Persuasion: A Norton Critical Edition / Edition 1 available in Paperback
- Pub. Date:
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
The text of this Norton Critical Edition is that of the first edition (dated 1818 but probably issued in late 1817), which was published posthumously.
The editor has spelled out ampersands and made superscript letters lowercase.
The novel, which is fully annotated, is followed by the two canceled chapters that comprise Persuasion’s original ending.
"Backgrounds and Contexts" collects contemporary assessments of Jane Austen as well as materials relating to social issues of the period.
Included are an excerpt from William Hayley’s 1785 "Essay on Old Maids"; Austen’s letters to Fanny Knight, which reveal her skepticism about marriage as the key to happiness; Henry Austen’s memorial tribute to his famous sister; assessments by nineteenth-century critics Julia Kavanagh and Goldwin Smith, who saw Austen as an unassuming, sheltered, "feminine," rural writer; and the perspective of Austen’s biographer Geraldine Edith Mitten.
"Modern Critical Views" reflects a dramatic shift in the way that twentieth-century scholars view both Austen and Persuasion. Increasingly, the focus is on Austen's moral purposefulness and political acumen and on Persuasion's historical, social, and political implications.
A variety of perspectives are provided by A. Walton Litz, Marilyn Butler, Tony Tanner, Robert Hopkins, Ann W. Astell, Claudia L. Johnson, and Cheryl Ann Weissman.
A Selected Bibliography is also included.
About the Author
Jane Austen (1775–1817) was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature.
Patricia Meyer Spacks, Ph.D. Berkeley, is Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English at the University of Virginia. Her publications include An Argument of Images: The Poetry of Alexander Pope; The Female Imagination; The Adolescent Idea: Myths of Youth and the Adult Imagination; Desire and Truth: Functions of Plot in Eighteenth-Century English Novels; and Boredom: The Literary History of a State of Mind.
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
What People are Saying About This
"How Jane Austen can write!"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reading Jane Austen is like sitting on a lazy summer day and soaking in the sun on a grassy field. It's been such a long time since I read one of my favorite writers, and I had forgotten how enjoyable the experience can be. A friend of mine, who is also a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice, recommended this title as being one of Austen's best works. The novel is different from her others - in this case, the heroine has already discovered her true love, only to lose him to cautiousness, whereas the other books end with the unfolding of that initial love - yet it shares the writer's touch that have endeared those earlier novels to me. Her skill in crafting minor characters, and the way she views them with irony and humor yet is still affectionate with most of them (except the truly terrible ones). Her spunky and intelligent heroine, and her equally engaging male love interest. Her sharp wit. All of these characteristics are still present in this, her final novel.The story, as I mentioned above, is unusual, though. Anne and Wentworth have already met and fallen in love. They have already overcome their diverse backgrounds - he a sailor in the navy and she a daughter of landed gentry - and felt their love surpass these obstacles. They have already passed the prime of youth, even. Yet that time came and went without their happy ending. Anne acceded to the wishes of her family and friends and broke off their engagement. Not because she believed that Captain Wentworth was ill suited for her, but because she was persuaded that such a move was in the best interests of them both. Now that many years have elapsed, Anne realizes she was wrong, but feels that it is too late to rectify the situation.Fortunately for her, circumstances conspire to bring Wentworth back in her life. Anne receives that rarest of treasures: a second chance. The melancholy of the first half of the book is gradually effaced by joy and rebirth. I enjoyed my rediscovery of Austen. I wouldn't call this story equal to Pride and Prejudice, and that might just be the nostalgia talking, but it was a fine novel. I liked every page and was surprised at how quickly I read the book. Also, this was the Norton edition, which means a collection of commentary and critiques supplemented the novel. Literary geek that I am, I always get excited about the fine scholarship in Norton Critical editions. A solid addition to my library, and I am glad that I finally read the only book by Austen that was missing in my reading pursuits.
One of my favourite Austens. A book to be read, and reread, on a windy, rainy Autumn day.
All of Jane Austen's novels are wonderful in my opinion, but for me, "Persuasion" is the most brilliant of her accomplishments. There are many reasons for this. First, I like the fact that Anne and Wentworth have a past with each other, and that there was a long period of separation--I'm intrigued by the thought that things didn't get smoothed out really quickly and yet they found each other again (I'm a hopeful romantic, but I like a few bumps in the road. It just makes it more realistic). I also like that fact that the hero of the story is basically a good, middle-class bloke who made his own fortune. He had to work hard to get what he has, and that wealth means something--not just to him, but about him. He is a man of character, ambition, skill and intelligence. He may be harsh at times, but he has a good head. Because of that, he was successful. I can't say that Darcy couldn't have done the same, but it's not really a matter to be thought of in "Pride and Prejudice." Also, Wentworth is a bit more obviously flawed in the beginning of "Persuasion" than Darcy is in the beginning of "Pride and Prejudice". We know that Mr. Darcy has pride, but it is thought to be only from position. Wentworth's fault is pride too, but it is injured pride. At the same time, his bitterness at this injury is perfectly understandable. It comes from a "real" place and is even justified. He seems more human and approachable to me. I know Darcy is supposed to be somewhat mysterious, but we know Wentworth's circumstance, and because of that, I feel empathy for both Anne and Frederick. Just as bitter as Frederick is, his tenderness is just as poignant, even when he doesn't want to show it, as when he helps her into the carriage. His confession of love in the letter to Anne is full of desperation, and well, almost pain--all of the pain that he's been silently enduring for the past eight-and-a-half years. Another characteristic of the protagonists of this novel is that they are both a bit older than the usual courting couple. Life didn't end for Anne at 23. She still manages to end up with the love of her life beyond the age of 27. At the same time, she has grown a lot since she has been apart from Frederick. She's always stubborn after that first time her family persuades her not to marry Frederick. She refuses to marry Charles; and she refuses to give into her father's insistence that she go to the Carteret's. I think Anne had to suffer through one "persuasion" to learn to stand her ground later on, and if you really look, you can see that even though she can still be flexible in regard to helping her family, she cannot be made to do something against her will when it comes to her personal relationships--after the one wrenching she had from Frederic early on. She has become capable in caring for others, as if she knows those skills might be needed on board ship one day. Anne's personality falls somewhere between Elizabeth Bennet's mocking, biting playfulness and Fanny Price's quit acquiescence. Finally, "Persuasion" is just full of joyful little bits: Admiral and Mrs. Croft, the most intense love letter at the end (that I think is one of the best in literature). I love this version of the book, too, because it includes the original ending of the novel in the appendix. It often shows up in the movie versions, and I'm glad screenwriters appreciate it.
As a Jane Austen fan, I found this book to be very enjoyable. However, for those impatient for a quick story line, Persuasion is probably not the best choice. It has all the Austen wit and character development, but moves slightly slower than some of her other books, such as Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice. All in all, I enjoyed this book greatly, particularly the singular main character. Unlike the fiery Marianne Dashwood or spirited Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot is a more subdued individual, creating a different feel in the novel. I recommend this book as one that will catch you in its elegance, and make it impossible for you to put it down.