Jane Austen is one of the great masters of the English language, and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is her great masterpiece, a sharp and witty comedy of manners played out in early 19th Century English society, a world in which men held virtually all the power and women were required to negotiate mine-fields of social status, respectability, wealth, love, and sex in order to marry both to their own liking and to the advantage of their family. And such is particularly the case of the Bennetts, a family of daughters whose father's estate is entailed to a distant relative, for upon Mr. Bennett's death they will lose home, land, income, everything. But are the Bennett daughters up to playing a winning hand in this high-stakes matrimonial game without forfeiting their own personal integrity?
This battle of the sexes is largely seen through the eyes of second daughter Elizabeth, who possesses a razor-sharp wit and rich sense of humor--and who finds herself hindered by her own addlepated mother, her sister Jane's hopeless love for the wealthy Mr. Bingley, and her sister Lydia's penchant for scandal... not to mention the high-born, formidable, and outrageously proud Mr. Darcy, who seems determined to trump her every card. But the game of love proves more surprising than either Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy can imagine, and sometimes a seemingly weak hand proves a winning one when all cards are on the table.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is simply one of the funniest novels ever written, peopled with memorable characters brought vividly to life as they both succeed and fail at the game of life according to the manners of their era. It is a novel to which I return again and again, enjoying Austen's brillant talent. I have little respect for people who describe it as dull, slow, out of date, for as long as men and women live and fall in love it will never be out of style, always be meaningful, and always be funny. A masterpiece of wit and style; a timeless novel for the ages.
Just when I thought I had more editions of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE than I should ever own up to, I will freely admit to just one more. After all, what Janeite could resist this tempting package? An unabridged first edition text; Annotations by an Austen scholar; Color illustrations; Over-sized coffee table format; Extensive introduction; And, supplemental material - all pulled together in a beautifully designed interior and stunning cover. *swoon* Where are my aromatic vinegars?
This new annotated edition appeals to modern readers on many levels beyond being a pretty package of a beloved classic. Austen is renowned for her witty dialogue and finely drawn characters, but not for her elaborate physical descriptions or historical context. When PRIDE AND PREJUDICE was originally published in 1813, this brevity was accessible to her contemporary readers who assumed the inferences, but after close to two hundred years words have changed their meaning, insinuations and subtle asides have become fuzzy, and cultural differences from Regency to twenty-first century are worlds apart. Anyone can read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and follow the narrative, but it is so much more enjoyable if you can read it on an expanded level understanding it in social, cultural and historical context. Editor Patricia Meyer Spacks has not only added extensive notes on plot, characters, events, history, culture and critical analysis from a vast array of Austen and literary scholars, but added her own personal insights and observations from years of reading Austen and her experience as a college professor. From shoe roses to Fordyces Sermons to military floggings to the 19th-century meaning of condescension, readers will be informed and enlightened on every aspect related to the novel, the author and her times. In a nut shell, she has vetted great resources, gathered nuggets of knowledge and placed them at our feet.
As with all of Austen's characters, this new annotated edition of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE has its own charms, "frailties, foibles and follies." Weighing in at over three pounds, and encompassing 464 pages of unabridged text and fine print margin notes, this book easily reigns as the most all-inclusive and well-researched edition of Jane Austen's masterpiece that I have ever encountered. Considering that the elaborate annotation classifies it as a reference work in addition to a full text, it is quite puzzling that it lacks an index. In addition, the illustrations are expertly selected but sadly lost some of their refinement in the printing process, coming across dark and murky in places. However, I was pleased to see a list of further reading and illustration credits listed in the back of the book to encourage readers to "add something more substantial, in the improvement of [their] minds by extensive reading."
Beautiful, sumptuous and satisfying, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: AN ANNOTATED EDITION is a monumental achievement that should be on the top of your holiday wish list and considered one of few editions available to be esteemed truly accomplished.
Laurel Ann, Austenprose
on July 8, 2010
One of the versions listed is published by "General Books LLC." Another reader complained about the tiny and almost unreadable font - you probably bought the version published by General Books LLC - and here's the reason.
