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.