Persuasion (Norton Critical Edition) / Edition 1

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The text of this Norton Critical Edition is that of the first edition (dated 1818 but probably issued in late 1817), which was published posthumously.
The editor has spelled out ampersands and made superscript letters lowercase.
The novel, which is fully annotated, is followed by the two canceled chapters that comprise Persuasion’s original ending.
"Backgrounds and Contexts" collects contemporary assessments of Jane Austen as well as materials relating to social issues of the period.
Included are an excerpt from William Hayley’s 1785 "Essay on Old Maids"; Austen’s letters to Fanny Knight, which reveal her skepticism about marriage as the key to happiness; Henry Austen’s memorial tribute to his famous sister; assessments by nineteenth-century critics Julia Kavanagh and Goldwin Smith, who saw Austen as an unassuming, sheltered, "feminine," rural writer; and the perspective of Austen’s biographer Geraldine Edith Mitten.
"Modern Critical Views" reflects a dramatic shift in the way that twentieth-century scholars view both Austen and Persuasion. Increasingly, the focus is on Austen's moral purposefulness and political acumen and on Persuasion's historical, social, and political implications.
A variety of perspectives are provided by A. Walton Litz, Marilyn Butler, Tony Tanner, Robert Hopkins, Ann W. Astell, Claudia L. Johnson, and Cheryl Ann Weissman.
A Selected Bibliography is also included.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Austen is the hot property of the entertainment world with new feature film versions of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility on the silver screen and Pride and Prejudice hitting the TV airwaves on PBS. Such high visibility will inevitably draw renewed interest in the original source materials. These new Modern Library editions offer quality hardcovers at affordable prices.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393960181
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/1994
  • Series: Norton Critical Editions Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Austen (1775–1817) was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature.

Patricia Meyer Spacks, Ph.D. Berkeley, is Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English at the University of Virginia. Her publications include An Argument of Images: The Poetry of Alexander Pope; The Female Imagination; The Adolescent Idea: Myths of Youth and the Adult Imagination; Desire and Truth: Functions of Plot in Eighteenth-Century English Novels; and Boredom: The Literary History of a State of Mind.


In 1801, George Austen retired from the clergy, and Jane, Cassandra, and their parents took up residence in Bath, a fashionable town Jane liked far less than her native village. Jane seems to have written little during this period. When Mr. Austen died in 1805, the three women, Mrs. Austen and her daughters, moved first to Southampton and then, partly subsidized by Jane's brothers, occupied a house in Chawton, a village not unlike Jane's first home. There she began to work on writing and pursued publishing once more, leading to the anonymous publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811 and Pride and Prejudice in 1813, to modestly good reviews.

Known for her cheerful, modest, and witty character, Jane Austen had a busy family and social life, but as far as we know very little direct romantic experience. There were early flirtations, a quickly retracted agreement to marry the wealthy brother of a friend, and a rumored short-lived attachment -- while she was traveling -- that has not been verified. Her last years were quiet and devoted to family, friends, and writing her final novels. In 1817 she had to interrupt work on her last and unfinished novel, Sanditon, because she fell ill. She died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, where she had been taken for medical treatment. After her death, her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published, together with a biographical notice, due to the efforts of her brother Henry. Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Author biography courtesy of Barnes & Noble Books.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      December 16, 1775
    2. Place of Birth:
      Village of Steventon in Hampshire, England
    1. Date of Death:
      July 18, 1817
    2. Place of Death:
      Winchester, Hampshire, England
    1. Education:
      Taught at home by her father

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Persuasion is Jane Austen's Most Engaging Novel

    All of Jane Austen's novels are wonderful in my opinion, but for me, "Persuasion" is the most brilliant of her accomplishments. There are many reasons for this. First, I like the fact that Anne and Wentworth have a past with each other, and that there was a long period of separation--I'm intrigued by the thought that things didn't get smoothed out really quickly and yet they found each other again (I'm a hopeful romantic, but I like a few bumps in the road. It just makes it more realistic).

    I also like that fact that the hero of the story is basically a good, middle-class bloke who made his own fortune. He had to work hard to get what he has, and that wealth means something--not just to him, but about him. He is a man of character, ambition, skill and intelligence. He may be harsh at times, but he has a good head. Because of that, he was successful. I can't say that Darcy couldn't have done the same, but it's not really a matter to be thought of in "Pride and Prejudice."

    Also, Wentworth is a bit more obviously flawed in the beginning of "Persuasion" than Darcy is in the beginning of "Pride and Prejudice". We know that Mr. Darcy has pride, but it is thought to be only from position. Wentworth's fault is pride too, but it is injured pride. At the same time, his bitterness at this injury is perfectly understandable. It comes from a "real" place and is even justified. He seems more human and approachable to me. I know Darcy is supposed to be somewhat mysterious, but we know Wentworth's circumstance, and because of that, I feel empathy for both Anne and Frederick. Just as bitter as Frederick is, his tenderness is just as poignant, even when he doesn't want to show it, as when he helps her into the carriage. His confession of love in the letter to Anne is full of desperation, and well, almost pain--all of the pain that he's been silently enduring for the past eight-and-a-half years.

    Another characteristic of the protagonists of this novel is that they are both a bit older than the usual courting couple. Life didn't end for Anne at 23. She still manages to end up with the love of her life beyond the age of 27. At the same time, she has grown a lot since she has been apart from Frederick. She's always stubborn after that first time her family persuades her not to marry Frederick. She refuses to marry Charles; and she refuses to give into her father's insistence that she go to the Carteret's. I think Anne had to suffer through one "persuasion" to learn to stand her ground later on, and if you really look, you can see that even though she can still be flexible in regard to helping her family, she cannot be made to do something against her will when it comes to her personal relationships--after the one wrenching she had from Frederic early on. She has become capable in caring for others, as if she knows those skills might be needed on board ship one day. Anne's personality falls somewhere between Elizabeth Bennet's mocking, biting playfulness and Fanny Price's quit acquiescence.

    Finally, "Persuasion" is just full of joyful little bits: Admiral and Mrs. Croft, the most intense love letter at the end (that I think is one of the best in literature). I love this version of the book, too, because it includes the original ending of the novel in the appendix. It often shows up in the movie versions, and I'm glad screenwriters appreciate it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2007

    An Austen Classic

    As a Jane Austen fan, I found this book to be very enjoyable. However, for those impatient for a quick story line, Persuasion is probably not the best choice. It has all the Austen wit and character development, but moves slightly slower than some of her other books, such as Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice. All in all, I enjoyed this book greatly, particularly the singular main character. Unlike the fiery Marianne Dashwood or spirited Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot is a more subdued individual, creating a different feel in the novel. I recommend this book as one that will catch you in its elegance, and make it impossible for you to put it down.

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    Posted January 24, 2009

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    Posted October 24, 2008

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    Posted May 24, 2010

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