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Reviews

"A major new work by Janine Barchas, an outstanding critic both of Jane Austen and of book history. The Lost Books of Jane Austen is cogent and persuasive."

"This ferociously researched book proves that a fresh set of methods can teach us something new about even this much-studied author. Barchas's innovatively defined evidence base steers a middle course between traditional interest in letters, diaries, and published criticism as sources of reception history, and the interest in kitsch collectibles and fan fiction that began several decades ago."

"Before Jane Austen was great, she was popular, Janine Barchas contends in this original, often audacious study. Thanks to Barchas's tremendous talents as book historian and book sleuth, we have new tools with which to assess that popularity and a new model of how to write reception history."

"In this groundbreaking, exquisitely researched, and stunningly illustrated book, Janine Barchas uncovers the unsung and ordinary editions—the 'lost' books—that profoundly shaped Austen's afterlife and evolving literary reputation. The Lost Books of Jane Austen proves once and for all that accounts of the once-forgotten Austen, the elite Austen, and the chick-lit Austen are perfectly partial. It's absolutely delightful to discover, thanks to Barchas, all that we've missed."

"Janine Barchas's new book makes a fascinating breakthrough in print history, opening up a fresh 'everyday' history of publishing and reading that goes far beyond elite publishers and libraries. Her visually resplendent study is based on an innovative research method in which Ebay auctions and private collections count as much as any traditional print archive. A scholarly performance not to be missed."

"Janine Barchas demonstrates that literary works are canonized not by first editions, but by cheap reprints. She has tracked down tattered Victorian volumes of Jane Austen, the ephemeral publications through which Austen reached a mass audience. This is a strikingly innovative approach to the history of reading, which illuminates how popular books become Great Books."

"Barchas is indeed the ultimate Austen book hunter, and we are the grateful recipients of her obsession."

"Over the last 25 years, amid the releases of various screen adaptations imagining new lives for her novels, the critical conversation around Jane Austen has been much occupied with the diverse responses of her diverse reading communities: academic and popular, elite and fan-based. Janine Barchas's exuberantly illustrated study, The Lost Books of Jane Austen, rides this wave with panache."

"Janine Barchas leads her readers on a journey into the bibliographically uncharted land of unidentified reprints and cast-off mass-marketed paperbacks to discover who was reading Austen and when and why. As a study of packaging and design, it is lavishly illustrated, but that is a mere bonus to the author's brilliant thesis and erudite delivery. Even if Austen isn't your cup of tea, this volume will change the way you think about publishers and readers. It's a landmark in the scholarship of book history."

"For all the Janeites on your list, reach for The Lost Books of Jane Austen... it's a fascinating, richly illustrated study of what we can learn from the numerous popular editions of Austen's novels that appeared during the 19th and 20th centuries."

"In addition to the vivid reproductions and Barchas' careful narrative of Austen's publishing history, The Lost Books of Jane Austen connects surviving cheap editions with their owners, and Barchas shares what she's found of their histories. It makes for an unexpectedly personal touch in this scholarly tome – one that makes you feel that any copy of Austen's work you have has value to history, and by extension, you do, too."

"... a beautifully illustrated exploration, indeed compendium, of the popular editions of Austen's novels that have appeared over the last two centuries... The lesson of this delicious book is that [Jane Austen] was even more popular for even longer with an even greater variety of readers than we ever thought."