Pride and Prejudice

( 1908 )

Overview

Since its publication in 1813, Pride and Prejudice’s blend of humor, romance, and social satire have delighted readers of all ages. In telling the story of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett and their five daughters, Jane Austen creates a miniature of her world, where social grace and the nuances of behavior predominate in the making of a great love story.

At the turn of eighteenth-century England, spirited Elizabeth Bennet copes with the suit of the snobbish Mr. Darcy while ...

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Pride and Prejudice

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Overview

Since its publication in 1813, Pride and Prejudice’s blend of humor, romance, and social satire have delighted readers of all ages. In telling the story of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett and their five daughters, Jane Austen creates a miniature of her world, where social grace and the nuances of behavior predominate in the making of a great love story.

At the turn of eighteenth-century England, spirited Elizabeth Bennet copes with the suit of the snobbish Mr. Darcy while trying to sort out the romantic entanglements of two of her sisters, sweet and beautiful Jane and scatterbrained Lydia.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Suzanna E. Henshon
This classic 18th century novel has inspired movies and spinoff works including Twilight and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. In this new edition, young readers have the opportunity to see the artistic inspiration behind the recent hit, Twilight. Elizabeth Bennet is appalled at Mr. Darcy's lack of sensitivity and manners. But when 16-year-old Lydia Bennet elopes with Mr. Wickham, Elizabeth sees Mr. Darcy in a new light. When Mr. Darcy helps arrange a match that saves Lydia from complete ruin, Elizabeth feels affection and respect for this handsome young man. Yet fate tears Darcy and Elizabeth apart, and it appears like they will never find each other across the polite and proper 18th century society. Meanwhile, Mrs. Bennet is determined to marry her five daughters off; she is delighted when Lydia and Jane get engaged. Readers will fall into this enchanting love story; this lovely edition is a companion to Romeo & Juliet and Wuthering Heights, which inspired the second and third books of the Twilight series. The HarperTeen edition is a particularly fun read because it has three essays at the end: "The Jane Austen-Twilight Zone," "10 Things You Didn't Know About Jane Austen," and "What if Darcy & Elizabeth Lived Now & Were on Facebook?" Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.
John Richetti University of Pennsylvania
"Robert Irvine's edition of Austen's Pride and Prejudice is a wonderfully illuminating text of an often misunderstood classic. Irvine's introduction is subtle, shrewd, and penetrating, offering a convincing historical and cultural interpretation of Austen's novel that will help readers to understand its full complexity."
Clifford Siskin University of Glasgow
"Elizabeth and Darcy come to life—rich, historical life—in this brilliant Broadview edition. Thanks to a compelling introduction and capacious appendices, we can see how their private compromise enacts a public one: old and new wealth merge as the English appropriate their own elite 'as an aesthetic phenomenon'—an appropriation that transforms national identity into a matter of 'culture.' Irvine's Pride and Prejudice matches a carefully annotated text with a critical frame that synthesizes the seemingly disparate strands—political, socio-economic, feminist—of recent Austen criticism."
From the Publisher
"The wit of Jane Austen has for partner the perfection of her taste."—Virginia Woolf
From Barnes & Noble
This timeless satire on English manners traces the fortunes and foibles of a family of marriageable young women and their suitors.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781495254031
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/18/2014
  • Pages: 210
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Austen was born in 1775 at Steventon, Hampshire. She was the seventh child of the local rector and her life, by modern standards, was uneventful. In 1801 she moved with her parents to Bath but returned to Hampshire when her father died, settling in the village of Chawton. She remained there until 1817, when she moved to Winchester to be within easy reach of her doctor. She died that year, at age forty-one, and is buried in Winchester Cathedral, which also contains a plaque in honor of her memory. Four of her novels were published anonymously in her lifetime; two more, one of which was Persuasion, appeared posthumously.

Deborah Lutz is an Associate Professor at Long Island University, C.W. Post. Her books include Relics of Death in Victorian Literature and Culture; The Bronte Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects; The Dangerous Lover: Gothic Villains, Byronism, and the Nineteenth-Century Seduction Narrative; and Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism.

Biography

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

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


IT IS a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

"My dear Mr. Bennet," said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?"

Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.

"But it is," returned she; "for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it."

Mr. Bennet made no answer.

"Do not you want to know who has taken it?" cried his wife impatiently.

"You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it."

This was invitation enough.

"Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week."

"What is his name?"

"Bingley."

"Is he married or single?"

"Oh! single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!"

"How so? how can it affect them?"

"My dear Mr. Bennet," replied his wife, "how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them."