General Books LLC is an imprint of VDM Publishing, (google them and take a look at the Wikipedia article on them) and they specialise in publishing books that are free of copyright without doing any editing or quality control. A few quotes from the publishers website will explain more:
"We created your book using OCR software that includes an automated spell check. Our OCR software is 99 percent accurate if the book is in good condition. However, with up to 3,500 characters per page, even one percent can be an annoying number of typos....
After we re-typeset and designed your book, the page numbers change so the old index and table of contents no longer work. Therefore, we usually remove them. Since many of our books only sell a couple of copies, manually creating a new index and table of contents could add more than a hundred dollars to the cover price....
Our OCR software can't distinguish between an illustration and a smudge or library stamp so it ignores everything except type. We would really like to manually scan and add the illustrations. But many of our books only sell a couple of copies....
We created your book using a robot who turned and photographed each page. Our robot is 99 percent accurate. But sometimes two pages stick together. And sometimes a page may even be missing from our copy of the book. We would really like to manually scan each page and buy multiple copies of each original. But many of our books only sell a couple of copies..... "
So what you're getting if you buy the version published by General Books LLC is a scanned in, unedited, low quality (and with an almost unreadable font from the sounds of it) unindexed / No table of contents book at a higher price than many of the good quality imprints available. Basically, VDM Publishing is flooding Amazon with these low quality prints (450,000 of them are listed now) and, unfortunately, many of them have the reviews associated with better quality imprints associated with them. The product description is insufficient for the buyer that's not aware of this publisher.
Totally unethical marketing.
A reader,Scott Hannigan has commented: "What you have given us is feedback - not a review. There is an appropriate forum for your complaints. You should delete it as it brings down the average score of a classic." In response, I have to say that Amazon does not provide a forum for complaints and has been remarkably resistant to taking on board criticism from many customers over the books published by General Books LLC. In addition, Amazon is the Printer of these POD books and makes a substantial cut from them. Sadly, given that the General Books LLC version is lumped in with other imprints from genuine publishers, there is no real way of making potential buyers aware of the problems with this particular version of the book without inflicting it on all the other versions available. C'est la vie.
Scott - apologies for replying like this but Amazon removed my ability to comment some time ago - I broke ze commenting guidelines. Re "Amazon does provide a feedback section. You will find it under 'My Account', 'Personalization', 'Leave Seller Feedback'" - yes, they do indeed but the response to myself and many others has been uniformly that it's not their problem. Look up the discussion forum on Alphascript Books for a very enlightening backgrounder on this one. That said, if you bought a book from General Books LLC and saw what it was like, you'd be highly annoyed - as most buyers have been - and even if you returned it to Amazon for a refund, you'd be out of pocket for the postage.
Like all of her novels, Jane Austen's EMMA is essentially a comedy of manners, a work in which the characters move inside a highly restrictive code of conduct and must walk a fine line between the socially acceptable and unacceptable if they are to survive, much less reach their goals. But at the same time the central character, Emma Woodhouse, is a marked departure. Not only is she a young woman of considerable wealth and social standing, she is, as critics are fond of pointing out, "flawed."
The nature of Emma's flaw is essentially Austen's observation of the great failing of the upper-class: an assumption that what they think and do is inevitably correct. And although Emma is quick-witted, generous, and kind, she suffers the effect of this blind arrogance when she comes to believe that she is gifted as a matchmaker and can order the romantic lives of her circle to suit her own liking. The result is a series of seriocomic entanglements and disasters that touches virtually every one with whom Emma comes into contact.
