Emma (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Emma (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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by Jane Austen

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Emma, by Jane Austen, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

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Emma, by Jane Austen, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Emma Woodhouse is a wealthy, exquisite, and thoroughly self-deluded young woman who has "lived in the world with very little to distress or vex her."

Jane Austen exercises her taste for cutting social observation and her talent for investing seemingly trivial events with profound moral significance as Emma traverses a gentle satire of provincial balls and drawing rooms, along the way encountering the sweet Harriet Smith, the chatty and tedious Miss Bates, and her absurd father Mr. Woodhouse–a memorable gallery of Austen's finest personages. Thinking herself impervious to romance of any kind, Emma tries to arrange a wealthy marriage for poor Harriet, but refuses to recognize her own feelings for the gallant Mr. Knightley. What ensues is a delightful series of scheming escapades in which every social machination and bit of "tittle-tattle" is steeped in Austen's delicious irony. Ultimately, Emma discovers that "Perfect happiness, even in memory, is not common."

Virginia Woolf called Jane Austen "the most perfect artist among women," and Emma Woodhouse is arguably her most perfect creation. Though Austen found her heroine to be a person whom "no one but myself will much like," Emma is her most cleverly woven, riotously comedic, and pleasing novel of manners.

Steven Marcus is Professor of English and Comparative Literature and George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, and a specialist in nineteenth-century literature and culture. A fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Literary Studies, he has received Fulbright, American Council of Learned Societies, Guggenheim, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Rockefeller, and Mellon grants. He is the author of more than 200 publications.

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From Steven Marcus's Introduction to Emma

The first sentence of Emma is only less well known than the legendary opening of Pride and Prejudice. "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her." The immediate effect of this statement is to stop us, we readers, in our tracks. It is also a heads-up or alert, signaling to us as the narrator's adherents and collaborators to step up the volume and fine-tune the attentiveness that we direct toward the page. It begins with a broadside of affirmations and modulates into a conclusion that intimates serious problems may exist in the offing. Emma is very good looking in a rather striking and forceful way (not pretty or, here, beautiful); she is intelligent and quick-witted; and she is more than affluent when it comes to material means. She takes pleasure as well in the amenities of an established place in which to live, the establishment being part of a settled order in which she also feels at home. And best of all, perhaps, she is blessed with a "happy" temperament or general tone of well-being. With all these fortunate and combined bestowals, is there anything else to ask for? Well, yes—since they amount, the narrator remarks without pausing, to no more than "seemed." The dubiety carried in that ironic reservation turns the sentence around and prepares us for vexation and distress.

Emma has also reached a conventional juncture or locus of passage in the life cycle of European women and men. And this reference to numbers leads to a series of statements that informs us about how, in turn, those twenty-one years are to be regarded. Emma's mother has been dead for about sixteen years, since that is the interval during which Miss Taylor has been employed as her beloved governess—Emma's memory of her goes back to the age of five. Emma's older married sister, Isabella, is at least six years her senior, since we soon learn that she has been married for seven years and already has five children, the youngest of whom is less than a year old. It is reasonable to assume that Emma "had been mistress" of her father's house since she was about thirteen (a number that will come up later). Her father's age we will get to in a bit.

Her father and governess have raised Emma with great affection and equal indulgence. Restraint and authority have been close to absent from her experience, and she has, within this atmosphere of tenderness, permissiveness, and admiration, grown up "doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgment, but directed chiefly by her own." The consequent disadvantages of Emma's situation were "the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too much of herself." These "real evils" are at once modulated by "rather" and "a little too much." There may be forebodings, but they are neither very dark nor desperate.

