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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Department of weird

We Janeites like to say that our favorite author is everywhere, but some days you just can’t believe where she turns up.

An informative and interesting article in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper last week tackled a favorite horror movie trope, the creepy idea that recipients of transplanted organs mysteriously acquire the personality traits of the donors.

The science behind this idea is, apparently, pretty much nil, but that doesn’t stop some organ recipients from speculating. Naturally, this paragraph caught my eye:

“Then there is Cheryl Johnson, a mother-of-one from Preston. After undergoing a kidney transplant in 2007, she ditched the trashy books she once preferred and instead started reading Jane Austen and Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. The then 37-year-old said she believed she developed her highbrow taste for literature from her unknown donor.”

I don’t know about you, but I would not say that my love of Jane Austen resides in my kidneys. Brain–yes. Heart–well, yes, but only on the level of metaphor. Kidneys–definitely not. Plus I’ve never been a Dostoevsky fan.


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