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Posted May 31, 2009
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Splendid nonsense! A youthful writer in the making
If you have consumed all of Austen's major and minor novels, this reissue by Oxford University Press of their 1998 edition is an enticing treasure. In Catharine and Other Writings, we are introduced not only to a writer in the making, but a collection of prayers, poems and unfinished fragments of novels written in maturity and rarely reprinted. As with the other Oxford editions of Jane Austen's works reissued in the past year, this edition contains excellent supplemental material: a short biography of Austen, notes on the text, a select bibliography, a chronology of Austen's life, textural notes, insightful explanatory notes and a superb introduction by prominent Austen scholar Margaret Anne Doody that details the inspiration from her family and her environment that influenced and formed Austen's creative mind.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
"Jane Austen was not a child as a writer when she wrote these early pieces. She possessed a sophistication rarely matched in viewing and using her own medium. She not only understood the Novel, she took the Novel apart, as one might take apart a clock, to see how it works - and put it back together, but it was no longer the same clock. Her genius at an early age is as awe-inspiring as Mozart's." pp xxxv
What I found so engaging in this collection was the lightness and comical devil-may-care freeness in Austen's youthful approach. It was like a rush of endorphin to a dour mood, taking you outside of your troubles and elevating you into a magical world of a youthful imaginings and farcical fancy. I have several favorites that I will re-read when I need a laugh, especially Love and Freindship, The Beautiful Cassandra and The History of England. Not all of the works are comical. When Winchester races is a verse written when Austen was mortally ill and dictated from her deathbed to her sister Cassandra three days before her death. It is her final work. A moralistic piece, it resurrects the ghost of St. Swinthin who curses the race goers for their sins of pleasure.
"When once we were buried you think we are gone
But behold me immortal!"
An interesting choice of subject for the last days of her life, and ironic in relation to what acclaim she has garnered since she has gone. Like St. Swinthin, Jane Austen is indeed immortal!
Laurel Ann, Austenprose