Emma (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Emma (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593081522
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 01/01/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 15,493
Product dimensions: 8.04(w) x 5.34(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English author known primarily for her six major novels set among the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Considered defining works of the Regency Era and counted among the best-loved classics of English literature, Austen’s books include Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. The latter two were published after her death.

Date of Birth:

December 16, 1775

Date of Death:

July 18, 1817

Place of Birth:

Village of Steventon in Hampshire, England

Place of Death:

Winchester, Hampshire, England

Education:

Taught at home by her father

Read an Excerpt

From Steven Marcus's Introduction to Emma

The first sentence of Emma is only less well known than the legendary opening of Pride and Prejudice. "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her." The immediate effect of this statement is to stop us, we readers, in our tracks. It is also a heads-up or alert, signaling to us as the narrator's adherents and collaborators to step up the volume and fine-tune the attentiveness that we direct toward the page. It begins with a broadside of affirmations and modulates into a conclusion that intimates serious problems may exist in the offing. Emma is very good looking in a rather striking and forceful way (not pretty or, here, beautiful); she is intelligent and quick-witted; and she is more than affluent when it comes to material means. She takes pleasure as well in the amenities of an established place in which to live, the establishment being part of a settled order in which she also feels at home. And best of all, perhaps, she is blessed with a "happy" temperament or general tone of well-being. With all these fortunate and combined bestowals, is there anything else to ask for? Well, yes—since they amount, the narrator remarks without pausing, to no more than "seemed." The dubiety carried in that ironic reservation turns the sentence around and prepares us for vexation and distress.

Emma has also reached a conventional juncture or locus of passage in the life cycle of European women and men. And this reference to numbers leads to a series of statements that informs us about how, in turn, those twenty-one years are to be regarded. Emma's mother has been dead for about sixteen years, since that is the interval during which Miss Taylor has been employed as her beloved governess—Emma's memory of her goes back to the age of five. Emma's older married sister, Isabella, is at least six years her senior, since we soon learn that she has been married for seven years and already has five children, the youngest of whom is less than a year old. It is reasonable to assume that Emma "had been mistress" of her father's house since she was about thirteen (a number that will come up later). Her father's age we will get to in a bit.

Her father and governess have raised Emma with great affection and equal indulgence. Restraint and authority have been close to absent from her experience, and she has, within this atmosphere of tenderness, permissiveness, and admiration, grown up "doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgment, but directed chiefly by her own." The consequent disadvantages of Emma's situation were "the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too much of herself." These "real evils" are at once modulated by "rather" and "a little too much." There may be forebodings, but they are neither very dark nor desperate.

The novel begins, however, with Miss Taylor's departure from the Woodhouse home of Hartfield. She has become Mrs. Weston, having just married a prosperous widower neighbor and taken up residence at Randalls, his recently purchased "little estate," only a half-mile from the Woodhouses. The wedding guests have gone, and Emma and her father are left to themselves "to dine together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long evening." Miss Taylor's wedding precipitates in Emma a "gentle sorrow." She understandably experiences Mrs. Weston's happiness as a "loss" as well, and sits in "mournful thought" pondering "what she had lost." The good fortune of her dear friend is both a source of "satisfaction" to her and yet, more questionably, "a black morning's work." The lightly stressed irony is that Emma is responding to her idealized surrogate mother's marriage as if it were an echo or shadow reenactment of her natural mother's death sixteen years before. Even more, in recent years the two of them have stood on "equal footing" and in "perfect unreserve"; to Emma, Miss Taylor has been that most rare "friend and companion," someone "peculiarly interested in herself, in every pleasure, every scheme of hers;—one to whom she could speak every thought as it arose, and . . . could never find fault."

With this approving mirror of another consciousness, another affirming yet senior female self, moving away into separateness and independence, Emma recognizes in herself the sense that things can never be the same for her again. "How was she to bear the change?" Indeed.

