Emma (Oxford World's Classics Series) / Edition 2by Jane Austen
Pub. Date: 05/28/2003
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Emma Woodhouse is the lovely, lively, willful, and fallible heroine of Jane Austen's fourth published novel. Confident that she knows best, Emma schemes to find a suitable husband for her pliant friend Harriet, only to discover that she understands the feelings of others as little as she does her own heart. As Emma puzzles and blunders her way through the mysteries
Emma Woodhouse is the lovely, lively, willful, and fallible heroine of Jane Austen's fourth published novel. Confident that she knows best, Emma schemes to find a suitable husband for her pliant friend Harriet, only to discover that she understands the feelings of others as little as she does her own heart. As Emma puzzles and blunders her way through the mysteries of her social world, Austen evokes for her readers a cast of unforgettable characters and a detailed portrait of a small town undergoing historical transition.
Written with matchless wit and irony, judged by many to be her finest novel, Emma has been adapted many times for film and television. This new edition contains lively notes and an introduction that shows how Austen brilliantly turns the mundane into the exceptional.
Table of Contents
|Note on the Text||xxx|
|A Chronology of Jane Austen||xxxvi|
|Appendix A||Rank and Social Status||382|
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For me, reading Jane Austen¿s novel Emma is a delight. However, not all readers have been in agreement with me over the years including Jane Austen herself who warned her family before publication ¿I am going to take a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like.¿ She was of course making fun of herself in her own satirical way - her critics on the other hand, were quite serious. When the book was published in 1815, Austen sent a copy to her contemporary author Maria Edgeworth who gave up reading the novel after the first volume, passing it on to friend and complaining, ¿There is no story in it.¿ Others had mixed feelings offering both praise and blame for its focus on the ordinary details of a few families in a country village. One important advocate of Emma was Sir Walter Scott, whose essay published in the Quarterly Review of 1815 represents the most important criticism on Austen¿s writing during her lifetime. Even though the review was published anonymously, she must have been quite giddy when the reviewer heralded her Emma as a `new style of novel¿ designed to `suit modern times¿. Heady stuff to be sure. When it was later learned that Scott had contributed the review, it would placed Jane Austen in a whole other league of writers. Emma can be enjoyed on different levels, and for pure humour and witty dialogue it may reign as Austen¿s supreme triumph. Just Google quotes from Emma and you might agree that it has the best bon mots of any of her novels. Modern critics claim it as her masterpiece, and I do not doubt it. Pride and Prejudice may be the most beloved and well know of her works, but Emma represents Austen at the height of her writing skill and power as a story teller. Like some of Austen¿s contemporaries, the modern reader might find challenges in its minutiae and supposed lack of story. Not to worry. There are many sources available to assist in understanding Jane Austen¿s subtle and often witty dialogue, her unique characterizations, and help place the novel in historical context. One source to consider is the new 2008 edition of Emma, by Oxford World¿s Classics. Recently revised in 2003, this re-issue contains the same supplemental and textual material with a newly designed cover. For a reader seeking a medium level of support to help them along in their understanding you will be happy to find a thoughtful 23 page introduction by associate Professor of English and Women¿s Studies Adela Pinch of the University of Michigan. The essay contains a brief introduction, and segments on Shopping and Suburbia, Narrative Voices: Gossip and the Individual, The Politics of Knowledge, and Emma: Much Ado About Nothing?. Her emphasis is on understanding Austen¿s choice of writing about the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of the lives of its heroine Emma Woodhouse and her circle of family and friends in Highbury, a small English village in which she sets about to match make for all of its singletons blundering hilariously along the way. I particularly appreciated Prof. Pinch¿s positive comments throughout the essay. ¿Austen makes voices stick in the mind through her use of free indirect discourse, which makes character¿s voice seem indelible, capable of soaking into other beings. But she also uses the same technique for representing thought. Her cultivation of this mode of representing her heroines¿ minds has made her novels crucial to the history of the English novel, markers of a movement when the novel as a literary genre perfects its inward turn, and begins to claim human psychology as its territory. Above all it creates the feeling of intimacy with her heroines that many readers prize.¿ Page xvii-xviii If I may be so bold and interject as the everyman Austen reader for a moment, parts of this essay are scholarly and touch on areas beyond my immediate understanding, especially when she delves into the philosophical and psychological pedantry. For the most part, Prof. Pinch¿s essay is written in accessib