Books

Jane Austen banknote ‘blunder’ boggles bibliophiles

A new £10 note featuring Jane Austen, which marks the 200th anniversary of Austen's death, during the unveiling at Winchester Cathedral, England, Tuesday. The inclusion of a quote about reading from a deceitful character trying to impress a potential beau has some bibliophiles up in arms.
A new £10 note featuring Jane Austen, which marks the 200th anniversary of Austen's death, during the unveiling at Winchester Cathedral, England, Tuesday. The inclusion of a quote about reading from a deceitful character trying to impress a potential beau has some bibliophiles up in arms. The Associated Press

Jane Austen would have hated it. No, wait, she would have found the irony delicious.

A new £10 banknote unveiled Tuesday by the Bank of England honoring the author, who died in 1817, has some bibliophiles up in arms over the inclusion of a quotation from one of her best-known works.

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” reads the quote from “Pride and Prejudice.” It seems fitting, except Austen fans point out it’s spoken in the book by Caroline Bingley, a deceitful and widely reviled character who hates books but pretends to love literature to try to woo Mr. Darcy, a potential beau. (It doesn’t work).

Austen fans were quick to point out the inconsistency. “Should we ask a Jane Austen expert for a good quote? Nah, just ctrl+F for ‘reading’ in Pride & Prejudice,” wrote one on Twitter.

Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, defended the selection, reports the National Post.

“It’s two things; it captures much of her spirit, that is the quote, you can read it straight, there is no enjoyment like reading, and we agree with that,” Carney said. “If you know her work, you can enjoy the irony of that, it draws out some of the aspects of her social satire, it works on many levels.”

Others also found the irony delightful, with some suggesting Austen would have approved.

The new note, unveiled Tuesday on the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death, goes into circulation Sept. 14. Along with the quote, it features images of Austen and one of her most beloved characters, Elizabeth Bennet, also from “Pride and Prejudice.”

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