"Is that his design in settling here?"

"Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes."

"I see no occasion for that. You and the girls may go, or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be still better, for as you are as handsome as any of them, Mr. Bingley might like you the best of the party."

"My dear, you flatter me. I certainly have had my share of beauty, but I do not pretend to be anything extraordinary now. When a woman has five grown up daughters, she ought to give over thinking of her own beauty."

"In such cases, a woman has not often much beauty to think of."

"But, my dear, you must indeed go and see Mr. Bingley when he comes into the neighbourhood."

"It is more than I engage for, I assure you."

"But consider your daughters. Only think what an establishment it would be for one of them. Sir William and Lady Lucas are determined to go, merely on that account, for in general you know they visit no newcomers. Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to visit him if you do not."

"You are over-scrupulous surely. I dare say Mr. Bingley will be very glad to see you; and I will send a few lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying whichever he chooses of the girls; though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy."

"I desire you will do no such thing. Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure she is not half so handsome as Jane, nor half so good-humoured as Lydia. But you are always giving her the preference."

"They have none of them much to recommend them," replied he; "they are all silly and ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters."

"Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion on my poor nerves. "

"You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least."

"Ah! you do not know what I suffer."

"But I hope you will get over it, and live to see many young men of four thousand a year come into the neighbourhood."

"It will be no use to us, if twenty such should come since you will not visit them."

"Depend upon it, my dear, that when there are twenty, I will visit them all."

Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.
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Table of Contents

General Editor's preface     ix
Acknowledgements     xiii
Chronology     xv
Introduction     xxii
Note on the text     lxxix
Pride and Prejudice     1
Corrections and emendations to 1813 text     432
Phomas Egerton and the publication history     437
Legal and military background     441
Pemberley and its models     452
Note on the second and third editions of Pride and Prejudice     456
Abbreviations     459
Explanatory notes     461
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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

It is now almost exactly two centuries since the first two of Jane Austen's six completed novels - Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice - were published, and for much of that time writers and critics have passionately disagreed about the true caliber of her work. Austen's books received a few respectful reviews and lively attention from the reading public during her lifetime, but it wasn't until nearly thirty years after her death that some critics began to recognize her enduring artistic accomplishment--and others to debate it.

In 1843, the historian Thomas Macaulay called Austen the writer to "have approached nearest to the manner of the great master" Shakespeare; Charlotte Brontë felt, on the contrary, that "the Passions are perfectly unknown to her.... Jane Austen was a complete and most sensible lady, but a very incomplete, and rather insensible (not senseless) woman." Anthony Trollope made up his mind as a young man that "Pride and Prejudice was the best novel in the language," while Mark Twain claimed to feel an "animal repugnance" for Austen's writing.

Austen herself would probably not have disagreed with many of her detractors' objections. She acknowledged that her themes and concerns were limited; she described them as "human nature in the midland counties." "Three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on," she wrote in a letter to her niece; and in another, now famous letter to her brother Edward, she described her art as "the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush, as to produce little effect, after much labour."

It is true that great historical events and political concerns appear only obliquely, if at all, in the background of Austen's stories; that she deals with the spiritual condition of the human soul only insofar as it manifests itself in her characters' manners and taste in spouses; that the intellectual issues of her day appear in her novels primarily as a vehicle for revealing character and spoofing fashion. Even Austen's great early champion, the critic G. H. Lewes, had to admit the truth of Charlotte Brontë's objection that Austen's style lacked poetry, and that her "exquisite" work would appeal only to readers who didn't require "strong lights and shadows." But in spite of these limitations, the particular genius and lasting appeal of Austen's writing has only become clearer and more certain as the decades pass and literary fashions come and go.

What is Austen's particular genius? And what might account for the renaissance of popular interest in her work today--one reflected in the recently acclaimed television and feature film productions of Sense and Sensibility (with an Oscar-winning screenplay by Emma Thompson), Pride and Prejudice (an A&E miniseries), the art house hit Persuasion, and the upcoming release of Emma, as well as the Emma-inspired Clueless, now atop video rental charts?

"Of all great writers," Virginia Woolf said, "she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness." But perhaps Austen herself gave us a clue to the standards for greatness she set herself, and a way to judge her achievement, when in Northanger Abbey she has a character say: "'Oh! it is only a novel!' or, in short, only some work in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusion of wit and humour are to be conveyed to the world in the best chosen language."

