So great is our fascination with the arts and letters of Jane Austens era that we may overlook the dazzling array of technological innovations of the Regency. Venetia Murray writes:
Are Jane Austen and the computer compatible concepts? Can we imagine Jane Austen at her elegant writing desk flipping open her laptop to dash off e-mails to her far-flung brothers, family, and friends, not to mention "My dear Cassandra"? Would she have embraced Spellcheck?
My colleague Jean Long of Dayton speculates: "Imagine the research she could have done! No need to inquire whether hedgerows were the habit of a province: off she could have gone to the Hampshire Web site, asked the Web master and gotten her reply with nary a pause of busy fingertips. Keeping up with her publisher would certainly have saved her father and brother no end of effort. No more circulating library for that lady! She could have downloaded the latest gothic novel and shared it, page by page, with her mother in the evenings."
Would Jane Austen have had to wait till brother Henry showed up to master new software or download an upgrade? No, Edith Lank of Rochester has decided, "she was so deft that shed have taken to it all quite easily." As for Cassandra, who denied posterity so much from her sisters correspondence, Edith suggests that she could have deleted single (disparaging) sentences about the in-laws on her computer "so that we wouldnt have had to lose entire messages."
In this contextand spiritJASNA introduces Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal On-line to advance our mission, which is "to foster among the widest number of readers the study, appreciation and understanding of Jane Austens works, her life and her genius." We welcome to our Web site fellow enthusiasts, especially students and other young readers, and cordially invite them to join us.
Elsa A. Solender
Murray, Venetia. An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England, New York: Penguin, 1998.