The novel begins, however, with Miss Taylor's departure from the Woodhouse home of Hartfield. She has become Mrs. Weston, having just married a prosperous widower neighbor and taken up residence at Randalls, his recently purchased "little estate," only a half-mile from the Woodhouses. The wedding guests have gone, and Emma and her father are left to themselves "to dine together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long evening." Miss Taylor's wedding precipitates in Emma a "gentle sorrow." She understandably experiences Mrs. Weston's happiness as a "loss" as well, and sits in "mournful thought" pondering "what she had lost." The good fortune of her dear friend is both a source of "satisfaction" to her and yet, more questionably, "a black morning's work." The lightly stressed irony is that Emma is responding to her idealized surrogate mother's marriage as if it were an echo or shadow reenactment of her natural mother's death sixteen years before. Even more, in recent years the two of them have stood on "equal footing" and in "perfect unreserve"; to Emma, Miss Taylor has been that most rare "friend and companion," someone "peculiarly interested in herself, in every pleasure, every scheme of hers;—one to whom she could speak every thought as it arose, and . . . could never find fault."

With this approving mirror of another consciousness, another affirming yet senior female self, moving away into separateness and independence, Emma recognizes in herself the sense that things can never be the same for her again. "How was she to bear the change?" Indeed.

The "melancholy change" is compounded by Emma's awareness that "she was now in great danger of suffering from intellectual solitude. She dearly loved her father, but he was no companion for her. He could not meet her in conversation, rational or playful." Mr. Woodhouse is somewhere between sixty-five and seventy years old. Yet

the evil of the actual disparity in their ages . . . was much increased by his constitution and habits; for having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activity of mind or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years; and though every where beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper, his talents could not have recommended him at any time.Although Emma dearly loves her father, they don't have interests or resources in common. Emma loves talk, the back and forth of conversation, the playfulness of wit and the bite of argument; her father is somewhere else. He is obsessed to the point of looniness with his health; he lives in terror of the weather; drafts, heat, cold and colds, damp, snow, the dews of a summer evening all imperil him and everyone he can warn. And he is equally endangered by food: His fearful admonitions on thin gruel, pork, boiled eggs, and baked apples are the stuff of unforgettable comic turns. He has behaved as "quite an invalid" all his life and has in fact become one. He claims that he goes "no where" and is torpid and inert. He exists at such a depressed level of vitality that he seems to be far older than his years. Friendly, affectionate, and amiable as he may be, he is neither brainy nor energetic. Mr. Woodhouse is effectively old enough to be Emma's grandfather, and in the far-distant resolution of this novel he partially fills that functional role.