Austen's delightful wit is certainly one of the great pleasures of her work. As to "the best chosen language," while her writing conveys none of the lyricism of the Romantics (like Brontë) who would succeed her, it is full of intelligence and precisely crafted to convey its often subtle meaning. But Austen's strongest suit is her thorough knowledge and happy delineation of human nature. We can still, despite the vast differences between her society and our own, recognize ourselves in the ways her characters think and behave. We all know people as cleverly manipulative and outwardly affectionate as Lucy Steele or Miss Bingley; as self-involved as Fanny Dashwood or Lady Catherine de Bourgh; and as charming but as lacking in scruples as John Willoughby or Colonel Wickham. We are in turns impulsive and hyper-responsible like Marianne and Elinor Dashwood; conceal ourselves with arrogance like Mr. Darcy; assume we understand more than we do like Elizabeth Bennet; and revel in gossip, like Mrs. Jennings. And while the great events and philosophical movements of history play themselves out around us, it is our own nature and actions, and the nature and actions of the people around us, that most influence our lives.

In her own day, Austen's work signified a break with the Gothic and sentimental novels that had long been fashionable, in which heroines were always virtuous, romance was always sentimentalized, and unlikely but convenient coincidences and acts of God always occurred to bring about the dramatic climax. Instead Austen represented the ordinary world of men and women as it--sometimes mundanely--was, a place where love and romance were constrained by economics and human imperfection; where women had distinct and often sparkling personalities; where characters were never simply good or evil but more complicated amalgams, reflecting both their own moral nature and the virtues and failings of the families and society that shaped them.

In these ways, Austen seems very much in tune with today's sensibilities. We love her strong, unpretentious heroines ("Pictures of perfection as you know make me sick & wicked," Austen said of them), who think for themselves and say what they mean when appropriate and don't take themselves too seriously. They are not, in today's parlance, victims. We are as interested as ever in Austen's favorite subjects of love and marriage, while also identifying with her steadfast refusal to romanticize romance; with her acknowledgment that money, class, and what other people think matter in the real world; that marriage does not result in a happy ending for everyone; and that it is dangerous to let passion blind us to reality. Living amidst the cultural fallout from the self-absorbed, sensibility-prone 1960s, we appreciate Austen's emphasis on reason, moderation, fidelity, and consideration for others.

Austen wrote her books at the dawn of the nineteenth century, when vast social changes were already encroaching on the way of life she so loved and rendered with such exquisite artistry. We read her books today on the cusp of a new century, with an unfathomable world creeping up on us, too--one globally interconnected, technologically complex, economically uncertain. Perhaps we find on Austen's rural estates and in her charming, insular society the same peace and pleasure she found there; and an analogue for the simpler, more circumscribed world of our own childhoods, itself passing quickly away into history.

The time in which Jane Austen wrote her novels was a period of great stability just about to give way to a time of unimagined changes. At that time most of England's population (some thirteen million) were involved in rural and agricultural work: yet within another twenty years, the majority of Englishmen became urban dwellers involved with industry, and the great railway age had begun. Throughout the early years of the century the cities were growing at a great rate; the network of canals was completed, the main roads were being remade. Regency London, in particular, boomed and became, among other things, a great centre of fashion. On the other hand, England in the first decade of the nineteenth century was still predominantly a land of country towns and villages, a land of rural routines which were scarcely touched by the seven campaigns of the Peninsular War against Napoleon.

But if Austen's age was still predominantly one of rural quiet, it was also the age of the French Revolution, the War of American Independence, the start of the Industrial Revolution, and the first generation of the Romantic poets; and Jane Austen was certainly not unaware of what was going on in the world around her. She had two brothers in the Royal Navy and a cousin whose husband was guillotined in the Terror. And although her favourite prose writer was Dr. Samuel Johnson, she clearly knew the works of writers like Goethe, Worsdworth, Scott, Byron, Southey, Godwin and other, very definitely nineteenth-century, authors.

If Jane Austen seems to have lived a life of placid rural seclusion in north Hampshire, she was at the same time very aware of a whole range of new energies and impulses, new ideas and powers, which were changing or about to change England--and indeed the whole western world--with a violence, a suddenness, and a heedlessness, which would soon make Jane Austen's world seem as remote as the Elizabethan Age. It is well to remember that in the early years of the century, when Thomas Arnold saw his first train tearing through the Rugby countryside he said: "Feudality is gone forever." So close was it possible then to feel to the immemorial, static feudal way of life; so quickly was that way of life to vanish as the modern world laboured to be born.

Adapted from the Introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of Mansfield Park.

