Survival of the Wittiest

Jane Austen banknote

Jane Austen will replace Charles Darwin on Great Britain’s £10 note in 2017 reports the BBC.

Austen is described as the third author so honored, Shakespeare and Charles Dickens having preceded her. (Although Darwin wrote a famous book, too.) At any rate, she will be the first of the three named to have her work quoted on her note. Unfortunately, that is proving a mixed blessing —

The Guardian called the quotation about reading a “major blunder” by the Bank since it comes from the mouth of Caroline Bingley, “one of Austen’s most deceitful characters, a woman who has no interest in books at all,” who values them only for snob appeal and for a way to become closer to Mr. Darcy.

I like to imagine the Shakespeare and Dickens quotes they might have chosen.

Would it have brought the economy to a standstill if Shakespeare’s note admonished, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”?

On the other hand, the line Dickens wrote for Mr. Micawber is gospel —

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.


2 thoughts on “Survival of the Wittiest

  1. I can see one race track tout talking to another about a pay-off — “I gave him the Dickens, I did!”

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