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Emma 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 433 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I love Pride and Prejudice the best, Emma is definitely my second favorite of Ausent's works. I prefer the story of the former novel, but other than that I can say that I love, love, absolutely love Emma. As much as I adore Mr. Darcy (Along with every other female in the world) it must be confessed that I am madly in love with Mr. Knightly, and I read the entire book just for the scenes he is in. Although Pride and Prejudice can be called perfect, I find the Declaration-of-Love scene in Emma to be much more endearing and wonderful. I find that love of Pride and Prejudice generally has to be shared, since it is such a well known story, even to the most illiterate of people. As Emma is not as ubiquitously loved, I feel like the book has a more exclusive place in my heart, and that makes me love it all the more.
SillyWillyShakespeare More than 1 year ago
Emma is a hilarious novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. As I escaped into the twists and turns of the social circle in Emma's small town, I found myself laughing, crying, berating characters, and gushing about how much I loved this book. Emma's blindness to what is going on around her in the way of love endears her even more. Emma is beautiful, charming, and what every young lady in those days ought to be. She's a dutiful daughter, and usually very proper, though she has a love of matchmaking, something she really isn't very good at. She encounters very memorable characters and finds herself in the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jane Austen is one of the most talented novelists I know of. The first book I read by Austen is Pride and Prejudice, and when I had the opportunity to read another for pleasure as well as academics, I couldn’t pass it up. The novel, Emma, consists of advanced vocabulary and complex word phrasing, but with a dictionary by my side, nothing was in my way. Once I picked it up, it was hard to put it back down. In the novel Emma, Emma Woodhouse is the only lady in the house of many men. She therefore makes all the important decisions and has a degree of power and independence. Throughout the life of Emma, there are many situations in which any typical teenage girl can relate to. Emma doesn’t believe in finding her so called soul mate, so she meddles with others’ to help them find theirs. Regardless, she is admired and respected by all. One of the most powerful messages I acquired from this novel is learning that you cannot prevent the inevitable. Whatever road you are on is the one you are meant to take. To get to the man of her dreams, Mr. Knightley, it wasn't quite the simplest road ever. She goes through five weddings, a half-dozen major misunderstandings, and 400 pages pass before she learns of it, but Emma's ending is as happy and triumphant as the close of Pride and Prejudice. In the beginning of the book up until about the 250 page mark, the story is somewhat slow, but as Emma discovers that her love matchmaking isn’t quite working out for her, Mr. Knightley’s charm speeds up the book. Although the language is somewhat difficult to interpret, it's worth the read. The story is witty, charming and full of loveable characters. I guarantee that you will have the hardest time putting the book down. Although Emma is one of the longer books Jane Austen has written, it is inspirational in every way from beginning to end. It is a comedy of Emma as she learns to find her happily ever after. Emma is, without a doubt, one of the best books I have read in a very long time. I rarely ever have the time to pick up a well written book and read it from front to back, but I can honestly say that this book fulfilled that need; definitely a good book to pick up on a rainy weekend.
Zipperhips More than 1 year ago
I loved Emma. Then again, I also loved Clueless, and guess which one was easier to get through?
Vovo More than 1 year ago
Emma Woodhouse is a character who is wealthy, prejudiced, witty yet ignorant, innocent yet blameable, and altogether lovely. She is admired by her friends and held in doting compassion by all of her readers. When Emma seeks to aid her poor, orphaned friend Harriet Smith in finding a rich husband, she sets herself up for learning a few very difficult life lessons. She learns what it is to be humbled, to be wrong, to be accused, and, ultimately, to be forgiven. Jane Austen had a knack for writing good, clean romances with somewhat surprising endings. In Pride and Prejudice, there is an elopement. In Sense and Sensibility, there is a canceled engagement. In Emma, there is a secret engagement between two characters which is not revealed until the end. It is very common knowledge that Austen did not believe her readers would like her Emma. Despite what the authoress may have originally thought, Emma is still in print after two hundred years of being enjoyed by generation upon generation of readers. The story is beautiful, imaginative, and realistic- a story that people of every age can fully appreciate. Emma Woodhouse seems to be perfect. She is attractive, wealthy, and graceful. She visits the poor, attends church, and nourishes her friendships. But, like all mankind, she has little flaws hiding beneath her bonnet. She harbors a high opinion of herself and of her intellect. She feels that she is capable of speaking things into existence. She learns, as we all do, that her whims and fancies must be bridled. She learns that her opinions are not superior and that she does not possess power over love. I greatly enjoyed reading Emma. She was someone I could relate to, understand, laugh at, cry with, and applaud in the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is inscrutable.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an easier Jane Austen book to read and I loved it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the best book i have ever read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"He sounds lovely." She walks over to a table and puts the bunny on my bag and lets it slerp turning back to candy and smiles.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He looks around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
These anonymous people who are obviously doing nothing with their lives and blowing up the customer reviews with their BS bios. I actually am an avid customer and need tknow which e-books work properly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Glad it was free. I couldn't suffer through it. If you are looking for a nice book to read before bed...this is it. It will knock you out like a light....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite of the Jane Austen books on marriage. As Emma helps her friends she fails in her personal romances. Austens writing takes into the highs and lows of Emma until we are aprt of the story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walk in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am thinking of buying Emma. Should I? I love Jane Austen Books so I was wondering if this is as good as the other ones?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sheri-A-Wilkinson More than 1 year ago
Emma (Hardcover) by Jane Austen Twenty-one year old Emma Woodhouse lives a rich live. She lives with her father in a nice home they are wealthy and mingles with the best of people. She is convinced her (not so rich) friend Harriet should marry well. No matter what the rest of society feels. Emma herself is not perfect, she is pretty but not beautiful, she is witty and quick with words, regardless of how the other person(s)will feel. She is definitely flawed far from perfect. A true classic, Emma is a character you either like or hate. I liked her for her outspokenness, her quick wit and often quirky charm. At times I wonder if the story of "Emma" is loosely based on Jane Austen's life. Even though there are many differences.
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