ABOUT THE TITLE

Pride and Prejudice has always been, since its publication in 1813, Austen's most popular novel. The story of a sparkling, irrepressible heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, the behavior of whose family leaves much to be desired, and Mr. Darcy, a very rich and seemingly rude young man who initially finds Elizabeth "tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me," is, in the words of the Penguin Classics edition editor Tony Tanner, a novel about how a man changes his manners and a woman changes her mind. Through the ages, its chief delights for readers have been its flawed but charming heroine ("I think [Elizabeth] as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print," Austen herself wrote to her sister, Cassandra); its humorous treatment of a serious subject; brilliant and witty dialogue laced with irony; a cast of humorous minor characters; and Austen's nearly magical development of a complex but believable love relationship between two complex people.

Critics have pointed to many ways in which Pride and Prejudice represents Austen's development and greater mastery of technique and artistry over Sense and Sensibility; perhaps the chief being that the conflict of the story is of the central characters' own making; and that a lively narrator more often appears to present material and to offer comment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Austen, seventh of the eight children of Reverend George and Cassandra Leigh Austen, was born on December 16, 1775, in the small village of Steventon in Hampshire, England. Her childhood was happy: her home was full of books and many friends and her parents encouraged both their children's intellectual interests and their passion for producing and performing in amateur theatricals. Austen's closest relationship, one that would endure throughout her life, was with her beloved only sister, Cassandra.

From about the time she was twelve years old, Austen began writing spirited parodies of the popular Gothic and sentimental fiction of the day for the amusement of her family. Chock-full of stock characters, vapid and virtuous heroines, and improbable coincidences, these early works reveal in nascent form many of her literary gifts: particularly her ironic sensibility, wit, and gift for comedy. Attempts at more sustained, serious works began around 1794 with a novel in letters - a popular form at the time - called Lady Susan, and in the years immediately following with two more epistolary novels - one called Elinor and Marianne, the other First Impressions - that would evolve into Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. Lady Susan, later revised and entitled Northanger Abbey, also was begun in that period.

From 1799 to 1809, little is known of Austen's life or literary endeavors, other than that upon her father's retirement she moved unhappily from her beloved home in Steventon to Bath; that he died a few years thereafter and she moved to Southampton; and that she began, but did not complete, a novel called The Watsons. A move back to the country in 1808 - to a cottage on one of her brother's properties in Chawton - seems to have revived her interest in writing.

Her revised version of Elinor and Marianne - Sense and Sensibility - was published, like all the work which appeared in print in her lifetime, anonymously, in 1811; and between the time Pride and Prejudice was accepted for publication and the time it actually appeared, she wrote Mansfield Park. Emma appeared in 1816 and was reviewed favorably by the most popular novelist of the day, Sir Walter Scott, who said:

The author's knowledge of the world, and the peculiar tact with which she presents characters that the reader cannot fail to recognize, reminds us something of the merits of the Flemish school of painting. The subjects are not often elegant, and certainly never grand; but they are finished up to nature, and with a precision which delights the reader.

Scott also insightfully pointed out Emma's significance in representing the emergence of a new kind of novel, one concerned with the texture of ordinary life.

Though all her novels were concerned with courtship, love, and marriage, Austen never married. There is some evidence that she had several flirtations with eligible men in her early twenties, and speculation that in 1802 she agreed to marry the heir of a Hampshire family but then changed her mind. Austen rigorously guarded her privacy, and after her death, her family censored and destroyed many of her letters. Little is known of her personal experience or her favorite subjects. However, Austen's reputation as a "dowdy bluestocking," as literary critic Ronald Blythe points out, is far from accurate: "she loved balls, cards, wine, music, country walks, conversation, children, and bad as well as excellent novels."

In 1816, as she worked to complete her novel Persuasion, Austen's health began to fail. She continued to work, preparing Northanger Abbey for publication, and began a light-hearted, satirical work called Sanditon which she never finished. She died at the age of forty-two on July 18, 1817, in the arms of her beloved sister, Cassandra, of what historians now believe to have been Addison's disease.

