Persuasion

Persuasion

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Overview

Published posthumously in 1818, Persuasión completes the cycle of novels with which beloved English writer Jane Austen helped define the feminist literary canon and set the foundation for the 19th century novel and beyond. This tale of patient love and second chances is a fine testament to Austen’s maturity as a storyteller and social commentator, and a powerful reflection on freedom of choice and the passage of time.
 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780141439686
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/15/2003
Series: Penguin Classics Series
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 83,560
Product dimensions: 5.09(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: 1120L (what's this?)

About the Author

In the history of literature, few female authors have attained the enduring popularity of Jane Austen (1775-1817). Her exquisite, finely tuned novels have captivated readers for two hundred years, and her reputation shows no signs of diminishing, fuelled by high-profile TV and film adaptations of her writing. The substance of her work, and the source of her appeal, is quintessentially English. She takes the reader into the subtle cultural, linguistic and romantic codes of nineteenth-century English society, and in doing so creates some of literature's favourite heroes and heroines.




Judith John (Glossary) is a writer and editor specializing in literature and history. A former secondary school English Language and Literature teacher, she has subsequently worked as an editor on major educational projects, including English A: Literature for the Pearson International Baccalaureate series. Judith's major research interests include Romantic and Gothic literature, and Renaissance drama.

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

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Chapter I
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Persuasion"
by .
Copyright © 2003 Jane Austen.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

About Longman Cultural Editions About This Edition Introduction

Introduction

Table of Dates

Jane Austen Biography

Persuasion

Volume I

Volume II

Original Ending

Contexts

Biographical Notice of the Author by Henry Austen

Jane Austen's Letters to Her Sister, Cassandra

Money From the 1790s to the Regency

On Women and Men

Thomas Gisborne, from An Enquiry Into the Duties of the Female Sex

Thomas Gisborne, from An Enquiry Into the Duties of Men in the Higher

and Middle Classes of Society in Great Britian

Lord Byron, from Don Juan, Canto I

Lord Byron, from The Giaour

The Novel and Romance

Frances Burney, Preface to Evelina

Clara Reeve, from The Progress of Romance

Jane Austen, from Northanger Abbey

Reviews and Other Ninteenth-Century Responses

From the Quarterly Review (Walter Scott) and The Champion on Emma

Contemporary Reviews of Persuasion

Anonymous Reviewer, from The British Critic

Anonymous Reviewer, from Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine

Richard Whatley, from the Quarterly Review

Later Responses

Anonymous Reviewer, from the Retrospective Review

Julie Kavanagh, from English Women of Letters

Further Reading

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen's most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?

On the most basic level Persuasion is a love story, both interesting and entertaining, rich in intrigue and romance. On a deeper level it examines human foibles and societal flaws. The question of the importance of propriety is raised frequently, as is the issue of appearance versus reality.

Readers of Persuasion will discover Austen's talents on full display: her skill for delicate, ironic observations on social custom, love, and marriage nor her ability to apply a sharp focus lens to English manners and morals.


ABOUT JANE AUSTEN

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, at Steventon near Basingstoke, the seventh child of the rector of the parish. She lived with her family at Steventon until they moved to Bath when her father retired in 1801. After his death in 1805, she moved around with her mother; in 1809, they settled in Chawton, near Alton, Hampshire. Here she remained, except for a few visits to London, until in May 1817 she moved to Winchester to be near her doctor. There she died on July 18, 1817.

As a girl Jane Austen wrote stories, including burlesques of popular romances. Her works were only published after much revision, four novels being published in her lifetime. These are Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816). Two other novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published posthumously in 1818 with a biographical notice by her brother, Henry Austen, the first formal announcement of her authorship. Persuasion was written in a race against failing health in 1815-16. She also left two earlier compositions, a short epistolary novel, Lady Susan, and an unfinished novel, The Watsons. At the time of her death, she was working on a new novel, Sanditon, a fragmentary draft of which survives.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • Sir Walter is disturbed because he doesn't like the way his "heir presumptive" has acted in the past. Why do you think he can't just leave his money, title, and estate to his daughters?
  • To what extent do you agree with Sir Walter on the value of rank and consequence?
  • What do you think led Anne to acquiesce to her family's wishes? Should families have a say in whom their children marry?
  • What does the book illustrate about how naval men view women? What assumptions are they making about women?
  • Captain Wentworth and Anne are constantly in each other's company. What keeps them from speaking honestly to each other? Would you invite two people who had once been engaged to the same social gathering? Both the Captain and Anne are very polite to each other. How might things be different today?
  • The Crofts are portrayed as one of the few happily married couples in the novel. What is it about their relationship that seems so different from the other relationships portrayed in the book?
  • What seems to make Mary happy? Why might women at the time of the novel have focused on such things?
  • What does Anne's relationship with Mrs. Smith suggest to you about Anne? How does her father react to these visits? Why?
  • Austen writes of Captain Benwick: "His reading has done him no harm, for he has fought as well as read." What does this statement indicate about what was important at this time? To what extent have attitudes changed in our time?
  • Captain Harville claims men do not quickly forget about the women they love while Anne claims the same for women. Do you believe men and women differ in their capacities to love and in remaining true to the one they love?
  • Anne believes she was right to be "persuaded" by Lady Russell not to marry Captain Wentworth when he proposed years earlier. Explain her reasoning. Do you agree with her?
  • Austen wrote Persuasion as her health was failing, hurrying to finish it before her death. Do you find the novel's narrative carries any sense of urgency or sentimentality, or any other indication of what the author herself was going through as she wrote it?
  • What was Jane Austen most critical of in her society? What are you most critical of in the modern world?
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