Word of the Day: Esemplasy

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(n.); unification; to make into one; the unifying power of imagination; accredited to Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

“Austen is far from superficial … Her books are intimate and compelling. She has a voice that somehow seems to chime even with a modern sensibility. She is, in essence, timeless.

–Alexander McCaul Smith, from “The Secret of the Jane Austen Industry”

As Smith points out in his short but eloquent essay for the Wall Street Journal, there is something remarkable about the enduring appeal of the Jane Austen novel: she may be one among many so-called classic authors, yet “Tolstoy, Dickens and Proust are all remembered, and still read, but they do not have countless fans throughout the world who reread their books each year”—nor are their novels not only revisited, but reworked and refashioned in modern times as thoroughly as Austen has been. There is something compelling in Austen’s writing that consistently draws together and ignites the imaginations of her audience, generation after generation, a “something” that Smith attempts to pinpoint. The power of literature to bring unlikely audiences together is explored again in Stephen Greenblatt’s New York Review of Books essay about delivering a lecture at the first Iranian Shakespeare Congress, in which he ponders “how Shakespeare managed to make his work a place in which we can all meet.”


Sara Menuck is currently pursuing BA in English & Professional Writing at York University, Toronto, without being very professional at all. Having interned with a variety of small press publications, she currently works as a prose reader for The Winter Tangerine Review, a department editorial assistant, and, in her free time, a teacher of music to very small, adorable children. More from this author →