Deborah Yaffe

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Voting Austen onto the island

By Deborah Yaffe, Nov 19 2015 02:00PM

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister – in other words, the head of Scotland’s semi-autonomous government – is a famously patriotic Scot. She leads the Scottish National Party, campaigned hard last year in favor of the failed referendum promoting independence from the UK, and played a Robert Burns song at her wedding.


But if she were stranded on a desert island, the book she would take along with her would be the complete works of the quintessentially English Jane Austen. Or so Sturgeon said recently on “Desert Island Discs,” the venerable and beloved BBC radio program on which celebrities choose the eight records – and one book – they would want to bring along if they were marooned. (Every castaway also gets two freebie books: the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare.)


Why pick Jane Austen? Sturgeon didn’t say. But isn’t it obvious? Clearly, Sturgeon must have run across the “Jane Austen for YES” Twitter account, established last fall, which gave the world the hitherto unsuspected news of Austen’s support for Scottish independence. (I blogged about it here.) The account seems to have gone dark last December, not long after wishing Austen a happy 239th birthday, but the Scots have long memories.


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