The identity of "A Lady" who wrote the popular novels was known in her lifetime only to her family and a few elite readers, among them the Prince Regent, who invited Austen to visit his library and "permitted" her to dedicate Emma to him (unaware, no doubt, that she loathed him). But Austen deliberately avoided literary circles; in Ronald Blythe's words, "literature, not the literary life, was always her intention." It was not until the December following her death, when Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published, that "a biographical notice of the author" by Austen's brother Henry appeared in the books, revealing to the reading public for the first time the name of Jane Austen.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Charlotte Brontë did not appreciate Pride and Prejudice. She felt that Jane Austen didn't write about her characters' hearts. Do you think Brontë's criticism is accurate? Is Austen's treatment of her characters' feelings superficial? Do they feel and/or express deep emotion?
  2. An earlier version of Pride and Prejudice was entitled First Impressions. What role do first impressions play in the story? In which cases do first impressions turn out to be inaccurate, in which cases correct?
  3. After Jane becomes engaged to Bingley, she says she wishes Elizabeth could be as happy as she is. Elizabeth replies, "If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness." Do you think Elizabeth's statement is true? Is it better to be good, to think the best of people, and be happy? Or is it better to see the world accurately, and feel less happiness?
  4. Mr. Bennet's honesty and wry humor make him one of the most appealing characters in the book. Yet, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that he has failed as a father. In what ways does Mr. Bennet let his children down? How does his action, or inaction, affect the behavior of his daughters? His wife? The course of the story?
  5. Charlotte doesn't marry Mr. Collins for love. Why does she marry him? Are her reasons valid? Are they fair to Mr. Collins? Do you think marrying for similar reasons is appropriate today?
  6. Both Elizabeth and Darcy undergo transformations over the course of the book. How does each change and how is the transformation brought about? Could Elizabeth's transformation have happened without Darcy's? Or vice versa?
  7. Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh are famously comic characters. What makes them so funny? How does Elizabeth's perception of them affect your trust in Elizabeth's views of other people in the book, particularly of Wickham and Darcy?
  8. For most of the book, pride prevents Darcy from having what he most desires. Why is he so proud? How is his pride displayed? Is Elizabeth proud? Which characters are not proud? Are they better off?
  9. Editor Tony Tanner points out in the Notes to the Penguin Classics edition that Austen did not mention topical events nor use precise descriptions of actual places in Pride and Prejudice, so that the larger historical events of the time did not detract attention from the private drama of her characters. "This perhaps contributes to the element of timelessness in the novel," he concludes, "even though it unmistakably reflects a certain kind of society at a certain historical moment." In what ways are the themes and concerns of Pride and Prejudice timeless? In what ways are they particular to the times in which Austen wrote the book?

RELATED TITLES

Northanger Abbey

Edited with an Introduction by Marilyn Butler

This lighthearted romance, generally agreed to be Austen's earliest major novel, though it was not published until after her death, is also a high-spirited burlesque of the sentimental and Gothic novels of her day. When the charmingly imperfect heroine, Catherine Morland, visits Northanger Abbey, she meets all the trappings of Gothic horror, and imagines the worst. Fortunately, she has at hand her own fundamental good sense and irresistible but unsentimental hero, Henry Tilney. Real disaster does eventually strike, but doesn't spoil for too long the happy atmosphere of this delightful novel.

Mansfield Park

Edited with an Introduction by Tony Tanner

More varied in scene and conceived on a bigger scale than Austen's earlier books, Mansfield Park (1814) can be seen as an image of quiet resistance at the start of what was to be the most convulsive century of change in English history. In telling the story of Fanny Price, the quiet and sensitive daughter of a lower-middle-class Portsmouth family who is brought up in - and after much suffering eventually becomes mistress of - elegant Mansfield Park, Austen draws on her usual cool irony and psychological insight while also portraying a less immediately winning heroine in a more complex light.

Emma

Edited with an Introduction by Ronald Blythe

Many writers and critics consider Emma (1816), the last of Austen's novels published in her lifetime, the climax of her genius. Dominating the novel is the character of Emma Woodhouse - vital, interesting, complex, and predisposed to playing power games with other people's emotions. Austen called her a heroine "no one but myself would like," but she endures as one of Austen's immortal creations. Charting how Emma's disastrous foray as a matchmaker precipitates a crisis in the small provincial world of Highbury, and in her own heart, this novel of self-deceit and self-discovery sparkles with intelligence, wit, and irony.

Persuasion

Edited with an Introduction by D.W. Harding

Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth had met and separated years before. Their reunion forces a recognition of the false values that drove them apart. The characters who embody those values are the subjects of some of the most withering satire that Austen ever wrote. Like its predecessors, Persuasion (published after her death in 1818) is a tale of love and marriage, told with Austen's distinctive irony and insight. But the heroine - like the author - is more mature; the tone of the writing more somber.

Also included in this edition is the pioneering biography of Austen written fifty years after her death by her nephew, J. E. Austen-Leigh, which outlines the essential facts of Austen's life while also reflecting the Victorian era's limited comprehension of her achievements.

Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon

Edited with an Introduction by Margaret Drabble

These three works - one novel unpublished in her lifetime and two unfinished fragments - reveal Austen's development as a great artist. Lady Susan is a sparkling melodrama, written in epistolary form, featuring a beautiful, intelligent, and wicked heroine. The Watsons, probably written when Austen resided unhappily in Bath and abandoned after her father's death, is a tantalizing fragment centering on the marital prospects of the Watson sisters in a small provincial town. Sanditon, Austen's last fiction, reflects her growing concern with the new speculative consumer society and foreshadows the great social upheavals of the Industrial Revolution.

Also available from Penguin Classics:

The Juvenilia of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë
Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë
Edited by Frances Beer

This collection provides the opportunity to discover the first examples of Austen's neoclassical elegance and Brontë's mastery of the romantic spirit.

Available on audiocassette from Penguin Audiobooks:

Emma
Persuasion
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
Boxed Set: Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and Pride and Prejudice

Penguin Classics wishes to thank and credit the following writers and books for information used in creating this Penguin Classics Guide:

Joseph Duffy, "Criticism 1814-70"; Brian Southam, "Criticism 1870-1940" and "Janeites and Anti-Janeites"; A. Walton Litz, "Criticism 1939-83"; J. David Grey, "Life of Jane Austen"; all in The Jane Austen Companion, J. David Grey, Managing Editor; Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1986.

Lloyd W. Brown, "The Business of Marrying and Mothering," and Norman Page, "The Great Tradition Revisited," in Jane Austen's Achievement, edited by Juliet McMaster, Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., Barnes & Noble Import Division, New York, 1976.

W. A. Craik, Jane Austen: The Six Novels, Barnes & Noble, Inc., New York, 1965.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 1908 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1912 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A well written book about absolutely nothing. A rather scathing review by Matt.

    After reading Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice", I wondered quietly to myself what exactly i took away from the novel. To be brutally honest, the answer to that question is this, not a whole lot. While Austen's writing style is clear and easy delve into, the actual storyline for the novel is severely lacking. Call it a matter of taste, but I prefer reading books where real events actually transpire, not a constant dialog between various pompous, egotistical rich people who are all trying to get a leg up in society. While this is an excellent method for developing characters, it does very little to actually develop the plot. Sure, there is the romance between Elizabeth and Darcy which is the novel's main focus, but as far as this reader is concerned there needs to be something else driving the plot as well. Many critics laud this novel as a clever commentary on society at that time, but seeing as I neither lived during nor cared about this time period, I don't include myself in the novel's target audience. Keep in mind that my poor opinions of the book do not necessarily constitute this novel as being awful, it simply doesn't appeal to people with tastes similar to mine. For those of you who think this book has potential but needs some more meat, try reading the revised version "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.

    50 out of 162 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2009

    One of the best love stories of all time!

    I recently read Pride and Prejudice to relax, and I can honestly say that it is one of the best novels I have ever read. The characters of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are well developed and enthralling. Elizabeth is the classic stubborn and brazen heroine; a no nonsense kind of girl whose personality from their first meeting rubs Mr. Darcy the wrong way. Through several different personal struggles we see these characters grow as individuals, as well as closer to each other. It is a must read for all the hopeless romantics out there.

    43 out of 53 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2008

    AWFUL

    I do not inderstand why people LOVE this book so much. It is way too long and there are way too many details. Austen rambles on and on and on about things that have no significance to the story. The story is very boring and does nothing to capture your attention. This is probaly one of the worst books I have ever read.

    34 out of 145 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2008

    Pride and Prejudice

    'It is a truth universally acknowledged that any man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of...' a copy of Pride and Prejudice. I had felt guilty that I had watched many film versions of the book before actually reading it. That being said, I grabbed a copy at Barnes and Noble and ran home to read. I'll admit that the language of Jane Austen's day can be a bit confusing at first, but after the first three chapters, I was transported to eighteenth century England, sipping tea, and watching Elizabeth bedazzle Fitzwilliam while dancing at the Netherfield ball. This is a definite must-read for any, true booklover. Bon appetit!

    32 out of 39 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Greatest Book Ever

    It is simply the greatest book ever. What else can I say?

    20 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2008

    Pride and Prejudice

    I saw the movie before I read the book. Actually, it was the movie that made me want to read the book. I'm a bit of a bookworm, and I started reading this at the end of my sophomore year (high school). I finished reading it during the summer, and I loved it. Sure, it was slow during some parts, but other than that, it was fantastic. Jane Austen was a fantastic author. I'm reading Sense and Sensibility next.

