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Jane Austen's Letters 4th Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199576074
ISBN-10: 0199576076
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Editorial Reviews


"These are the letters of our greatest novelist. They give glances and hints at her life from the age of 20 to her death at 41, the years in which she wrote her six imperishable books."
--Claire Tomalin, Independent on Sunday

"For this volume Le Faye has expanded the annotations and updated the biographical and topographical indexes...It is largely thanks to Deirdre Le Faye's masterful editions that Jane Austen's correspondence can be read with ease. Le Faye's work combines a meticulous compilation of data about the physical attributes and provenance of the letters with annotations and indexes that allow us to read over Austen's shoulder as she shares everyday news and frank opinions with family and friends." --JASNA News

About the Author

Deirdre Le Faye, now retired, worked for many years in the Department of Medieval & Later Antiquities at the British Museum. She started researching the life and times of Jane Austen and her family in the 1970s, and since then has written several books about them, the latest being A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family 1600-2000, as well as numerous articles in literary journals.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 4 edition (December 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199576076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199576074
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 2.2 x 5.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Though the domain of Jane Austen's novels was as circumscribed as her life, her caustic wit and keen observation made her the equal of the greatest novelists in any language. Born the seventh child of the rector of Steventon, Hampshire, on December 16, 1775, she was educated mainly at home. At an early age she began writing sketches and satires of popular novels for her family's entertainment. As a clergyman's daughter from a well-connected family, she had an ample opportunity to study the habits of the middle class, the gentry, and the aristocracy. At twenty-one, she began a novel called "The First Impressions" an early version of Pride and Prejudice. In 1801, on her father's retirement, the family moved to the fashionable resort of Bath. Two years later she sold the first version of Northanger Abby to a London publisher, but the first of her novels to appear was Sense and Sensibility, published at her own expense in 1811. It was followed by Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815). After her father died in 1805, the family first moved to Southampton then to Chawton Cottage in Hampshire. Despite this relative retirement, Jane Austen was still in touch with a wider world, mainly through her brothers; one had become a very rich country gentleman, another a London banker, and two were naval officers. Though her many novels were published anonymously, she had many early and devoted readers, among them the Prince Regent and Sir Walter Scott. In 1816, in declining health, Austen wrote Persuasion and revised Northanger Abby, Her last work, Sandition, was left unfinished at her death on July 18, 1817. She was buried in Winchester Cathedral. Austen's identity as an author was announced to the world posthumously by her brother Henry, who supervised the publication of Northanger Abby and Persuasion in 1818.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
i am an owner of the 3rd edition of LeFaye's collection of Austen's letters in hardcover. It is one of my most prized volumes in my Austen library which includes the most recent Cambridge annotated editions. Here LeFaye essentially builds on R.W. Chapman's editorial work that dates back to the 1920s.

While the actual content of most of the letters is fairly innocuous (Jane's sister Cassandra having purged her correspondence of anything that might cause scandal or embarassment to the living), the sharp wit and feisty personality of Jane Austen remains intact. The cumulative effect is one that leaves the reader only wanting more -- more which sadly we are only left to imagine but never to know.

I will order the new edition, if only to see what new commentary might be offered. LeFaye's work is meticulous and informed and her status as an Austen authority is widely acknowledged. I give her work 5 stars but reserve a single star for Amazon's rating system which seems to lump all editions under a single stew of ratings without differentiating between editions. If you look closely at the reviews listed here, the poor ones are not for the LeFaye edition (my 3rd edition hardcover is ruggedly clothbound with sewn-in pages -- very high quality) but for the cheap paper abridgements you find elsewhere. If you want a volume to last, this is it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are some real problems with the paperback editions, and luckily I read about them before deciding to purchase the hardcover fourth edition of this book, which has all the letters in date order, with copious annotations and indices for the scholar. I've been reading and re-reading Austen's novels for decades and somehow missed her letters. What a treasure trove they prove to be! Unfortunately, her family destroyed some of them for fear of embarrassing people; what a shame! All those people have been moldering in their graves for more than 200 years, yet the letters that remain show the same wit and incisive knowledge of human nature that makes her books timeless classics. The hardcover edition is an excellent one, with good paper, secure binding, and an easy-to-read font. There are literally hundreds of pages of notes and indices, so whether you're a fan of Austen, a scholar, or just fond of this literary format, you can get as much (or as little) information as you want. The letters are more than just intelligent, charming and often humorous...there are some that draw tears. I was particularly moved by Jane's sister's letters to family and friends, written just after Jane's death. I highly recommend this book - but only in this edition!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got the hardcover version, edited by Deirdre Le Fay, out of the library and it's a wonderful and very complete version. (Over 600 pages long with useful commentary) I wanted my own copy to highlight so I ordered the paperback version. It's a cheap little pamphlet of 111 pages. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THE PAPERBACK VERSION!

I should have paid more attention to the negative reviews. The paperback version is worthless! spring for the hardcover.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The content is great, and gives an insight into Jane Austen's stream of consciousness to her sister, and interesting tidbits about late 18th and early 19th century everyday life. What a gossip she was! Life before TV, Radio and even railway travel certainly was, to our point of view, very confined. But her world was her area of expertise. Her brothers went out and saw the world beyond England. She loved the Navy and I find it sad that she never seems to have boarded a ship, even in dock - but it doesn't seem to have occurred to her that she should or could have. She saw the world through her sailor brothers' eyes, and drew that world into her novels, Mansfield Park and Persuasion in particular, again through the eyes of her male characters.
If Ms. LeFaye had not added extensive notes at the back, this would be hard to follow. The comings and goings of the Janes and Marys, Georges and Edwards, would quite lose me. There are the Coopers, Biggs, and Lefroys - to the JA newbie, this would be very confusing indeed, but Le Faye has pages of notes of Who's Who at the back, Just as good, the Houses and Locations where these people live, are noted also. You need two bookmarks, This is a great companion book for Claire Tomalin's biography of JA, as you can go from one to the other, making a kind of fuller picure out of a jumble of people, places and homes. Read Tomalin first.
The book itself, being used and offered at half-price, was buyer-beware, and the front pages were loose in the binding and soon fell out. However it is a hardback. I am very pleased with my purchase.
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