Tuesday, December 1, 2009

a woman's wit

If you are in New York this winter, and need a respite from all of the holiday madness, go spend a few minutes with Miss Austen at the Morgan Library: A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy, through 14 March 2010 (the NYT review here). On view are handwritten manuscripts, letters, bits of ephemera, prints and drawings ~ which collected together begin to give us a portrait of the author herself. My personal favorite is a letter (pictured above) written by Austen to her 8-year-old niece, in which the words were written backwards, thus presenting the poor girl with quite a puzzle. See how you do:

YM RAED YSSAC,

I hsiw uoy a yppah wen raey. Ruoy xis snisuoc emac ereh yadretsey, dna dah hcae a eceip of ekac. Siht si elttil Yssac's yadhtrib, dna ehs si eerht sraey dlo. Knarf sah nugeb gninrael Nital. Ew deef eht Nibor yreve gninrom. Yllas netfo seriuqne retfa uoy. Yllas Mahneb sah tog a wen neerg nwog. Teirrah Thgink semoc yreve yad ot daer ot Tnua Ardnassac. Doog eyb, ym raed Yssac.

Tnua Ardnassac sdnes reh tseb evol, dna os ew od lla.

Ruoy etanoitceffa Tnua, ENAJ NETSUA

And while you are at the Morgan, you can also see Dickens’ original manuscript for A Christmas Carol!

(images: Jane Austen, letter to Cassandra Austen; and William Blake, Portrait of Mrs. Q [Mrs. Harriet Quentin], 1820, both courtesy of the Morgan Library)

11 comments:

Blue said...

The Morgan Library is on our itinerary for the week of Christmas - we usually spend that holiday in New York. The backwards written piece is easy to read once you get used to the idea. There's always something really interesting on your blog.

Anne said...

That is charming! I don't have an aunt, so perhaps I will choose Miss Austen as my imaginary one.

little augury said...

Delightful! I would love to see this and especially the Dickens. Always love & admire the script in these too. la

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

One more reason for us to adore our dear Jane. Thanks for sharing that with me.
All the very best.

pve design said...

Wish you were here to go with me. I must think of this as a gift to me during the holiday hustle and bustle. I think a love letter written backwards to my husband will make a wonderful gift!
pve

Anonymous said...

!Yrrev Nuf MDK

home before dark said...

!sey A nice variation on pig latin.

Janet said...

Blue ~ oh, enjoy, enjoy!
The city at Christmastime is so wonderful.

pve ~ I wish I could go too...what a lovely outing that would be! Perhaps after the new year. I think the idea of a backwards love note is wonderful...something to treasure forever.

Cheers all!

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

Did you see the piece in Wednesday's NYT suggesting that Austen died of Tuberculosis rather than Addison's disease? It is just a brief on the inside of the Arts section front.

le style et la matière said...

Lovely post - another sign of JA's playfulness. I too think it's a good idea to take up, but I think I'd like to do it with a very important message. Funny how the brain gets with it quickly enough -then hesitates with daer and raed!

Inkslinger said...

Oh, if only! New York, Austen, and Christmas . . . a dream holiday. Alas.

Love the backwards letter! Too fun!