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Persuasion: An Annotated Edition Hardcover – December 7, 2011
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Robert Morrison's new annotated edition of Persuasion is terrific: thorough, scrupulous, and thoughtful. It is a worthy addition to the wonderful Harvard series of annotated volumes, likely to be long read and much enjoyed by Austen enthusiasts. (Patricia Meyer Spacks)
Readers who know Pride and Prejudice and Emma very well, can on encountering or re-encountering Austen's final novel find it disconcerting and disorienting. Fortunately, they are now well served by the thorough and thoughtful annotation in Persuasion: An Annotated Edition. (Deidre Lynch, University of Toronto)
Jane Austen's final novel continues to fascinate readers. This love story contains Austen's most pointed social commentary, recognizing the rising status of the professional class and respecting the aristocrats with their inherited lands and titles. Morrison provides annotations alongside the novel's text. He enables readers to understand the impact of these social changes on family interactions and obligations, especially marriage...Highly recommended to first-time Austen readers and to fans seeking further insight into Austen's life and literary sources, as well as British life in her time. (Nancy R. Ives Library Journal 2011-09-01)
A handsome volume graced with colorful illustrations. Morrison's commentary not only includes new insights into Jane Austen's story about the romance of Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth, but also delves deep into details of life at the time. For readers who always wondered--and even for those who never thought to--Morrison decodes Wentworth's nautical style of speaking and explains why a 19th-century inn wouldn't have fresh food delivered. ("In November they seem to have stopped ordering for guests altogether, as the social season had passed and they had no expectation of company," Morrison writes.) For lovers of Austen, it's a deep dive into both her fiction and her world. (Molly Driscoll Christian Science Monitor 2011-12-02)
Jane Austen's last work, published posthumously in 1817, is her deepest and most introspective. Austen's view of the drawing apart and coming together of Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth is both wintry and warm. This lovely version features period illustrations, a fine introduction by the editor and enough annotation to amplify our understanding of this classic. (Globe and Mail 2011-12-02)
This edition is sumptuous eye candy for the Janeite. It is a real pleasure to have so much information collected and assembled for our edification and enjoyment. Morrison offers a lengthy and lucid introduction. (Laurel Ann AustenProse.com 2011-11-18)
Does Persuasion need annotation? You'd think the legions of loyal Jane Austen fans could annotate all of her books in their sleep. But this is a lovely book, in which Morrison, of Queen's University, Ontario, gives us context, geography and history; defines some terms (sedan chair, dabchick, blain), and admits what he doesn't know. ("Why does Mrs. Clay send Mr. Elliot to Union Street...and what does this tell us about their relationship? Austen does not explain it.") This book is lavishly illustrated and includes, in an appendix, Austen's original ending. (When you read it, you'll be glad she rewrote it.) (Laurie Hertzel Star Tribune 2011-11-26)
A beautiful new annotated edition of Persuasion from Harvard's Belknap Press. (Jenny Hendrix Paris Review blog 2011-12-20)
What better way to revisit the world of Jane Austen's last completed novel (published posthumously in 1818) than through one of the magnificent annotated editions produced regularly by Harvard University Press? ...These Harvard editions are setting the standard for a new century of carefully supporting intelligent readers. (Steve Donoghue Open Letters Monthly 2011-12-05)
I'll say it right up front, my favorite book related to Jane Austen in 2011 was Persuasion: An Annotated Edition, edited by Robert Morrison. Designed along the same lines as last year's superb Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks. Robert Morrison not only explains some of the more esoteric details of Persuasion, but also includes beautiful images that explain the era more clearly for the reader. This book is a coffee table edition of an annotation, although I would not recommend leaving it out unattended. A zealous Janeite guest might just squirrel it away unnoticed! (Amanda Vickery Jane Austen Today 2011-12-29)
About the Author
Robert Morrison is Queen’s National Scholar at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.
