The Lost Books of Jane Austen is, first of all, a beautiful book, an homage to books in all their forms more than even to Austen’s popularity. The “lost books” of the title are not rediscovered manuscripts, newly unearthed juvenilia, or simply neglected minor works but the rarely collected, cheap editions of her six completed novels that have been left out of previous bibliographies. Janine Barchas’s meticulous research on neglected editions of Austen’s novels draws attention more generally to the cheap, popular, much-read, or what we might now often term—especially when it comes to reselling or regifting items—preloved books around us. It thus encourages us to rethink book history as much as the standard accounts of Austen’s canonization. Austen’s fiction owes much of its general popularity, Barchas argues, to affordable texts often printed on cheap paper, filled with advertisements, and even in...

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