The story requires considerable exposition, and consequently the action is slow to gather; add to this the fact that Emma herself is so overbearing and self-assured that you frequently want to give her a slap. The result is a novel that many, including Austen fans, will find an uphill read. Even so, Austen is writing very close to the peak of her powers here, and her amazing talent for observation, subtle irony, and flashing wit endow EMMA with tremendous charm and interest. In many respects a remarkable novel, but one that I recommend more to determined Austen fans than to casual readers.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
on September 22, 2010
Emma Woodhouse is priviledged. Very priviledged. She comes from the richest, most important family in her small town. Everyone looks up to her, including her indulgent governess and even more indulgent papa. The theme of her life, from the time she was small, has always been "Emma knows best". Emma takes this to heart when she takes an interest in young Harriet Smith, the beautiful, empty-headed daughter of, well, someone. The book follows Emma's misadventures as she tries to marry Harriet off to the local parson and meddles in the lives of her friends and neighbors, eventually learning that perhaps she doesn't always know best.
This is, I think, one of Jane Austen's less popular works, perhaps because there isn't a great deal of romance in it. It is, as I titled the review, more of a character study, as well as a study of society at that time. On first reading, I didn't care for the book or for Emma's self-centered goodness. After reading it again, I grew to enjoy the book as much if not more than her more popular works, like Pride and Prejudice. The wit is sharp as usual (and maybe slightly more ascerbic), and more thought seems to have been put into the secondary characters. Definitely worth a read.
Note to all Kindle users - there are some books that are meant to be read on the Kindle and some that must have just been scanned into the computer. This version is in the latter group. It's AWFUL. Sometimes you only get half a screen, other times the text is different sizes. It has no table of contents for navigation. I love the book, I hate the version.
on September 25, 2010
Jane Austen scholar Patricia Meyer Spacks has written many books, but none so lush and lovely as Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition. Not only will this beautiful annotated edition of Jane Austen's beloved novel look fabulous on your coffee table, but after reading it you will feel that you've come to understand Pride and Prejudice as you never have before.
Dr. Spacks's definitions, descriptions, and clarifications of arcane words, Regency customs, and obscure passages add dimension to a novel that I have read over 22 times and thought I knew inside and out. But I was wrong. Take her annotation of this rather unassuming sentence in Chapter 4, for example: "With no greater events than these in the Longbourn family, and otherwise diversified by little beyond the walks to Meryton, sometimes dirty and sometimes cold, did January and February pass away."
Dr. Spacks explains that in this instance, dirty meant muddy. Thinking of how uneventful life in a semi-rural setting must be, she adds, "Aside from the arrival of the militia and of Wickham, virtually everything of significance that has happened in the novel so far has been psychological..." She then goes on to describe the states of mind in Jane, Elizabeth, Darcy and Mr. Collins as they interact with each other.
In Chapter 2, Volume III, she introduces Michael Kramp's idea that Mr. Darcy's kindness to Mrs. Gardiner during Elizabeth's and the Gardiners visit to Pemberly is evidence of the changing nature of England's social arrangements and that "the gap between new and old money is shrinking." (p. 307)
Dr. Spacks's new annotated edition provides an erudite commentary on Pride and Prejudice, refers to many scholarly sources, and includes a large assortment of images. As she explained in a recent interview with me: "we looked for images that were beautiful in themselves and that illuminated some aspect of Austen's period."
Her 24-page introduction explores the continuing appeal of Pride and Prejudice: that it is considered safe for teaching in school and appeals to both feminists and sentimental individuals who are attracted to a romantic English past. "It has also emerged clearly as a repository for and stimulus of fantasy, and thus possibly less safe than it seems. In the film versions...Darcy, romanticized, tends to turn into a Heathcliff figure, passionate, beautiful, and overwhelmingly physical." Someone recently asked how this annotation of Pride and Prejudice differed from David M. Shapard's 2004 annotation. The Spacks volume comes in a lavishly color-illustrated, hardback edition, while Shapard's book was published as a trade paperback. Scattered thinly throughout its pages are a few black and white illustrations. Aside from the difference in physical appearance, Spacks's annotations are more scholarly
Flipping through the first page of the novel, you can immediately spot the difference. Dr. Spacks, the Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English, Emerita at the University of Virginia, discusses the famous first sentence as material for a critical debate on the ambiguity of "want", whereas Dr. Shapard, an 18th century expert, emphasizes the introduction of two central themes of the novel, marriage and financial considerations. The two annotations are so different, that I believe there is room on the shelves for both of them.