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Persuasion tells the story of Anne Elliot the daughter of Sir Walter Elliot. Her family relocates to Bath after Sir Walter's lifestyle forces him to economize (he is a foolish and vain main). While visiting her sister Mary Musgrave she is reacquainted with Frederick Wentworth a captain in the British Navy. He was jilted by her eight years before the novel begins. Persuasion is about the obstacles encountered between Anne and Fredrick as their love is revived and they end up happily married.
The Austen novels which are annotated with genius by David Shepard are a pure joy to own, study and delight the eye with period prints and illustrations of Georgian furniture, transportation, estates, art and dress. This book has thousands of notes which enhance the reading pleasure and make the delights of an Austen book even more satisfying! On the left side is the text of the novel while on the right page are the notes! Very convenient for reading since you do not have to turn to the back of the book for the footnotes!
As a proud member of the Jane Austen Society of North America this Annotated series is the one I would recommend for teaching Austen in college or for the person just discovering the wonders of Jane Austen.
It's been a while since I've read Persuasion and some passages fairly jumped out at me, as in
Lady Elliot [Anne's mother] had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable; whose judgement and conduct, if they might be pardoned the youthful infatuation with made her Lady Eilliot, had never required indulgence afterward...
Mr. Bennet, anyone? He, too, married a pretty face and lived to regret it. Lady Elliot, it seems, at least in Lady Russell's hindsight, coped better with the price of her bad choice. On this passage Shapard annotates
Her duties, as the wife of a baronet, would have centered around managing the household, which included purchasing what was needed, keeping the household budget, planning meals, and most of all, supervising the servants and their various labors.
At least she wouldn't have been bored. This time I am reminded of Charlotte Lucas, who marries Mr. Collins and arranges her household so that she and her husband never have to spend any time in each other's company. I read Jane Austen: A Life and I thought then that Jane's mother might have informed the character of Mrs. Bennet. I wonder who else in Jane's life is being pilloried here.
In that seminal conversation with Mrs. Smith, Anne's invalid schoolroom friend, where Anne's opinion of Mr. Elliot is confirmed, Anne says, "A sick chamber may often furnish the worth of volumes." Mrs. Smith replies
"Yes," said Mrs. Smith, more doubtingly, "sometimes it may, though I fear its lessons are not often in the elevated style you describe. Here and there, human nature may be great in times of trial, but generally speaking it is its weakness and not its strength that appears ina sick chamber; it is selfishness and impatience rather than generosity and fortitude, that one hears of it.
This whole issue had a particular poignancy for Jane Austen, for it while finishing this novel that she came down with the illness--possibly Addison's disease, a failure of the adrenal glands--that killed her. Based on the testimony of family members and some letters from that time she seems to have demonstrated uncomplaining fortitude, even as her pain worsened and the possibility of recovery became more remote.
In several places Shapard speculates how she might have edited Persuasion had her body granted her the time to do so.
Shapard extensively annotates Anne's conversation with Harville and Wentworth's letter to Anne
[Wentworth] is obviously writing this while listening to her last statement during the exchange with Captain Harville. He naturally focuses on her avowed belief that men can also be constant, rather than her final claim of greater female constancy in certain unenviable circumstances.
I wonder. As seen in Tomalin's biography, Jane's brothers and cousins wear out their wives with 13, 14, 15 children, and after the wives understandably die, of among other things I imagine exhaustion, their husbands immediately remarry and have another 13, 14 or 15 children with the new wife. Doesn't exactly ring of constancy, does it.
Jane did turn down Harris Bigg-Wither, when that marriage would have meant a life of ease and comfort for herself (if she didn't die in childbirth), and a comfortable old age for her parents and her sister Cassandra. Which could have had something to do with her previous broken relationship with Tom LeFroy. As could Wentworth's (in the end, anyway) constant love for Anne.
I have long thought that Persuasion was the most realistic of all Jane's books. Anne maddens a lot of readers with her inability to act, but maybe Anne is an exemplar of her kind and class and time. If so, I'm glad I live now.
I have just finished the first volume and am eager to get started on the second volume (both are included in this edition). Persuasion is the only two-volume work that Austen wrote.