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Pride And Prejudice

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Overview

Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman, living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.

Though the story is set at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a...

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Overview

Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman, living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.

Though the story is set at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of 'most loved books' such as The Big Read. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen's memorable characters or themes. To date, the book has sold some 20 million copies worldwide.

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.
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: 9781466233867
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/16/2011
  • Pages: 410
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 - 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature. Her realism, biting irony and social commentary have gained her historical importance among scholars and critics.
Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer. Her artistic apprenticeship lasted from her teenage years into her thirties. During this period, she experimented with various literary forms, including the epistolary novel which she then abandoned, and wrote and extensively revised three major novels and began a fourth. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon, but died before completing it.
Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century realism. Her plots, though fundamentally comic, highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Her works, though usually popular, were first published anonymously and brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew's A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer. The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture.

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

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 55685 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2009

    Read this Book! It is AMAZING!!

    I just finished reading this book and was captivated by the way the cahracters and plot was portrayed. I will never forget this book and it is one of my all time favorite books. I have found that even though there were hard times for the Bennets, I want to have something exactly like Elizabeth Bennet and be just like her. She is now my all time favorite fictional character. I highly encourage reading this book.

    74 out of 105 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted March 24, 2009

    Love the original, don't like this edition

    I have read 'Pride and Prejudice' at least fifty times, and I picked up this copy so that I could have an easy-to-carry one for my bag. However I didn't take a close look at it and didn't realize it had footnotes - which, at first glance, one would take to be helpful - but actually are so obvious that they are unneeded. The editor does explain some helpful things such as card games but some terms which need no explanation (really, who can't figure out that se'ennight means week?) just interrupt the flow of the text.
    I also found the modernizations of spellings to be irritating and distracting - another unnecessary change by the editor.
    I would not recommend this edition of 'Pride and Prejudice' but would certainly encourage anyone to read it in its original spelling and with more judicious editing.

    30 out of 47 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2009

    Great book for EVERYONE!!!

    When i first heard of the book, i was under the assumption that is was an adult novel and that i wouldn't enjoy it. However, after reading it, as an 8th grader, for a challenge, i fell in love with it. I will be the first to admit that it took me 2 whole weeks to read this as where i usually only take about 2 days. It was a bit hard to understand at first, but eventually you got used to the writing and words she used. Overall, it is an epic love story and of course a classic. I recommend this book to anyone over the age of 12. It is simply amazing :)

    20 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    HOLY MACKEREL!!

    omg this book is absolutely fantastically amazing!!!!!!
    JANE AUSTEN IS THE BEST WRITER IN THE LAST 200 YRS!!!!!
    my mom read the book and she said it was really good!!!
    i also saw parts of the movie w/ keira knightley in it!
    I HAVE 2 WORDS 4 ANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAVEN'T YET READ THIS:
    GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    19 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Oh man, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy... probably one of the most famous couples

    The book was pretty boring and eh-ish, until Mr. Darcy proposed to Elizabeth and she, in return, told him off about his devilish and rude nature. When Elizabeth found out how wrong she was, and Mr. Darcy wrote a letter back to her, with no traces of contempt, I was touched.
    It was so romantic, how they ended up together again <3

    I'm reading 'Persuasion' now, and so far, I'm having the same outlook as I had with 'Pride and Prejudice' (boring at first, then good).

    11 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2008

    Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice - A novel that has survived the ages

    The plot of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen revolves around, well, pride and prejudice. This novel tells the tale of the convoluted romance of Mister Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth `Lizzy¿ Bennet. Basically, Darcy¿s pride prevents him from showing his true feelings for Elizabeth, and Lizzy¿s prejudice against men keeps her from truly falling in love. Many people have often speculated that Austen¿s inspiration for this story came from one of her own experiences. <BR/> I decided to read Pride and Prejudice after seeing the 2005 version of the movie in eighth grade. I loved the movie, but I loved the book even more. It has become one of my favorites! I would definitely recommend it to my friends. However, men might not be particularly enthralled by it because it is mostly a romance. Also, I don¿t recommend it to people who don¿t like slow or wordy books. I personally don¿t like books that are incredibly fast-paced, and one of the things that appeals to me about Pride and Prejudice is the fact that it moves fairly slowly. Still, this is not a boring book by any means. So much happens in its 61 chapters! <BR/> This story may also appeal to anyone who has ever been in an awkward or uncomfortable situation with someone that they are somewhat attracted to. Readers can practically feel the uncomfortable atmosphere in several of Elizabeth and Darcy¿s early encounters. For example, while at a ball, Lizzy remarks, ¿It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy. I talked about the dance, and you ought to make some kind of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples¿ (Chapter 18). Darcy responds by saying that they can talk about whatever she chooses, but he makes no effort to stimulate the conversation, so they remain silent. <BR/> The protagonists of the story are Charles Bingley, Fitzwilliam Darcy, and the Bennet family. The leaders of the Bennet family are rational Mr. Bennet and foolish Mrs. Bennet, who thinks only of finding wealthy men for her daughters to marry. This is the tale of the courtships of the Bennet girls: beautiful and gentle Jane, clever Lizzy, reclusive Mary, silly Kitty, and headstrong Lydia. The story begins with the incorrigible Mrs. Bennet demanding that her husband introduce the family to wealthy Mr. Bingley, who has just moved to Netherfield Park, in the village of Longbourn, where the Bennet residence can also be found. Mrs. Bennet hopes that Bingley will marry one of her daughters. The Bennet family forms a friendship with Mr. Bingley, his sister Caroline, and their friend, Mr. Darcy. In the mean time, the Bennets also become acquainted with one George Wickham, Darcy¿s estranged childhood friend. The novel is filled with twisting and turning courtships, and deceitful schemes to both separate and unite various couples. <BR/> Personally, Jane Austen¿s Pride and Prejudice, is one of my absolute favorite books. I know that few teenagers share my taste in literature, but I recommend it to everyone. I would rather you at least give it a try and put it down because you hate it than not try it at all. Who knows, you just might like it, and it could become one of your favorite books! <BR/><BR/>Check out this and other reviews by high school students at www.notrequiredreading.com!