The "melancholy change" is compounded by Emma's awareness that "she was now in great danger of suffering from intellectual solitude. She dearly loved her father, but he was no companion for her. He could not meet her in conversation, rational or playful." Mr. Woodhouse is somewhere between sixty-five and seventy years old. Yet

the evil of the actual disparity in their ages . . . was much increased by his constitution and habits; for having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activity of mind or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years; and though every where beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper, his talents could not have recommended him at any time.Although Emma dearly loves her father, they don't have interests or resources in common. Emma loves talk, the back and forth of conversation, the playfulness of wit and the bite of argument; her father is somewhere else. He is obsessed to the point of looniness with his health; he lives in terror of the weather; drafts, heat, cold and colds, damp, snow, the dews of a summer evening all imperil him and everyone he can warn. And he is equally endangered by food: His fearful admonitions on thin gruel, pork, boiled eggs, and baked apples are the stuff of unforgettable comic turns. He has behaved as "quite an invalid" all his life and has in fact become one. He claims that he goes "no where" and is torpid and inert. He exists at such a depressed level of vitality that he seems to be far older than his years. Friendly, affectionate, and amiable as he may be, he is neither brainy nor energetic. Mr. Woodhouse is effectively old enough to be Emma's grandfather, and in the far-distant resolution of this novel he partially fills that functional role.

