Let it be known: Acclaimed author Jane Austen was not afraid to trash the work of lesser authors. An 1812 letter penned by the celebrated novelist, skewering a book by one of her contemporaries, sold for £162,500 ($209,300) at Sotheby’s London on July 11.
The missive was addressed to Austen’s niece, Anna Lefroy. In it, Austen writes unsparingly of Rachel Hunter’s gothic novel Lady Maclairn, the Victim of Villainy, calling it “most tiresome and prosy.” Despite the volume’s shortcomings, aunt and niece took great pleasure in reading the melodramatic, sensationalist, clichéd text. Apparently, so-bad-it’s-good is not a modern phenomenon.
“Austen hugely enjoyed ridiculing other women writers and their improbable, sentimental and gothic plots,” Janet Todd, editor of Cambridge University Press’s edition of Austen’s complete works, told the Guardian. “She knew well her own literary powers—and probably learned a good deal of what not to do by reading the interminable romances and effusions of contemporary authors.”
- from Artnet News