“It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.” Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
It continues to be a delightful fortune to live in an age where so much is (still) being written, researched, and explored about English novelist Jane Austen, her times, her works, and her life, almost 200 years after her death. We Janeites take our study very seriously and never tire in reading, writing, and talking about her.
Last year, I wrote a blog post highlighting new publications in Austen scholarship; this year, I do the same once again (and, most likely, will continue to do so annually just for the sheer fun of it). As before, these selections are either biographical or critical analyses and do not include fictional continuations or spin-offs of Austen’s novels (although see below for an exciting event coming later this month).
Persuasion: An Annotated Edition, edited by Robert Morrison. This gorgeous coffee table-sized book is filled with illustrations and maps printed on beautiful paper. It goes into great detail and description–there is no such thing as too much information for the Austen student–on settings, themes, unfamiliar words (and contexts), etiquette and customs, fashion, geography, and much more.
The Annotated Emma by David M. Shapard. Professor Shapard is annotating his way through all of Austen’s novels–the library owns his annotations of Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice. Like the previous title, Shapard explores all aspects of Austen’s acknowledged masterpiece in its historical context in minute detail with elegant insight; a real treat.
Pride and Prejudice edited by Laurence W. Mazzeno. A deliciously large book of essays published by Salem Press (part of their Critical Insights series) on what is considered Austen’s most popular novel, though she herself thought it “too light and bright and sparkling.”*
Jane Austen’s Letters (4th edition) edited by Deirdre Le Faye. The Austen scholar updates her earlier edition of the painfully few letters Austen left behind (or, should we say, her sister Cassandra didn’t destroy?). This edition updates notes to the letters reflecting more information discovered since the 1995 edition, expands the biographical and topical indexes, and adds a new subject index. The letters reveal Austen’s often sarcastic wit and intelligent discourse on events of her day, books she was reading, daily errands and tasks, and people that she knew. Sample: “Mrs. Hall, of Sherborne, was brought to bed yesterday of a dead child, some weeks before she expected, owing to a fright. I suppose she happened unawares to look at her husband.” [ouch!]
May, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen’s Nieces in Ireland by Sophia Hillan. Austen’s older brother, Edward, was adopted by the Austens’ well-to-do friends (the Knights); thus, he inherited great estates as well as wealth. This is the story of three of his daughters who settled in Ireland, far from their English country home.
Jane Austen & Company: Essays edited by Bruce Stovel. The late Canadian English professor admired Austen above all other authors he studied and taught. This collection of essays features four analyzing themes of ambivalence, pleasure, structure, and conversation in the novels.
And now for the exciting event! Please join us on June 30 at 3pm at Main Library in the Quiet Reading Room on the First Floor to hear author (and entrepreneur) Sandy Lerner (AKA Ava Farmer, author of the new novel, Second Impressions) speak about her novel and her founding of the Chawton House Library in England.**
*Letter to her sister, Cassandra, February 4, 1813.
**Chawton Cottage was Austen’s last home before her death in 1817.