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Emma 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 523 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I love Pride and Prejudice the best, Emma is definitely my second favorite of Ausent's works. I prefer the story of the former novel, but other than that I can say that I love, love, absolutely love Emma. As much as I adore Mr. Darcy (Along with every other female in the world) it must be confessed that I am madly in love with Mr. Knightly, and I read the entire book just for the scenes he is in. Although Pride and Prejudice can be called perfect, I find the Declaration-of-Love scene in Emma to be much more endearing and wonderful. I find that love of Pride and Prejudice generally has to be shared, since it is such a well known story, even to the most illiterate of people. As Emma is not as ubiquitously loved, I feel like the book has a more exclusive place in my heart, and that makes me love it all the more.
SillyWillyShakespeare More than 1 year ago
Emma is a hilarious novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. As I escaped into the twists and turns of the social circle in Emma's small town, I found myself laughing, crying, berating characters, and gushing about how much I loved this book. Emma's blindness to what is going on around her in the way of love endears her even more. Emma is beautiful, charming, and what every young lady in those days ought to be. She's a dutiful daughter, and usually very proper, though she has a love of matchmaking, something she really isn't very good at. She encounters very memorable characters and finds herself in the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jane Austen is one of the most talented novelists I know of. The first book I read by Austen is Pride and Prejudice, and when I had the opportunity to read another for pleasure as well as academics, I couldn’t pass it up. The novel, Emma, consists of advanced vocabulary and complex word phrasing, but with a dictionary by my side, nothing was in my way. Once I picked it up, it was hard to put it back down. In the novel Emma, Emma Woodhouse is the only lady in the house of many men. She therefore makes all the important decisions and has a degree of power and independence. Throughout the life of Emma, there are many situations in which any typical teenage girl can relate to. Emma doesn’t believe in finding her so called soul mate, so she meddles with others’ to help them find theirs. Regardless, she is admired and respected by all. One of the most powerful messages I acquired from this novel is learning that you cannot prevent the inevitable. Whatever road you are on is the one you are meant to take. To get to the man of her dreams, Mr. Knightley, it wasn't quite the simplest road ever. She goes through five weddings, a half-dozen major misunderstandings, and 400 pages pass before she learns of it, but Emma's ending is as happy and triumphant as the close of Pride and Prejudice. In the beginning of the book up until about the 250 page mark, the story is somewhat slow, but as Emma discovers that her love matchmaking isn’t quite working out for her, Mr. Knightley’s charm speeds up the book. Although the language is somewhat difficult to interpret, it's worth the read. The story is witty, charming and full of loveable characters. I guarantee that you will have the hardest time putting the book down. Although Emma is one of the longer books Jane Austen has written, it is inspirational in every way from beginning to end. It is a comedy of Emma as she learns to find her happily ever after. Emma is, without a doubt, one of the best books I have read in a very long time. I rarely ever have the time to pick up a well written book and read it from front to back, but I can honestly say that this book fulfilled that need; definitely a good book to pick up on a rainy weekend.
Zipperhips More than 1 year ago
I loved Emma. Then again, I also loved Clueless, and guess which one was easier to get through?
Vovo More than 1 year ago
Emma Woodhouse is a character who is wealthy, prejudiced, witty yet ignorant, innocent yet blameable, and altogether lovely. She is admired by her friends and held in doting compassion by all of her readers. When Emma seeks to aid her poor, orphaned friend Harriet Smith in finding a rich husband, she sets herself up for learning a few very difficult life lessons. She learns what it is to be humbled, to be wrong, to be accused, and, ultimately, to be forgiven. Jane Austen had a knack for writing good, clean romances with somewhat surprising endings. In Pride and Prejudice, there is an elopement. In Sense and Sensibility, there is a canceled engagement. In Emma, there is a secret engagement between two characters which is not revealed until the end. It is very common knowledge that Austen did not believe her readers would like her Emma. Despite what the authoress may have originally thought, Emma is still in print after two hundred years of being enjoyed by generation upon generation of readers. The story is beautiful, imaginative, and realistic- a story that people of every age can fully appreciate. Emma Woodhouse seems to be perfect. She is attractive, wealthy, and graceful. She visits the poor, attends church, and nourishes her friendships. But, like all mankind, she has little flaws hiding beneath her bonnet. She harbors a high opinion of herself and of her intellect. She feels that she is capable of speaking things into existence. She learns, as we all do, that her whims and fancies must be bridled. She learns that her opinions are not superior and that she does not possess power over love. I greatly enjoyed reading Emma. She was someone I could relate to, understand, laugh at, cry with, and applaud in the end.
Smiler69 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This great classic of early 19th century English literature tells the story of Emma Woodhouse, a wealthy young woman of twenty-one years of age who has all the desirable attributes of beauty, intelligence and good breeding on her side, but has no intentions of marrying. She likes to think of herself as a talented matchmaker and decides to take young Harriet, a trusting and unsophisticated, though very pretty girl, under her wing. She proposes to educate Harriet and teach her the refinements of the upper classes to prepare her for a brilliant match to a real gentleman. Emma is a heroine that many readers find unpleasant, and her archness and snobbery combined with willfulness and naiveté certainly set her up for humbling experiences. Though I can't say I thought her especially likeable, I did think her rather amusing and I found the process by which Emma grows into womanhood to be delightful. Even the predictable ending was gratifying, which I should mention to those who don't know me, signals a great change in my attitude towards Jane Austen's work. I should say that I would probably never have appreciated, nor rated this novel so highly if it weren't for the excellent tutoring of an LT member who explained patiently and at length some of the historical elements and customs which most modern readers such as myself weren't aware of. This in turn gave me a much greater appreciation for all the subtleties and humour in the play on social conventions which Austen is most known for.
