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Persuasion (Norton Critical Editions) [Paperback]

Jane Austen , Patricia Meyer Spacks
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (759 customer reviews)


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Book Description

December 17, 1994 0393960188 978-0393960181

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.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Anne Elliot, heroine of Austen's last novel, did something we can all relate to: Long ago, she let the love of her life get away. In this case, she had allowed herself to be persuaded by a trusted family friend that the young man she loved wasn't an adequate match, social stationwise, and that Anne could do better. The novel opens some seven years after Anne sent her beau packing, and she's still alone. But then the guy she never stopped loving comes back from the sea. As always, Austen's storytelling is so confident, you can't help but allow yourself to be taken on the enjoyable journey. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Stevenson has read all of Austen's novels for audiobook, in abridged or unabridged versions, and her experience shows in this delightful production. Though dominated by the intelligent, sweet voice of Anne Elliot—the least favored but most worthy of three daughters in a family with an old name but declining fortunes—Stevenson provides other characters with memorable voices as well. She reads Anne's haughty father's lines with a mixture of stuffiness and bluster, and Anne's sisters are portrayed with a hilariously flighty, breathy register that makes Austen's contempt for them palpable. Anne's voice is mostly measured and reasonable—an expression of her strong mind and spirit—but Stevenson imbues her speech with wonderful shades of passion as Anne is reacquainted with Capt. Wentworth, whom she has continued to love despite being forced, years before, to reject him over status issues. Listening to Stevenson, as Anne, describe a sudden encounter with Wentworth, one hardly needs Austen's description of how Anne grows faint—Stevenson's perfectly judged and deeply felt reading has already shown that she must have. Even those who have read Austen's novels will find themselves loving this book all over again with Stevenson's evocative rendition ringing richly in their ears. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (December 17, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393960188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393960181
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (759 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #522,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
279 of 290 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jane Austen's Masterpiece & Final Novel! July 11, 2005
Format:Paperback
"Persuasion" is a great literary work, and, to my mind, Jane Austen's finest book. This was her final completed novel before her death, and was published posthumously. As is often the case with Ms. Austen's fiction, "Persuasion" deals with the social issues of the times and paints a fascinating portrait of Regency England, especially when dealing with the class system. Rigid social barriers existed - and everyone wanted to marry "up" to a higher station - and, of course, into wealth. This is also a very poignant and passionate story of love, disappointment, loss and redemption. The point Austen makes here, is that one should not ever be persuaded to abandon core values and beliefs, especially for ignoble goals. There are consequences, always.

Gillian Beer writes a fascinating Introduction in this Penguin Classic Edition, in which she discusses Miss Austen's portrayal of the double-edged nature of persuasion. This complete and unabridged edition also contains a biography of the author, an Afterword, a new chronology and full textual notes.

Sir Walter Elliot, Lord of Kellynch Hall, is an extravagant, self-aggrandizing snob, and a bit of a dandy to boot. He has been a widower for many years and spends money beyond his means to increase his social stature. His eldest daughter, who he dotes on, is as conceited and spoiled as he is. The youngest daughter, Anne, is an intelligent, sensitive, capable and unassuming woman in her late twenties when the story opens. She had been quite pretty at one time, but life's disappointments have taken their toll and her looks are fading. She and her sister are both spinsters. Anne had once been very much in love with a young, and as yet untried, navel officer.
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106 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written April 30, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is one of my favorites of all time. Many people dislike it or don't like it as much when compared to Pride and Prejudice or Emma, but there are many reasons why Persuasion should not be compared to Austen's other novels. This novel was the last one that Austen wrote before she died. It is a more mature novel, dealing with many issues not found in Austen's previous novels. One reason why people find faults with the book is that Anne Elliot, the heroine, is not as spunky or witty as an Elizabeth Bennett or an Emma Woodhouse. There is not so much wit flowing in the dialogue between characters, or even dialogue in general. But these differences between the novels make this one so unique.
It is a novel of second chances. Anne Elliot, no longer in the bloom of youth, is a grown woman of 27 or 28 years. Eight years ago she had been happily in love with a handsome man named Frederick Wentworth. But, unfortunately, due to his financial status, and Anne under the influence of her family and close friend, was forced to reject his marriage proposal and they parted ways. But now, he is within her closest circle once again. Circumstances led to Anne staying with her married sister, Mrs. Muskgrove, while her own house was being let to Wentworth's sister and husband. Wentworth visits his sister and on calling on the Muskgroves finds Anne among them. Anne finds Wentworth, not only looking as good as he ever did, but is now Captain Wentworth, who has made his fortune. Wentworth, still angry with Anne over being rejected, causes him to treat Anne very cooly. But over many weeks of contact here and there, you catch on that Captain Wentworth isn't all that oblivious to Anne anymore, because of all the little 'glimpses' he throws at Anne. The tension between the two is amazing.
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78 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Book of All Time.... May 28, 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Over the years, I have read "Persuasion" by Jane Austen at LEAST 10 times. Simply put, it is my favorite book. While not everyone holds this novel with the same high esteem that I do, I urge those who have NOT read "Persuasion" to buy it.
This book has meant different things to me at different times in my life. I have often reflected why I find the story so fascinating and believe it is because it so accurately portrays the human spirit and exposes our flaws and strengths with such transparency.
Jane Austen reveals those who are so superficial that they see no goodness or worth other than beauty and wealth (Anne's father and sister); those who are so dependent that they do not listen to their own heart - but instead leave their most important decisions for others to make (Anne herself); and those whose pride has been wounded.
And perhaps what is so captivating, Austen lets the reader vicariously "undo" an error in judgment. This is an excellent and timeless novel.
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Norton does it again March 4, 2005
Format:Paperback
This review is for the Norton Critical Edition of Persuasion, and has two parts: a review of Persuasion itself, and a review of Norton Content.