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks is a perfect gift for oneself and for a beloved friend or family member. If the purchase price seems a bit steep in this economy, place it on your Holiday gift wish list. You will not be disappointed when you unwrap your package. - Vic from Jane Austen's World blog
on March 23, 2000
It doesn't get better than Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Whether you're the hopeless romantic or you just love the classics, you're going to love this book. Though I am only sixteen, I consider myself to be moderately well-read. I love reading, and, when I am between books, my life feels desolate and empty. One day, while in the most barren pit of ennui, I picked up Pride and Prejudice at my mother's recommendation. I do not ordinarily like my mother's taste in reading; her favorite books tend to be very dull, but so deep was my boredom that I succumbed to her suggestion. I wasn't displeased with what I found. I fell in love with the book at the first sentence. I brought my beloved book to the dinner table, to my classes and late into the night. I love everything about it. I love the characters; especially Elizabeth Bennet! I love the Victorian vernavular which works so well for this particular novel. I love the scintillating plot and the suspense created by knowing that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy should be together but their pride and prejudice (hence the title) are temporarily keeping them apart. The language that the novel is written in might be a little more difficult to read than contemporary literature, but once one gets accustomed to it, it makes the novel even more pleasurable. I cannot imagine Elizabeth or Darcy or Bingley or any of the other characters speaking any less eloquently; it would ruin the whole experience! The flowery language completes the whole effect of reading a Jane Austen novel. If a disgruntled female reader put down Pride and Prejudice, pick it back up! I strongly suggest it because it may prove to be tedious at first but if read again, it would probably read more easily. I can offer no suggestions to the male reader, however, because generally this book, in ever essence, is a female novel. I am not saying that men would definetly not enjoy it; I'm simply saying that I have yet to meet any male who has not addressed this book in a very vehement manner. I simply love this book in its entirety, and I know it won't be too long before I pick it up again. Jane Austen surely knew what she was doing when she wrote this one! Her Pride and Prejudice will always have an honored spot on my bookshelf.
on August 4, 2010
It goes without saying Pride and Prejudice is a classic of all time. My concern here and the reason for the low rating is the poor quality of this Kindle version. There are typos and in several places in the text very, very simple errors are made: in a few places, the same word repeats itself along the lines of "the the chair," a couple malapropisms I am positive were not in the original text, and other typesetter's error that, if this Kindle edition had been subject to even a cursory review by a proofreader, would have been caught. I too would like to mention the FACT that emphasized WORDS are all CAPITALIZED in this version as AMAZINGLY annoying. I have never seen an actual book loaded with so many simple errors as this ebook is.
on March 7, 2000
If I could do it over again, I would read Jane Austen's Emma before I read her Pride and Prejudice. Unfortuanately that was not the case. I loved it nonetheless. Emma combines witty humor and a fun cast of characters that makes for very enjoyable reading. It does not read as quickly or as easily as Pride and Prejudice, but it is still great fun!
If you have seen the movie Clueless starring Alicia Silverstone, then you know the basic plot. The 1995 movie was adapted from Jane Austen's novel, which was published in the 1800s. The Miramax version of Emma is done very well and should be viewed after reading the novel, not before. It would make the reading even slower.
Emma Woodhouse is a young woman who is the socialite of her small English town of Highbury. She is beautiful and wealthy and popular; everything that girls nowadays want to be or imagine themselves to be, so she is not terribly hard to relate to. She is not terribly smart but humorously clever and witty.
This novel displays this young woman's journey to self-discovery and love; along the way she humorously meddles in everyone's lives. Her romantic blunders are extremely fun to read about. I recommend this novel to any avid reader, but I should caution you against reading Pride and Prejudice beforehand, but if it is too late, do not hesitate to read it. And even though it may drag a bit, bear with it; the ending is reward itself!
Needless to say Emma will always have a place in my heart and on my bookshelf.