TadAD on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Jane Austen's humorous portrayal of a spoiled, but likeable, young woman whose ill-considered interferences in the romantic lives of her social circle is delightfully funny. Much less serious than Pride and Prejudice, Emma is full of charming wit as the author pokes fun at all and sundry of her characters. I found the ever-fretting Mr. Woodhouse to be one of the funniest characters I've ever encountered in literature, the voluble Miss Bates quite comic, and the captious Mrs. Elton the pretentious bore I love to despise.In one sense, the novel is a fairly predictable series of romantic confusions and misconceptions¿reminding me of a comedy from Shakespeare or Sheridan. Emma has such a high opinion of her own infallibility and matchmaking ability, and yet is so patently bad at it, that the reader can always see the next pitfall as she blunders along. However, the charm and humor the author has invested in the work keep us viewing her with affectionate indulgence.If your only encounter is with pale imitations such as the movie "Clueless", I really recommend a try at this novel.
robble on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I love the way in which Austin rips her society to shreads good-naturedly. Mr. Knightly is comperable to Mr. Darcy. But where is the romance?
emanate28 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This was my first Jane Austen book, and also the first book that I ever owned (my grandfather got it for me when I was born), although definitely not the first book that I read (it took me 14-15 years for that). Because Emma isn't as perfect as Elizabeth Bennett (Pride & Prejudice) or Anne Wentworth (Persuasion), it's a little harder to like her completely. In fact, I found her annoying at first. But over time, one grows to appreciate Emma's complexity and how real she is. Definitely Austen's most mature work.
WomblingStar on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I love Austen, and this book is one of her best. The character of Emma is great. She is a fun person and really human. She is a romantic that wants everyone to be happy, but makes so many mistakes along the way. I like the era the novel is set in, with everyone very much set in their social status. The other characters are great, my favourite being Miss Bates.
Wanderlust_Lost on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This novel, possibly Austen's best, is full of vivid characters, romance, and foolish confusion. Emma, the title character, is a young lady of high standing in her village and is preoccupied with matchmaking and other people's relationships yet firmly insistent that she will never marry herself. She is so intent on penetrating others' hearts and minds that she neglects her own and is completely oblivious to what she really wants and how she really feels.Her errors in judgement and perception bring about amusing and sometimes painful results.Although I must say that Persuasion is probably my favourite Austen I think that Emma is probably her best. The most ironic and satirical of her works, Emma has an edge that other Austen works lack. Perhaps it was Jane's own stage of life and circumstances combined with her failing health that urged her to write a novel with such a damning portrayal of certain common society types. While Austen did always aim to poke fun at those she saw as silly, dissolute, foppish, foolish, or snobbish this novel is different in that the faults of characters with those traits are more clearly shown and bitingly criticised.I like it and I like it.
SimoneA on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The thing I like most about Emma is the fact that she is not perfect, like a lot of other novel characters. What adds to that, is the fact that, as a reader, you pick up on a lot of things that Emma doesn't realize, so you can sort of gloat about her naivety. The mini-series that was recently made is very good, and for me added to the fun I had while rereading the book.
A.G. on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I have just finished reading this book and I really enjoyed it. Jane Austen is one of my favourite writers and Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books. Thus, I decided to read this book and I must say that I was not at all disappointed. Emma is an interesting character, and even though she seems to have it all (she is ¿handsome, clever, and rich¿), she still has some flaws that make her likeable and that make the plot engaging. The reader observes from the beginning that the protagonist is rather spoiled and that she overestimates her own matchmaking skills. She thinks that she has the talent to find suitable husbands for her friends. However, as the story proceeds, one can see that she has no real talent for matchmaking and that she rather causes a lot of heartache and misunderstandings. That¿s because she thinks highly of herself and doesn¿t want to listen to anybody. In the end, she realizes the damage she has done and realizes that she is in love. Emma undergoes an emotional transformation and acknowledges her faults and that¿s why I like her so much. Overall, I really like the book because of its themes, the likable characters and the plot.
bleached on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Jane Austen's finest. Her language and imagery is vivid and exquisite as always. However, the plot in Emma is so much more extravagant with its twists, turns, and love triangles. It is no wonder that novelists and movie makers today are still trying to match it's genius and modernizing it as they did with Clueless.It is easy to see why Jane Austen has remained one the of the best authors of all time.
vibrantminds on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Emma Woodhouse is delusional living in her contemporary society of Highbury, England. Caught up in her own conceit of being a "good doer" she makes judgment calls that in the end benefit no one and only cause a myriad of problems to arise. She becomes tangled up in match making only to find herself falling in love which she swore never to do. Most of her problems could simply be avoided if she would have just kept her nose out of other people's business. In the end everything comes together and all live happily ever after as always.
mandolin82 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
My favorite book by my favorite author.
