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Jane Austen's Letters Hardcover – December 1, 2011
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"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.
- Publisher : Oxford University Press; 4th edition (December 1, 2011)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 704 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0199576076
- ISBN-13 : 978-0199576074
- Item Weight : 2.18 pounds
- Dimensions : 8.6 x 2.2 x 5.7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #262,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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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.
I should have paid more attention to the negative reviews. The paperback version is worthless! spring for the hardcover.
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.
Top reviews from other countries
The minutiae of her daily existence are meticulously recorded, and it is Austen's talent for expressing the seemingly mundane that brings the author and her letters so remarkably to life. Of the political history of all periods we have more than our fair share, subject as it is to the interpretation and opinion of various historians - popular or otherwise - and our understanding of an age changes every day, but it is only through contact with letters and journals such as these that we can stand face to face with the ordinary men and women that make up an era.
To quote from the product description above:
"This fourth edition incorporates the findings of new scholarship to enrich our understanding of Austen and give us the fullest and most revealing view yet of her life and family. There is a new preface, the biographical and topographical indexes have been amended and updated, a new subject index has been created, and the contents of the notes added to the general index."
Readers perhaps unfamiliar with Austen should not be put off by the parochial and intimate detail that fills her letters - it is precisely that detail and her powers of observation that make her novels as relevant today as they were when first published two centuries ago. To read her letters is to enter the same room as Miss Austen and her correspondents, to hear their laughter and tears, and to share in the daily life of this astonishing and unfortunately short-lived genius.
This fourth edition is elegantly produced in one volume - maybe a little tightly bound to be quite comfortable, and in a size of print that is not always easy on the eye - but minor quibbles aside, Austen devotees (hand in hand with those just beginning their acquaintance with her) can and should relish every lively word. It will be a long time before this edition is superseded.