Academic journal article Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal

Message from the President

Academic journal article Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal

Message from the President

Article excerpt

The Washington, D.C. Region hosted the JASNA Annual General Meeting last October with the theme Emma at 200: "No One But Herself." Much of the intellectual fruit of that meeting is presented to you in this issue of Persuasions. Persuasions On-Line, vol. 37, no. 1, published in December on the JASNA website, also contains articles from this conference. Emma is a novel rich in the exploration of human behavior, a deep well from which readers and writers may draw sustenance.

These essays are diverse. Just a few of the tempting offerings include Elaine Bander's analysis of how and why we come to like the unlikely heroine of the novel, Anita Soloway's discussion of the darker side of life for Emma s characters, and Juliet McMaster's exposition of Emma's cleverness with words. The three 2017 plenary speakers--Bharat Tandon, Susan Allen Ford, and Juliette Wells--are also represented in this collection. Tandon's piece focuses on the invisible world--what is happening in and who inhabits the offstage environs of the novel; Ford's focuses on the books read by Robert Martin and Harriet Smith; Wells relates the history of the first American edition of Emma (1816), of which only six copies are known to exist.

Reflecting the excitement that all felt at the story of the first American Emma, someone in the audience at Wells's session suggested that JASNA members go on an extended treasure hunt for other copies of the book published by Matthew Carey in Philadelphia in 1816. Although it is unlikely our collective search will find another copy, it is a wonderful thought. Finding another copy of this edition of Emma would delight us all. But now, thanks to Wells, that we understand the poor quality of the paper and the binding of this edition, and add to that knowledge the fact that Jane Austen was unknown and unnamed in those volumes, it is no wonder that copies are so scarce. The Library of Congress does not own this edition of Emma, Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress was destroyed when the British burned Washington, D.C., in the War of 1812. In 1815, Thomas Jefferson offered his eclectic personal library of more than 6,000 volumes to the nation as a replacement. While Jefferson's collection included literature, the first American edition of Emma was not, of course, printed until the following year. I like to think that had Thomas Jefferson owned Emma a year earlier, we would have it now in the Library of Congress. …

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