brenzi on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I¿m sure much has been written about the longevity of Jane Austen¿s works of proper English life during the early 19th century, but you have to wonder why, at this time, her novels of keen social commentary immersed in drawing room drama and provincial balls, continue to enjoy such a wide readership. When you consider the lack of manners today, it¿s hard to understand why so many of us enjoy her social commentary of a time long past. But enjoy them we do and Emma is no exception.Emma Woodhouse proudly proclaims to all who will listen that she never intends to marry. Rather she spends her young life meddling in those of others, mainly playing matchmaker, to mostly disastrous results. Nothing seems to stop her though, to the detriment especially of her young, decidedly lower class, friend Harriet. Emma¿s object is to raise Harriet¿s station in life. Early on in the book, I did not find Emma appealing at all. I mean, she was methodically destroying Harriet¿s life. For someone who was so obviously aware of the importance of the English hierarchy regarding class, it never occurred to Emma that by matching Harriet with a young man of higher station she would thereby lower his and that just wasn¿t going to happen as her friend, Mr. Knightly, points out.At any rate, Emma cannot be convinced of her own folly and along the way we are treated to Austen¿s trademark satire and biting wit. She doesn¿t fail to provide for a few deliciously drawn supporting characters including Emma¿s father, who is scared of his own shadow and the possibility that someone, anyone will suffer from the fatal effects of a draft; his neighbor Miss Bates, whose non-stop chatter absolutely grates on the nerves and the obsequious prattler Mrs. Elton. How these people exist and even thrive in each other¿s company is beyond the pale. A conversation between Emma and Mrs. Elton went like this:¿¿My brother and sister will be enchanted with this place. People who have extensive grounds themselves are always pleased with anything in the same style.¿ Emma doubted the truth of this sentiment. She had a great idea that people who had extensive grounds themselves cared very little for the extensive grounds of anybody else, but it was not worthwhile to attack an error so double-dyed.¿As the narrative progresses Austen tosses the omniscient reader bits of information that enable you to piece together the clues and come to the proper conclusion. My early misgivings about Emma are soon overcome as I realize that she actually considers her meddling to be a service and, at heart, she is trying to help poor Harriet. Once again when Mr. Knightley points out her faulty thinking it becomes apparent that Emma is actually ¿faultless in spite of all her faults.¿ This made her endearing to me although Austen claimed before the book was even written, ¿I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.¿ Well, I liked her and loved her tale. Highly recommended.
lizzybeans11 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This is another one of those classic books that I love to read every now-and-then. The first time I tried to read it without having any prior knowledge of the plot, I had trouble keeping all the characters straight (name changes and using only surnames is difficult to follow sometimes). I find that to be true of many period novels. However, after watching a few film and TV versions it's much easier and I picked up on the little nuances of the relationships. This story definitely makes for a great screenplay, but I adore the novel as well.
hoxierice on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Not my favorite Jane Austen, but still enjoyable, interesting and fun. I like the issues of finances and livelihood that appear in her other books. While Emma herself has none of of those problems or concerns it in a way makes her harder to be "liked" by the reader and she is likable, so that says something! While I enjoyed reading all of it, the language and the emotional lives and stores, I sometimes wondered if it was unnecessarily long. Nah, probably just right, not "too many notes".One thing that has nothing to do with the book. What is that picture on the front? (Of my copy) Maybe it is supposed to express the type of woman Emma is, but I don't like it because is not period. The book, published in 1816 and the painting (I did some research) was done in 1845. Cothing in 1816 and in 1845...completely different!
jmundale on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Austen is such a craftsman with words, but I do not find her plot lines that interesting. Still it is a pleasure to read such a well crafted narrative. I liked "Pride and Prejudice" better. She would be my favorite author should she write about war and violence.
fromthecomfychair on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This audiobook version of Emma was outstanding, due to the vocal talents of Prunella Scales, a British actress who some Americans will remember as the wife in "Fawlty Towers." She brings Emma and her family, friends, and neighbors to life in aural technicolor. Her rendition of the ailing Mr. Woodhouse, who finds everyone around him to be "poor miss so-and-so" for reasons that anyone else would rejoice at (such as the marriage of Miss Taylor, Emma's governess) is hilarious. And Miss Bates, the garrulous but kind-hearted spinster who barely pauses for breath when she speaks, is, well, breathtaking. Made the hours spent on the highway fly by. Was sorry to hear it end!
eljabo on LibraryThing 7 months ago
OK - thankfully, it got better. The first part of the book was torturous - Emma was an unbearable snobbish brat. The book improved once Jane Fairfax and Frank Church entered the picture. And I must confess a major crush on Mr. Knightley.I think I read too much, however, because I knew who was going to hook up with who from the very beginning. I had all the couples properly paired -- maybe I should be a matchmaker!Emma was bratty - although she seemed to improve a bit by the end. I'm glad I don't have to hang out with her in real life, but at least she demonstrated some redeeming qualities.
Helena81 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Very enjoyable, Emma is a beguiling character. I didn't love it like I do Pride and Prejudice, however, hence the four stars. Emma is no Elizabeth Bennett. There's also rather a lot of misunderstandings throughout the book (for instance, Emma believing Harriet to be in love with Frank Churchill), a plot device I find irritating in books and movies. Nonetheless, a very enjoyable read.
LostVampire on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A wonderful book. You will thoroughly enjoy reading this book.
MsNikki on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Did it in school and never loved it as much as I loved Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.Still a funny, engaging well-written book that is on my re-read list.