    20 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2011

    Marie White

    This is a scan of the 1894 George Allen edition. There are a lot of problems with the scanner software not being able to recognize letters, or maybe the document was just dirty, but you have to do a lot of guessing as to the words. A difficult read and not for those who have not read Pride and Prejudice before this.

    19 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    I met a woman in a bookstore who asked me for a recommendation...I told her that I enjoyed reading Carol Goodman, so she picked up her latest novel and, in turn, she recommended that I read Pride & Prejudice.

    Pride & Prejudice was an unexpected jewel. The novel is so much more than you would expect.I loved this book the first time I read it, and then watched the mini series with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. I reread the book and I am sure that I will read it many times again. Austin is brilliant!

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2008

    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

    Will they fall in love, or loath each other for all eternity? This was the question I asked myself when I was reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I was captivated by the sense of authority in her words. She (Austen) explains the simplicity and hardships of love in a very graceful way. She laced this idea of love into a young woman's everyday life. This her second novel, and by my personal choice, the best. ¿It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.¿ There, she explains the subject of her novel. She said the main subject of the book is marriage and love, and it focusses you to know that the book will include someone looking for a wife, or vise versa. In the early 1800¿s, Elizabeth is a very regular girl. With her fast reactions and wits, she can give the rudest insult without losing her light hearted tone and good nature. She and her four sisters listen anxiously as their mother, Mrs. Bennet, persuades their father, Mr. Bennet, to go meet the new men in town. That is where new characters come into the book. Of course, any girl would be anxious to marry a wealthy man. Austen wrote the book in a very controlled manner. A scene such as when Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth, is an example. She (Austen) doesn¿t set Elizabeth into hysterics, or crosses the line of how she refuses him. It is almost funny to read. Mr. Collins, through his arrogance and stubbornness, doesn¿t stop asking Elizabeth to marry him. He keeps asking even though she refused him in the best manner over and over. The quote below shows the control Austen writes into her characters. ¿I (Elizabeth) do assure you... I would rather be paid the compliment of being believed sincere. I thank you again and again for the honour you have done me in your proposals, but to accept them is absolutely impossible... Can I speak plainer? Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart.¿ The Bingely¿s (a new family in town), along with Mr. Darcy host a ball celebrating their arrival. The whole Bennet family goes, dressed in their best apparel. Elizabeth immediately talks to Mr. Bingely, and is naturally repulsed at Mr. Darcys actions. Tightlipped and non-talkative, Elizabeth soon stops conversing all together around him until she is asked to dance by one of the men. Will Mr. Darcy get jealous and ask her to dance? Elizabeth is the main character, but Austen doesn¿t tell it from Elizabeth¿s perspective. She does this on purpose. It hides any strong or sudden emotions Elizabeth may have had. Austen¿s style of writing is slightly confusing. She jumps from one character and shoreline to another. It gave you multiple views of the story, and what can be happening all at once. It was better that she wrote this way, for one because the book shows multiple people who are in love. Instead of writing from how just one character sees how other people act, and ignorant of the characters own actions, she writes how each character acts a reacts to the situations they are placed in. ¿To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence.... She attracted him more than he liked.... Particularly careful that no sign of admiration should now escape him, nothing that could elevate her with the hope of influencing his felicity..... His behaviour during the last day must have material weight in confirming or crushing it.... He scarcely spoke ten words to her.... and though they were at one time left by themselves for half an hour, he adhered most conscientiously to his book, and would not even look at her.¿ In this passage Austen shows Mr. Darcy¿s strength to resist, and his stubborn character to like anyone but himself. The writing style of the book is different than modern writers. For example: ¿When that business was over, he applied to Miss Bingley and Elizabeth for the indulgence of some music. Miss Bingley moved w

    9 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2009

    Pride and Prejudice

    I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and I thought it was a great book. It was brilliantly and beautifully written. Some of the characters were based upon people that Jane Austen¿s own life. The setting is in the 18th century and old English style writing and is historical fiction. Pride and Prejudice is a story about a poor family with five girls who are still not yet married. Mrs. Bennet very much wants her daughters to get married. When two handsome rich men go to their town there are balls and love is everywhere. Elizabeth Bennet is the second eldest girl and she is a happy and proud girl who loves to read books. Jane Bennet is the eldest of the girls and is shy and has a big heart. Mr. Darcy is a handsome rich man and is very stubborn and disagreeable. Mr. Bingley is Mr. Darcy¿s best friend and he is a complete opposite of him. He is sweet and respectful man and has a bid heart. This book is for young adults and adults. I recommend this book to you if you liked The Note Book. Pride and Prejudice was published in 1894, and has 371 pages. Do not just rush through this book; take your time to really think about the characters and the themes of love class and marriage. If you are looking for a great love story Pride and Prejudice is a great book to read.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2008

    One of the worst

    Everyone has told me that this book is the best book to read. I really disliked it. It was a real disappointment. The story was dragged out to much, and the font was tiny. i would not reccomend reading it if you are under 16, you will get bored out of your mind.

