her novels. Notably, the underlined passages include topics such as “On the Fair-Sex Having No Souls,” “The Absent Man,” “Grotius,” “On the Adjective ‘Pretty’,” “Astrology,” “English Ladies,” and “Spanish Monks.” These selections offer intriguing connections to Austen’s own life and work.
The Significance of “English Ladies”
One of the annotated sections, “English Ladies,” quotes Gilles Ménage and discusses the prevalence of clergymen’s daughters and wives in public places in England. This passage holds particular significance as Austen’s father was a clergyman, and each of her novels features a clergyman character. These characters often provide the heroine with economic and domestic stability, reflecting the societal norms and aspirations of the time.
The Rarity of Austen’s Annotations
The copy of Curiosities of Literature with Austen’s annotations has been privately owned since the 1940s, making it a unique and unseen treasure. This upcoming auction marks the first time that the public will have the opportunity to view and potentially acquire this extraordinary piece of literary history.
The Auction and Estimated Value
On December 8th, the annotated copy of Curiosities of Literature will be auctioned alongside a full suite of first editions of all of Austen’s published works. The book is expected to attract significant attention from collectors and Austen enthusiasts, with an estimated value ranging between $100,000 and $150,000 (£79,682 and £119,522).
The upcoming auction of the annotated copy of Isaac D’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature, owned and annotated by Jane Austen, offers a rare and valuable glimpse into the reading preferences and writing process of one of the most beloved authors in literary history. The annotations, particularly the section on “English Ladies,” provide intriguing connections to Austen’s personal life and the themes that permeate her novels. This extraordinary piece of literary history is sure to captivate collectors and Austen enthusiasts alike, as it sheds light on the inner workings of one of the greatest literary minds of all time.