    10 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Graham hated this book

    Super super loser book !!! I hated it !!!

    8 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2013

    Pretty bad

    So bad could'nt get past the first page… $$$$$

    (")_(")
    ( •.• )
    (")-(") bunny rabbit

    8 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012

    For those who want romance without the sex

    One thing this book reminds me of is the inability of the modern author to address romance without sex. No doubt, even in the day of Austen, the characters would have at least been exposed to intrigues of the physical kind but the pitfalls of such are rightly disregarded.

    Instead, the book focuses on how we fashion love with a chosen partner. The idea that two people are so alike as to reduce the stress of life or so different as to meet the necessary stress needed to carry on with life is presented. It is not a story of how opposites attract nor is it a story of unbridled passion begging for unwanted pregnancy. It is the story of what people believe they want, how they discover what they actually want, and the humility BOTH sides must face in order to get it. It is not the story of one man chasing down a woman to the peril of allof his worldly possessions, social connections, or his own convictions. It is not the story of a woman who is solely dedicated to her job, consumed by her family, scarred by a broken past, or brainless. Instead, it is a story about a man who learns to understand the balance of his power in the world and the trust he can instill in another human being. It is a story about a woman who sees the world as it is and learns to ask better questions before rushing to judgment. The love they share is not based on the size of his manhood or the pleasing sounds she makes during coitus or the size of anyone's bank account. The attraction to one another is incidental and neither party began with a sinister plot or sought to ruin anyoneelse's life. It's a story of how circumstances tie two people together and what they are willing to do for one another. It's a story about how easy finding love can be when you're paying attention, asking the right questions, and getting over yourself.

    This is the only romance novel I have read because it is the closest to the truth of what it means to be romantic.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    Huge Jane Austen fan

    I adore anything by Jane Austen, but Pride and Prejudice must be my all time favorite. Great plot, loveable characters, drama and action. Very good book.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted October 11, 2012

    Confused!%(

    I dont like this book but they gave it to me for free
    Also i dont how to get it out of my library
    :( HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    5 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 11, 2011

    Bad+copy%0ABad+copy

    This+copy+has+many+mistakes+and+often+looks+like+jibberish.%0A

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted May 12, 2009

    An awesome novel

    I really enjoyed Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. When the book picked up speed I couldn't wait to finish it. However, the first fourth of the book was pretty slow and I didn't want to read it. All throughout the book I found myself rooting for Elizabeth. I'm not usually this drawn in by books. It proves that Austen created very realistic characters that I couldn't help but root for as if I knew them personally. On the other hand, she did a wonderful job at creating characters that were unpleasant. Miss Bingley in particular I couldn't stand after a few chapters. Again, I usually don't hate characters either so once again Ms. Austen did a great job in creating life like characters. My favorite part of the book was that it ended happily. I'm a person that prefers the characters all ending up happy instead of someone being upset in the end. Jane and Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy getting married made me very happy. For a while I thought Jane and Mr. Bingley weren't going to get married and I became a little nervous. Ms. Austen didn't disappoint me though, and she ended the book on a happy note. Basically, I enjoyed this novel a lot and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading.

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    Ummm...

    Well i just stated this book and it ia way CONFUSING. Im usually an advanced reader, but this book wasted my 7 past years of grade school trying to become a better reader! I never know whose talkig and always have to go back to fugure it out. There are so many big words and old english writing. I keep having to look up the words to know what they mean. Definetly would not recommemd this for any kid that thinks its a "classic, so it has to be good right!!" WRONG!!! Im not even past page 100 and its boring. And whats up with the super long intro? No one wants to read that crap. Its likes reading a king james bible, you try to read it but it just wont compreemd in your head. I will try to do my best to finish it. But i wouldnt recommend it to anyone. Well idk i gues i shoul try reading it. But i bet it will still suck. Thank you for reading my honest review.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted March 12, 2013

    This book is Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat

    I love this book, i wish that i could get all of her books free.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted March 2, 2013

    Pride beats pregatist

    This book isnt that good but if u like politics or whatever

    4 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2012

    HATE THIS BOOK

    THIS BOOK IS DUMB AND STUPID

    4 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted September 2, 2012

    Funny book

    I have avoided reading "classics" ever since I graduated from high school because we were reading to analyze, not to enjoy. My thought was always, "How doe they know that's what the author meant? Aren't they just saying what THEY mean?".

    Once I decided to read this, I was hooked. Very amusing, great characters (some greatly stupid), written so that you can actually understand the language. VERY recommended.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2012

    Not the best at all

    4 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 23, 2011

    Horrible

    It is absolutly horrible! It is not the story only symbols!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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