Jane Austen's Letters

Overview

Jane Austen's letters afford a unique insight into the daily life of the novelist: intimate and gossipy, observant and informative—they read much like the novels themselves. They bring alive her family and friends, her surroundings and contemporary events, all with a freshness unparalleled in modern biographies. Most important, we recognize the unmistakable voice of the author of such novels as Pride and Prejudice and Emma. We see the shift in her writing from witty and amusing descriptions of the social life of ...

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Overview

Jane Austen's letters afford a unique insight into the daily life of the novelist: intimate and gossipy, observant and informative—they read much like the novels themselves. They bring alive her family and friends, her surroundings and contemporary events, all with a freshness unparalleled in modern biographies. Most important, we recognize the unmistakable voice of the author of such novels as Pride and Prejudice and Emma. We see the shift in her writing from witty and amusing descriptions of the social life of town and country, to a thoughtful and constructive tone while writing about the business of literary composition.

R.W. Chapman's ground-breaking edition of the collected letters first appeared in 1932, and a second edition followed twenty years later. A third edition, edited Deirdre Le Faye in 1997 added new material, re-ordered the letters into their correct chronological sequence, and provided discreet and full annotation to each letter, including its provenance, and information on the watermarks, postmarks, and other physical details of the manuscripts. This new fourth edition incorporates the findings of recent scholarship to further enrich our understanding of Austen and give us the fullest and most revealing view yet of her life and family. In addition, Le Faye has written a new preface, has amended and updated the biographical and topographical indexes, has introduced a new subject index, and had added the contents of the notes to the general index.

Teachers, students, and fans of Jane Austen, at all levels, will find in these letters remarkable insight into one of the most popular novelists ever.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"These are the letters of our greatest novelist. They give glances and hints at her life from the age of 20 to her death at 41, the years in which she wrote her six imperishable books."
—Claire Tomalin, Independent on Sunday

"For this volume Le Faye has expanded the annotations and updated the biographical and topographical indexes...It is largely thanks to Deirdre Le Faye's masterful editions that Jane Austen's correspondence can be read with ease. Le Faye's work combines a meticulous compilation of data about the physical attributes and provenance of the letters with annotations and indexes that allow us to read over Austen's shoulder as she shares everyday news and frank opinions with family and friends." —JASNA News

Library Journal
Austen's last extant letter to Cassandra, her only sister and closest confidante, was written when Austen was ill and near death at age 41. She bequeathed to Cassandra "every thing [sic] of which I may die possessed or which may be here after due to me." Regrettably, Cassandra later burned a substantial part of her inherited cache of letters. Of the surviving corpus of 164 letters, all of which are in this collection, most illuminating are the 96 written to Cassandra, which offer a kind of prism through which to seek to understand Austen's psyche. These candid letters are pitted with personal comments that are unquestionably acerbic, spiteful, snobbish, and malicious. Alternatively, Austen is a witty gossip, sensitive to the barometer of fashion, a keen observer of social foibles, and a faithful reporter of domestic affairs. Le Faye's editing is scrupulous and exhaustive. Although no new letters have emerged since the third edition (1997), which Le Faye also edited, she here incorporates additional biographical, social, and historical information in her extensive notes. There are biographical, topographical, and—new to this edition—subject indexes. VERDICT Essential for all libraries wishing to keep up with fundamental Austen scholarship and for all die-hard Janeites.—Lonnie Weatherby, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198704492
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/12/2014
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 694
  • Sales rank: 382,050
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Deirdre Le Faye, now retired, worked for many years in the Department of Medieval & Later Antiquities at the British Museum. She started researching the life and times of Jane Austen and her family in the 1970s, and since then has written several books about them, the latest being A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family 1600-2000, as well as numerous articles in literary journals.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Preface to Fourth Edition
List of Letters
Jane Austen's Letters
Abbreviations and Citations
Notes
General Notes on the Letters
Bibliography
Biographical Index
Topographical Index
Subject Index
General Index

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