    7 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2009

    One of the Greatest Books!!!!

    This was an amazing book!! It is one of my favorites. It is about a girl named Elizabeth Bennet who takes PRIDE in her good judgments. She judges a rich, handsome, rude, new-to-town guy named Mr.(Fitzwilliam) Darcy. (Mr. Darcy has alot of PRIDE which is what I believe to be the main reason for the pride part of the title.) Through Elizabeth's PREJUDICE, she misjudges Darcy and Darcy writes all of these truths in a letter. She reads it and finds out about everything she thought. Darcy changes his attitude by becoming kind and caring. He ends up saving Elizabeth's family from disgrase and Elizabeth falls in love with Darcy. (Darcy had loved Elizabeth for at least months now and has already proposed to her once, she declined.) Darcy proposes a secound time and Elizabeth accepts. This was a really great book and it was alot better than i thought it would be. My only suggestions is to either keep notes of the characters or use an online character chart and to keep some form of a dictionary around because there are alot of uncommon words. Hope this was usefull!!!!!!!

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A Classic Everyone Should Read

    This book is a novel detailing the life and trials of a young girl and family. She is trying to find love and happiness in a world where people marry for money and status. This woman endures many trials and errors dealing with the dark sides of people and also the surprising good that is hard to find in some individuals. The book is heartwarming and carefully written, a difficult read for some, but well worth it.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2012

    Frustratingly difficult to read scanned text

    Even if you've memorized every word of this beautiful novel, it's painfully distracting trying to decipher the text.

    I have very limited income and had to save for months to buy my tablet but I had assurances from B&N staff that there were "Thousands of free books available for the Nook." Unfortunately, most of the free books I've found are either barely legible or not worth reading because they are so poorly written. The choice for my kids is worse!

    I guess I need to start saving again...just to buy books I already own in paper.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    Love the Book, but the formatting is terrible

    I love this book, but the formatting on this edition is terrible - missing entire pages, skips paragraphs and is missing words. Would not recommend

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2010

    Loved this book!

    I've been a bookworm since 5th grade (I am now 40) and this is the best book of all time! Especially if you like romance. Jane Austen is probably the most gifted writer of all time. Everyone should read this classic love story. It deals with so many issues like first impressions, lust vs. real love, integrity, sacrifice, I could go on and on. The story centers around Elizabeth, a beautiful, witty, and very opinionated young lady, and Mr. Darcy, a handsome, rich, reserved and very prideful man. You will fall in love with these characters from the beginning! But will they fall in love with each other? Jane Austen is a master story teller and her writing style is truly elegant and beautiful. A must read for everyone!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Read!!!!!

    It is a wonderful book! I highly reccomend it. Jane Austen is a first-rate author.

    4 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A True Classic

    Pride and Prejudice is truly a book everyone should read at least once in their life. Jane Austens classic tale is and will be emulated throughout movies and other novels for a very long time. It would be easier for people to understand these copycats if they had read the original. It is a great book that proves if you stay true to yourself instead of worring about what others think of you you will be just fine.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2008

    WOW!

    If a person dies without reading this book...they have missed one of the greatest pleasures that the world could give them! This book is undoubtedly my most favorite book and I would recommend it to the entire world! The spirited Lizzy, smoldering Mr. Darcy along with all the side characters are likely to keep you entertained for days together even after you have finished!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2008

    Pretty Good

    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, is a very sophisticated book. It is a great love story between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. It is very well written and definitely a classic. It was personally hard for me to get into, as it really never grabbed my attention with an intricate plot. Well, not one that I could understand. Mrs. Bennett is a HILLARIOUS character. Very bossy and always opinionated. While her husband is the complete opposite. Jane Bennett, Elizabeth's sister, is a beautiful young woman, and most commonly chosen as the favorite through out the book. Her to-become husband Mr. Bingly is also a very sweet man. Kitty and Lydia, two more sisters, could be the most annoying characters out of any book. Ever. But I do see where they could be considered necessary for the book. It's a good book to read if you enjoy more old time, literature writing styles.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1912 Customer Reviews

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