Jane Austen Manuscript Archive

In “Introduction to Poetics of the Archive,” Werner and Voss define the archive as “a space of pure knowledge” that has over time “revealed itself as an ideologically-charged space.” Perhaps going along with ideologically-charged is the state of being emotionally-charged.  The Jane Austen Manuscript Archive is a carefully aggregated archive of hand-written pieces by Austen herself, collected from various libraries and private collections. The manuscripts, spanning all the way from the writer’s teenage years to the end of her life, provide grand insight into Austen’s journey and development as a writer. This is evidence that the archive can become much more than just a place to store and preserve information. Depending on what it holds, it can start to have almost a life and personality of its own. As I looked at Jane Austen’s work preserved in her original handwriting, I felt a strange sense of nostalgia and awe—and this is coming from someone who in all honesty has never read any of Austen’s work.  It was not even the archived works, but my understanding of the significance of the archive itself that touched me. Something as simple as a collection of penciled words posthumously added another dimension to Jane Austen. It is incredible what the human desire to memorialize and learn can achieve.

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2 thoughts on “Jane Austen Manuscript Archive

  1. I would have to agree. The use of the digital archive has taken the original documents from Jane’s perspective and created a whole different one from the readers. Being able to virtually see the originality allows me to appreciate the archive. Also being a person who has not read Jane’s work, nor do I care to read anything like this. The fact that this archive has the history from the authors perspective makes it easier to read. I am usually a skeptic , but this is a unique way to experience the past.

  2. I agree with the theme you guys expressed that the digital archive created a whole new different level of reading Jane Austen’s works. Having a archive lists all the work Jane Austen has written makes easier for the person like “someone who in all honesty has never read any of Austen’s work” to get closer to her.

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