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So Odd a Mixture

Autism was not a recognised disorder in Jane Austen's lifetime, nor for well over a century after her death. However there were certainly people who had autism, and Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer proposes that Austen wrote about them, without knowing what it was that she was describing. So Odd a Mixture looks at eight seemingly diverse characters in Austen's classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, who display autistic traits. These characters - five in the Bennet family and three in the extended family of the Fitzwilliams - have fundamental difficulties with communication, empathy and theory of mind. Perhaps it is high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome that provides an explanation for some characters' awkward behaviour at crowded balls, their frequent silences or their tendency to lapse into monologues rather than truly converse with others. This fascinating book will provide food for thought for students and fans of Austen's classic novel, and for anyone interested in autism spectrum disorders.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1. Characters, Caricatures and Conversation. Part 1. Background. 2. Autism Spectrum Disorders for Janeites. 3. Pride and Prejudice for Autism Specialists. Part 2. The Bennet Family. 4. Mr Collins. 5. Mary Bennet. 6. Lydia Bennet. 7. Mr Bennet. 8. Mrs Bennet. Part 3. The Fitzwilliam Family. 9. Anne De Bourgh. 10. Lady Catherine De Bourgh. 11. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Part 4. Conclusion. 12. Happily Ever After? 13. How Did Jane Austen Know? References. Index.

About the Author

Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer is a speech language pathologist with 30 years' experience who is employed by the North Vancouver School District. She is also a member and guest speaker of the Jane Austen Society of North America so has a unique dual knowledge of both Austen and the autistic spectrum.


'This is a highly enjoyable and entertaining book which works on different levels and appeals to two distinct audiences. The Author has looked at the characters in Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austin, and posited a creditable theory that some are on the autistic spectrum. Taking each possibility in turn, she closely analysis their speech, actions and reactions in social situations and makes her arguments. She is knowledgeable about her subject, autism, having worked as a speech and language pathologist for thirty years, and obviously has a great love of Jane Austin. Each of her characters is shown to have either autistic traits or elements of Asperger's syndrome. -- GAP Good Autism Practice Jane Austen was an astute observer of people and relationships and she describes and obviously knew people who today could have been referred to a clinician for a diagnostic assessment for Asperger's syndrome. -- from the Foreword by Tony Attwood, author of Asperger's Syndrome and The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer has given us a treasure. We shall always appreciate these new insights into the personalities and behaviour of the people in the novel, and this reinforcement of our belief in the genius of Austen's characterizations. -- from the Foreword by Eileen Sutherland, former President of the Jane Austen Society of North America There is no doubt that this is an entertaining read -- Clinical Psychology Forum this is a very good book. -- Asperger United

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