No educated person disputes Austen's contribution to the literary world. While her particular craft may not be palatable to all types (whose is?), I maintain that of all Austen's works, Persuasion is the one to hold the most appeal to those unfamiliar with her literature. It could be a `gateway drug', introducing the reader to Austen, or it could be a delightful `one-book stand'; whichever way works for the reader.

Concealed within Regency trappings is a universal story: there is a `mythic' quality to it in the sense that C.S. Lewis defines myth. The story reaches through space and time to grab the heart and attention of the reader, compelling her both on and deeper. When the novel opens, Anne Elliot faces the prospect of meeting once again a man with whom she was compelled to break off an engagement nearly eight years prior. While relatively little outward action takes place, Austen builds tension through Anne's inner conflict. Peripheral issues, such as the nature of the change in social systems in this turbulent time in Britain and the place of women in society, serve as complementary fare that highlights the mounting dilemma that Anne faces. In Austen style, the resolution and denouement are highly satisfying and truly ingenious, and the reader is left with meaty material to savor for days to come.

The Norton contribution to Persuasion is indispensable. Though I was previously familiar with Persuasion, a favorite professor of mine introduced me to the commentary and contributions within this edition. The preface lays out a road map of sorts for the rest of the book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this version(Oxford)!
¡Me encantó! I’m fan of Jane Austen. I learned to love English and romantic novels because of “Pride and Prejudice. Read more
Published 10 hours ago by Yuri
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is a brilliant novel. It captures so well the restrictions on women in those times.
Published 1 day ago by MRS HELEN IRVINE
4.0 out of 5 stars A view of emotions and time past
The way that the thoughts and feelings were expressed were insightful and thought provoking. A glimpse of a way of life long past.
Published 1 day ago by sherry strader
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
This book is wonderful. I love Jane Austen.
Published 3 days ago by H Hite
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a classic for a good reason. The biting wit is just delicious
This is a classic for a good reason. The biting wit is just delicious. This book is on everyone's list of books titled "Must Read" at sometime in your life. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Big El
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites
Although this story is rather slow-paced, it is one of my favorite of the Jane Austen novels. Something in the story resonates with me, perhaps, the "watching the rest of the... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Y. Perez
4.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book by the author
I have read most of Jane Austen's works but Persuasion is my favorite book by the author. I find the story fascinating in part because it accurately portrays real human flaws and... Read more
Published 11 days ago by RD Bortfeld
5.0 out of 5 stars elegant and artful
All is not as it seems when Anne meets the man she refused eight years earlier, but will Wentworth forgive her?
Published 16 days ago by Debra
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I loved this book almost as much as Pride and Prejudice, lovely read and really liked Anne's character too, strong willed lady!
Published 16 days ago by Donna Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Gread book
So sad Jane Austen was unable to polish this. It would be a perfect romance. I would recommend this to anyone.
Published 20 days ago by Rostislav Kondratenko
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